Last week was a wonderful celebration of the wedding of my only niece. The bride and groom were beautiful, both physically and spiritually, and the pictures that were taken reflected that. As I watched the photographers painstakingly position the happy couple I felt the faint summer breeze against my face and the warmth of the sun embracing me. It was a good day. Then I thought about the many wedding parties that I had witnessed posing for their pictures outside. I had gone to a park in Windsor just over the water from Detroit to write on Saturday afternoon. While there I saw six wedding parties that day, two were married in the park. Then I thought about the eleven wedding party picture poses I saw while in Israel at Caesarea Philipi, all taken among the ruins. There is something revelatory about bridal pictures that are taken outside among the monuments, the trees, the lakes, the ruins. I think it speaks to hope of longevity just as the trees, the plants, the streams, yes even the monuments, the ruins.
Most states have their answer to places for outside enjoyment. There are many parks and walking areas around the district and they are full of runners, walkers, riders, roller bladders, people with babies, people with dogs, couples – older and younger, photographers, artists, dancers, writers. People who love getting out in the fresh air, beneath the clouds or under the stars. This Fourth of July weekend brings more events of celebrations outside. Many will be heading to the mountains, the lakes, the beaches; well, I think you get the picture. Most people love being outside.
Don’t you just love the outdoors? There is something serene, pastoral , about walking a quiet forest path. One can marvel at God’s work with the trees, the plants, animals and with self in that place. What about relaxing by a mountain stream, or a lake, or even at the beach on the ocean? There is indeed so much to be observed, learned, revealed in any of those places. And they offer relaxation, rejuvenation, restoration and exploration, all right there.
I am speaking to those who love the outside, whether you golf, fish, hunt, hike, whatever you do outside in the parks or in the wilderness areas. You have already developed an appreciation of the glorious resources that God has provided mankind. In the United States alone there are 623 million acres of land of four types: National Parks, National Forests, National Wildlife Refuges, and Western areas all overseen by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. The Wilderness Act of 1964 created the National Wilderness Preservation System, and at that time designated 9.1 million acres of Wilderness. Congress expanded that to 107 million acres in a total of 702 wilderness areas in every state except: Kansas, Iowa, Delaware, Maryland, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. There is so much to explore!
In the Bible, over 300 references are made to wilderness and sometimes interchangeably with desert as uninhabited land, land used to pasture flock, abode of wild animals, a remote place, a wild place. In order to bring clarity, we will use the partial definition as per the Wilderness Act of 1964, while understanding that we are speaking a larger population than those places left unchecked inside Public Lands. That definition of wilderness: “Where the earth and its community of life are untamed by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.”
Using that definition, we can feel something larger than self, something uncontrolled by man, yet always controlled by God. And we can marvel at the sheer magnitude of possibility that something has gone for so long without mankind’s help; it causes us to yearn for whatever that level of sustainability is and that points us to our Creator God.
We have a responsibility to Creation to aid in the sustainability though Creation care. What can you do? Speak out for the endangered species that inhabit the public lands and wilderness. Make your voice heard on the stripping of the land through mountaintop removal. Find out the great things being done to preserve these areas. There are many ideas of support for the public lands and wilderness areas. I invite you to view pictures from our wilderness photo contest and join me in creating your own photos, your own memories by getting out. While out, take time to marvel at the biodiversity in those places. Enjoy!
Me? Oh I’m golfing, and I’m trying a new thing for me – kayaking. Happy Fourth of July! Type to you later.