Naturalist

I’ve previously recommended Sacred Pathways by Gary Thomas. (I’m still very hot on this book — if you can, I highly recommend buying it.) After reading it (twice), I figured out that I have naturalist as one of my spiritual temperaments.

A naturalist is someone who draws closer to God in the outdoors. There’s something about the solitude and the wonders of nature that get my spiritual blood pumping.

Today, I went out to a park near my home. I intended to just walk a mile or so and then go back home. Even at the unseasonably warm temperature of thirty degrees (Fahrenheit; that’s -1 for those who use Celsius), I wasn’t planning on staying too long. It was quite brisk out.

But, I achieved only a hundred yards or so into the park. There, I crossed a bridge over a creek. And, that’s pretty much as far as I got, because there were a couple dozen ducks swimming away in the creek. It amused me to no end watching them.

I was thinking “what kind of spiritual principles can I get from these ducks?” But, wouldn’t you know, I just couldn’t think of anything particularly profound.

They were in two groups of about a dozen each. Males and females both. And, I wondered how on earth they keep warm! The creek was partially-frozen, so the water temp was right around freezing. Brrrr. But, it didn’t seem to bother them.

Then, I noticed that there was one male who was swimming by himself. He would swim toward his group, but then another male would chase him off. All those ducks getting along with each other, but the alpha male just kept chasing the other poor duck away.

Surely, there was some kind of message in that! But, no, nothing came to mind.

Later, I saw one of them fly up a few feet, and then come down to land in the water. Except, he landed on the ice, and went for a slide. I don’t think it was intentional; he just didn’t see the ice. (In a river in Minnesota in the winter, the ice can be the same color as the water, making it hard to see exactly where the ice ends and the water starts.)

It was kind of funny, though.

Now, a few hours later, I think I realize why I couldn’t come up with anything spiritual while I was out there: God just wanted me to be with Him. He threw in a couple of interesting events, but not for any particular purpose.

I’m glad I got to spend a half-hour with Him in the woods. It was fun, and I’ll surely do it again. This naturalist bent of mine says I should do it a lot more often, even in cold weather.

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