We saw this Great Blue Heron (and many other birds) biking around the Shark Valley Tram Trail in the Everglades. There is really nothing about a bird standing still that suggests an ability to fly. And yet these birds are capable of great flight.
People are often capable of unexpectedly great things as well.
This is a view from the Shark Valley lookout tower in the Everglades. Shark Valley is named for two of its estuaries, the Shark River and Little Shark River, home to several shark species.
This is not what I expected the Everglades to look like. I picture waist-deep water and thick trees. But the Everglades could be thought of as a massive river of grass (covering over 2 million acres), with a combination of sawgrass marshes, freshwater ponds, prairies and tree islands. Water flowing through the Everglades filters down into the Biscayne Aquifer, which supplies the drinking water for eight million South Floridians.
Water, all around you, slowly flowing. What a wonderful metaphor for the Holy Spirit – all around, moving in ways that we often don’t even perceive.
This photo of cormorants sitting in a tree was taken at the Florida Everglades. These birds eat small to medium sized fish which they catch by swimming under the surface of the water. They are amazing swimmers; under water they propel themselves with their feet with help from their wings; some have been found to dive as deep as 150 ft.
Both cormorants and anhingas (another underwater swimmer) can be seen drying their wings out in the sun because their feathers get waterlogged and make it difficult to fly. I remember the first time I saw a bird (probably an anhinga) sitting in a tree with its wings outstretched. It struck me as almost bizarre, because I did not know it why it was doing so.
The same thing happen with human behavior. We view the actions of others as bizarre or inappropriate. Often we don’t know a thing about them or their background.
This photo was taken in Panama, about 20 miles west of the Panama Canal. The Pacific Ocean can barely be seen in the distance. It was one of those days when the sky was hard to distinguish from the ocean. If there wasn’t a little piece of land sticking out, the sky and ocean would completely blend together.
We often talk about the sky as the heavens, as if that is where the spiritual world exists. But where does the physical world end and the spiritual world begin? Seeing God in all things is the recognition that the spiritual and the physical are one.
While at Acadia, we spent most of a day hiking Cadillac Mountain. We went up the North Trail to the top. Every few minutes, we would stop, turn around, and look at the view of Bar Harbor and the coastline. This photo was taken at the top. Bar Harbor is just a small collection of white dots with 2 cruise ships.
Making this hike gave me a “Top of the world” feeling. You could also call it a mountaintop experience. I believe these experiences are a recognition of goodness. The goodness of God. Maybe we recognize the goodness in nature. Maybe the goodness in someone else, a stranger even. Or in ourself.
We want to remain in these moments, but that is not possible because life goes on. If you stay on top of the mountain, you’re going to get cold and hungry. And if you stay too focused on the last experience, you might miss the next one.
This is a photo taken in Makoshika State Park, Montana. What you see here is largely the result of erosion, which could be thought of as addition by subtraction. Michelangelo famously stated “Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.”
I like to think of this scene as an example of God sculpting. Something similar happens in our lives. Unnecessary things get stripped away to allow God’s goodness to show through.
This is a photo from our recent flight into Panama City; the Panama Canal is in middle of photo. It really is an amazing feat of engineering. No less amazing (at least in my mind) is the story of how Yellow Fever was mostly eliminated from the Canal Zone through simple measures to control mosquitoes.
The Panamanians have an expression, “El Canal somos todos” which could be loosely translated as “The Canal is everything.” On this Easter, let us remember that Jesus is everything!
This photo is a view of Sand Beach in Acadia, taken from the Beehive summit (we hiked up the back side). I find it striking to see this strip of sand between the ocean and a lagoon. Mount Desert Island, where most of Acadia is located, has mostly rocky shore. So this beach is doubly unusual. I tried to find out more information about why this beach exists the way it does, but couldn’t find much more than a comment about the fine sand existing due to the cove protecting the beach from strong waves.
These days, I’m more amazed when I can’t find the information I’m looking for than when I can. The news is filled with commentary about the potential use (or misuse) of AI. It seems the more we know, the more we know we don’t know.
This photo is a view of Jordan Pond, looking across at the South Bubble in Acadia NP. It is thought to be the remnant of a glacier. This water is so clear that you can typically see 44 feet down. I’ve found that it is very hard to judge the depth of the water when it is so clear. Of course, it is also very difficult to judge the depth of the water when it is very murky! I guess you could say the difference is in seeing or not seeing what you don’t know.
It is said that “Seeing is believing” but it is important to remember that we are easily misled by what we see.