Let’s begin with some facts. You think facts are boring? You should have seen these. For two weeks the swallows have been flying-south. Red-tailed Hawks are visible-many places. Green Darner Dragonflies are photographed-and put on social media. American Pelicans have formed flocks. These flocks are flying-south. Northern Flicker Woodpeckers with the tell-tail white tail patch-are present-in migratory flocks. If you watch carefully there are still Monarchs flying- south. Now the last-does not move. Ash tree leaves first yellow-then fall to earth.
Now 6 questions for you-but relax- two are repeated
Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
Has it not been told you from the beginning?
Have you not understood since the earth was founded? (Isaiah 40:21)
Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. (Isaiah 40:28)
Have you been watching? God is speaking. He is revealing His power and holy God character. Before our eyes God is creating fall.
The time of covenant keeping has come.
I have a new summer favorite for you.
Anax Junius, the Green Darner Dragonfly. Think of it as the lion of the insect world. If it is an insect that flies, the Green Darner will eat it. Mosquitoes, midges, flies, butterflies, moths, mayflies, stoneflies even smaller dragonflies all fuel this winged predator. Its life cycle differs from most insects. There are three stages in a Green Darner’s life: egg, nymph and adult. A dragonfly nymph has a voracious appetite. It will eat anything in the water smaller than itself. For the Green Darner nymph this includes minnows and tadpoles.
Look closely at its compound eyes. There are about 30,000 lenses in them. It can see all the way around itself. Those large wings can propel it at speeds up to 30 miles per hour.
Did you know this dragonfly migrates? Biologist estimate there are 331 dragonfly species in North America. Only nine migrate seasonally. Green Darners will fly up to 60 miles a day in favorable conditions. Their compound eyes protect them from a predator which migrates with the darners. American Kestrels and small falcons time their migrations to match that of the darner. They feast on the winged buffet of green darner dragonflies.
Like the birds that eat them, Green Darners migrate to Texas, Florida, and on to Mexico and the Caribbean where those that survive mate to begin the next generation whose offspring will lay eggs in northern wetlands the next summer.
If they weren’t such amazing creatures, their beauty alone would make them on of my favorites.
Late afternoon in a tiny prairie.
Photos: prairie onion (1&2) followed by Gray Headed Cone flower, the next two of two spotted bumble bees on Anise Hyssop, the last two are Cup Plant.
Sitting among flowers and bumblebees is quiet peace.
It brings a sense of being part of something much greater.
Pick a bird. Which is your preferred feather carrier? (there are four shown)
Why only four? You will know soon enough.
Perhaps some facts will help in your decision.
The Cardinal would be a great choice. If you like brilliant red, the cardinal is your bird. Cardinals eat seeds, fruits and especially during nesting season, insects. They build a four-layer nest with twigs, followed by a leafy mat, that is covered with grape vine bark, and the final layer is grasses, fine roots, and pine needles. You may also choose the cardinal because of its song. Distinctively cardinal is the long string of clear down slurred two-part whistles.
Did you choose the Robin? Most of us think of the robin as the harbinger of spring. Their cheer filled song lifts our spirits. Because they are large and common, we see them often, especially on our lawns as they eat the earthworms they find there. They do eat worms and other insects but the robin is a mainly a fruit eater. Perhaps because they are common, you may choose robin.
Maybe you have chosen the chickadee. Any resident of the north country soon comes to admire this little black and white dynamo-in January when the thermometer reads below zero. The chickadee seems unaffected by the cold. Its cheery song brightens each day. It is an omnivore like the robin and cardinal, so this may not help you decide. You may like the fact that every winter night, the chickadee goes in to a torpor. That means it can lower its pulse rate and its body temperature to conserve energy and survive bitter cold.
My guess is you did not choose the American crow. Did you pass over the crow because of its all black plumage? Would it help if you knew the crow’s feathers shine in sunlight? Did you say no to the crow because it is large and its caws are loud and disturbing? The crow is an omnivore too. But then you may decide you don’t like the idea of it eating the eggs and young of other birds. Perhaps reminding you that the crow eats carrion does not help either. But, they are very social. They work together in raising their young, even older siblings, that includes offspring up to two years old.
We are not done with the crow. You did not choose it. Hold on one moment for one other fact. The American Crow is considered to be among the most intelligent birds on the planet. One source claimed the crow to be second only to humans in intelligence. Want to change your mind?
Why only four birds?
This is about favoritism.
What is favoritism? You were asked to choose, your thoughts were directed, so you chose one over the other three. It’s very acceptable to all of us that you preferred one over the other three. Favoritism regarding your bird preference is your personal choice. It is ok to favor.
With birds we may choose one over the other. With others, any human, favoritism has no place. In the Bible, James, brother of Jesus, wrote the book of James. He is specific and direct about favoritism. He wrote, “how can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people over others?” James 2:1
Do you sense how quickly, how easily we show preference for one person over another? Return to the birds a moment. Think of how you made your choice. They are all birds. Yet you chose one-you desired that one more, you favored one.
Just a few verses later James reminds us why favoritism can have no part in human relationships. He reminds us that God’s royal law is for us to “Love our neighbor as we love ourselves.” He adds, “But if you favor some people over others, you are committing a sin. You are guilty of breaking the law.” James 2:8-9
You say, “this is impossible!” I cannot overcome my weakness, I show favoritism constantly.” You are right. Favoritism is a universal human failure. But there is hope, always hope.
Once Jesus disciples questioned him about who could be saved? Do you know what Jesus answered them? “Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26.
We have true hope. We can trust Jesus, he is the One who makes the impossible-possible.
If you live in the northern hemisphere your tolerance of it is gone by March. Perhaps you were one of those who delighted in it last fall. In March you say, “enough.” As snow continues to fall our united hearts cry, “spring!”
Before snow and winter end, there is wisdom in remembering what snow is. It forms above our heads in air temperatures below 32 degrees. Call it a snowflake. It is actually a crystal. In each crystal, every water molecule is lined up in a precise hexagonal array. Now, a snowflake is any combination of exquisite snow crystals from fragments of crystals to hundreds, even thousands of crystals falling in clumps.
We have heard it said, “no two crystals are alike.” This is the fantastic part. The formation of an intensely beautiful snow crystal is dependent upon these factors: temperature, humidity and path of travel. For every crystal, all three factors are slightly different. As each crystal forms and grows those three factors are the same for each of the six arms-but different for every other crystal.
This is the part that dazzles us. Have you given thought to how many snow crystals fall upon the surface of the earth in a winter season? It’s one septillion. If you are interested in writing this number it is 1-with 24 zeros following it, don’t forget the commas…eight of them. What is dazzle doubled? Everyone of the one septillion crystals is different.
This is the time of year we are delighted with another aspect of snow crystals. They melt.
Before we leave snow behind for this season, consider another truth. We can use snow for the example. How many things have you made that are alike but different? Certainly not 1 septillion. The snow crystal is one example in an infinite number of things all made by One Creator. God.
God controls temperature, humidity and yes, the path of every snow crystal. One more time-1 septillion paths. While each fell God also controlled the heart rate and respiration of every living creature on earth, including us. Simultaneously God coordinated sunrise and set, earth tides and the orbits of all nine major planets in our solar system. Not to mention all of the other unnamed events happening at the same time-in the universe.
Does this seem too like an impossibility? Not when you remember omnipotent means all-powerful; unlimited all powerful. There is a verse in the Bible which is a metaphor describing the power of God. God is speaking to Moses about providing meat for over a million people. It reads, “The Lord answered Moses, “Is the Lord’s arm too short? Now you will see whether or not what I say will come true for you.” Numbers 11:23 It rained quail…read Numbers 23.
1 septillion snow crystals-in one winter. Quail falling from the sky by the thousands, enough to feed a million people. Perfect love for the whole world. Perfect never-changing love for you. A friend said today, “You can’t make this stuff up.” One snow crystal is evidence of the power of God. 1 septillion snow crystals are overwhelming. God’s “arm” is never too short.