A Practical Beauty

Why do birds sing? And why do they have so many brilliant colors and subtle markings? Take the warblers, for example. Page after page of different kinds in the bird guide; pine warbler, yellow warbler, blackburnian, chestnut-sided, black and white…. Just looking at a single page, I can barely distinguish between them. I am confident that when God created the tiny warblers, He could have given them the ability to find each other, without those bright colors and all that singing every morning. He could have created a generic warbler that would meet up with another generic warbler and raise young.

But God is not just practical. The little warblers do more than live and get their parenting done. When we just amble through the little path in the woods, our minds preoccupied with all the things we need to get done, people to contact, bills to pay, and errands to complete. Then, unexpectedly, He confronts us with the tiny warblers. We are startled by their individual melodies and their pallet of color. We think we are such hot stuff much of the time. If nothing else, we move about in a self-centered way; perhaps even thinking we own some kind of special place at the top of the created order; as if it was something we did, rather than a place we were given.

Let’s pause to reflect on a few facts: Hummingbirds – the tiniest of birds – fly all the way to Central America. Monarch butterflies migrate from Western Massachusetts to a forest of trees near Mexico City. Herring, swimming out deep in the ocean, find their way back to the same stream and pond where they were born. Wood frogs survive the cold winter by slowing their heartbeat. Their blood becomes like antifreeze, so they can almost freeze without dying. Robins have a rear toe with a tendon that locks, so they can sleep on a branch without falling off. Or consider how a frog egg becomes a tadpole breathing underwater, and eventually becomes an adult frog with four legs, that breathes air. Then again, in winter, frogs bury themselves in mud at the bottom of the pond and take in oxygen through their skin. The list is endless. The scroll rolls out, on and on, revealing the intricacy in each creature. And once again, I ask why? Perhaps because God is generous. He enjoys detail and beauty. Let us open our eyes like children, and enjoy a sense of wonder again.

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