I watched the sun rise over the ocean this morning. I am blessed to be in a beach house on the shores of the Atlantic in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, the extravagant gift of friends who like to bless people in ministry by offering the gift of a vacation in their beautiful home on the ocean. From the beach house window I watched dolphins jump in synchronicity. A wide eyed crab seemed to pose for me in the sand as I took his picture. All day I have listened to the powerful roar of the waves as they crescendo and crash.
In my first year out of college I became a certified scuba diver. I have done enough diving and snorkeling to know that as I look out over the blue waves of the ocean there is another world below its surface. Underneath, the ocean is teeming with thousands of species of multi-colored fish, sea turtles, lobster, stingrays, sharks, porpoises and jellyfish. Oceans cover more than 75% of the earth’s surface and most of the life in it has never been observed by a human eye. It’s just there, wonderfully complex and beautiful.
I enjoy backpacking in the Appalachian and Rocky Mountains. I love going to the book stores in the areas where I hike. I have to restrain myself. Alongside shelf after shelf of books about birds and trees and animals, I have seen books identifying at least 10,000 different types of mushrooms! And you can buy animal scat guides. It’s amazing what you can learn from the excrement of the animals on the trail. I have become especially interested in using this method to identify the beasts I might encounter while hiking. Every animal’s scat is different. Come on, God, did you have to pay such attention to detail?!
As I trek along the ocean beach and through the mountains and the woods I am amazed by the variety of species of plants and animals. God could have created one kind of flower, or perhaps two or three, and the world would have been beautiful. But there are 40,000 identified species of Orchids alone! There is an effusiveness to God’s character, an overflowing extravagance. St. Augustine called it the “plentitude” of God, the lavish, overflowing love and creativity of God is bountifully displayed in nature. I want to live in that place of extravagant love, creativity and generosity, the kind of generosity I am experiencing from the friends who have provided this vacation for me, and in the effusive plentitude of God.