Thursday, April 21, 2011

Nature: God's Beautiful Mess

Have you ever looked around, and all you see is a mess?  Maybe it's your life in general, your schedule, your relationships, or just your house or your car.   When I've swept up the dog hair for the fifth time in one day, or my hands begin to crack from all the exposure to rags and water, this is how I feel.  I have looked out the window at the beauty of the White Horse glacier, then seen Mr and Mrs Duck fluttering out of our creek, and I have been renewed.  What is it about just looking outdoors that can do this?  Right now, it's the end of the home school year, and I am indoors pushing for a few more things to be learned before the utter freedom of summer, but I long to be outdoors.

I decide it's time to take a walk.  As soon as I embark, I notice a piece of a fast food cup someone neglected long ago.  A slug has left a trail of slime across its garish yellow and black face.  There are freckles of soil seasoning it.   A nurse log has fallen across a well maintained forest trail:  bits of broken rotten wood surround it, as well as a hole, just the right size for a sneaker to stick into, so that one must awkwardly roll across these, gracelessly clambering in order to pursue the path.  Mounting the log, a branch, not yet covered with leaves, stings my cheek.  Fearless, I step bravely into a big skunk cabbage, the unmistakable scent lingering as I move on.  I stumble on a root, soaking my feet in the frigid water of the creek.  Sand and pebbles are in my shoes.  I shiver.  Not to be outdone, I make a giant step out of the creek...and into a bed of stinging nettles.  Ferns...where are you when I need you?  I climb up the hill towards my home, ready to nurse my wounds and to take a warm shower.  I find that a 5 foot long blackberry vine has made friends with my rear end and is following me home.  It's cold here in the shade.  I run into the bright spring sunshine and look back.  

Our little waterfall

 I notice the order of the forest.  I see the cedar, hemlocks and the cottonwoods towering at the top.  Then I notice the maples, alders, willows and the snag trees a little lower down.  Below that, I see elderberries, salmonberries, and best of all blackberries.  Beneath them, the ferns, nettles, trillium, and bleeding hearts nestle in the leaf mold.  There is a creek sauntering through it all, skunk cabbage on its banks.  Burbling waterfalls announce the beauty of the glacial moraine they expose in the water at their feet.  A nurse log has made a bridge across it, and a huckleberry bush has sunk roots deep into its nourishment.  A mother rabbit has dug a burrow at the foot of the log, and is raising her babies. If I look closely, I can see that at the mouth of the burrow, some grubs have been disturbed from their slumber, not quite prepared to face the hard work of life that looms before them.   A tiny slug, no bigger than a two year old's fingernail, has found a bit of paper, and is endeavoring mightily to digest it, to bring it down to earth.

The glacial moraine at the foot of our little waterfall

I smile and thing to myself, this is God's beautiful mess!  It is perfectly ordered, everything in balance.  Each bit of creation depends on those around it.  Boundaries are not clear, but purposes are.  I'm part of that beautiful mess, and so are my shedding dog, my orange peel strewing children, and the place we all call home.  Slowly, my eyes have filters that polarize my world so that I see it with God's eyes.  My ears tune into His frequencies...and I see the miracle of it all.


  1. What a GREAT reminder!!! God's world is perfectly ordered, "appears" a mess, because it is aways growing, and changing. It is also lived in, lived in by us, and by animals. Notice how, when everything is "spotless" as, maybe in a manicured park in a town, there aren't any animals. Well maybe an occasional squirrel.

  2. Nice article. I like the pictures too.

  3. that was my warm beach camp realization. i was walking through the woods, wondering how they got them so beautiful, and realized they didn't, and that was precisely why it was beautiful.


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