Big Family Sharing Their Home

People around the world are complaining about the clash of wildlife and the human population. They are upset by the bear in their swimming pool; the cougar in their shade tree or the coyote that just ate their Chihuahua! We explained to a neighbor who was visiting that our house cats allow us to share their home with them. She remarked,” I would never have an animal in my house.” I wondered how life would go on if all the diverse creatures of our one big earthly family felt that way. After all we are guests in their home. If you don’t think so just read Genesis.

When God made the world we know, He planted a garden that was an enormous bio-diverse (that’s an understatement) forest filled with every single herb, vegetable, nut, grain, and fruit you can imagine and a whole lot more. He added a symphony of bird songs, a plethora of other hisses, howls, clicks, grunts, shrieks, growls, croaks, yaps, coos, chirps, whistles, snorts, bleats, hoots, etc., etc. He blessed them saying, “Let them flourish and multiply and fill the earth.”

Only after He had created this world for them all, He created man to fellowship with Him, to become intimately acquainted with every creature, and to propagate the garden and to guard and protect the whole lot of it. In that whole story, I never even heard of one house being constructed or of that first family taking a trip to the mall’s clothing store! So, just whose home was it and who had it before we did? Yes, I am one of those environmentalists and animal right’s people who believe that this is their home. We get the joy and privilege of sharing it with them and everyone knows that living in a big family sometimes has its difficulties. But no problem is too difficult to solve if we persistently include our whole family and God in the decision making. “But ask now God’s creatures and they shall teach you, and ask the birds of the air and they shall tell you or speak to the earth and it shall teach you and the fishes of the sea shall inform you, who does not understand that the hand of the Lord has ordained this?” Job 12:7-9

When we lived on the cliffs overlooking “surf city” (Huntington Beach, CA) we were very disturbed when the coastal commission voted yea on a new development. The land, some of the last “undeveloped” open space in Orange County was the home to a colony of ground squirrels whose society might have remained intact for thousands of years. Rare butterfly species, amphibians and unique kinds of birds called it at least, their seasonal home and from generation to generation their permanent one.

After the bulldozers had gone, the foundations were laid and the homes erected. We knew some of the animals would re-enter their neighborhood and would continue to dwell in the newly created parkland beside it and the ocean. Once the project was approved we could do nothing to stop it. The heavy equipment and invasion of the human species had done their damage but now what we feared was little boys with firecrackers and slingshots and mason jars to collect specimens to show to their first grade class and above all, the invasion of domestic cats left outdoors to forage for themselves.

Just a few blocks to the south in Costa Mesa sprawls a wonderful parkland of many hundreds of acres along the Santa Ana River. Here one can spot some of the most uncommon and majestic shorebirds human eyes have ever enjoyed. White shouldered kites, red tailed hawks and ospreys often hovered overhead above native beds of beavertail cactus, native chaparral, and exotic pampas grass.

Bicyclists on the bike trail frequently stopped to watch a pair of baby cottontails or a distant loan coyote, but just beyond the scenic route, lay puddles of crude oil and settling ponds of contaminated brine. Not only had oil wells invaded the parkland, but behind the non-native seven foot screen of pampas grass, BMX cyclists from around the world gathered regularly to create huge mounds of dirt in which to practice their acrobatic maneuvers often with crowds of onlookers.

To their credit I had enjoyed the park for at least a year when I stopped to speak with two young men from France on one bridge that crosses the Santa Ana on Victoria. I casually asked them what brought them to our neighborhood. “Don’t you know,” one of them replied. “This is almost the premier place in the world to train and participate in highly advertised competitions. People come from all over the world to this famous spot.” They walked me down to the sight which existed with the knowledge of our city fathers, but was nevertheless totally illegal.

As I left the 50 or so people flying their dirt bikes, I encountered a very well known local physician, Dr. Jan Vandersloot, a devoted native plant expert installing some beautiful flowering specimens. He was working on that season’s plant restoration project. Vandersloot is a part of the big family sharing their home. Like many who care about our natural community, Dr. Vandersloot’s work not only protects native wild plants, but the creatures that co-exist in that habitat. One of his comments to the Planning Commission was, “Do not relocate our Burrowing Owls.”

The Burrowing Owl is one incredibly beautiful and inquisitive member of the owl family who chooses to live right at our feet. Relocating such a communal vanishing species is hardly an act of conservation! Such unenlightened and ill-advised adventures are right on the verge of annihilating the last vestiges of an awesome avian species.

In an entire city there will likely be only a handful of people who will make their voices heard on behalf of such creatures. Some species may have lived undisturbed since the beginning of recorded history until now! Some people believe that the world is overpopulated but, I strongly believe the world could use a lot more people like Dr. Vandersloot. Maybe you are one of them.

It’s true that the home we share has to meet many needs but it does us good to remember that we are just one part of the family. Scripture reminds us that this earth we call home was not made for us human beings, but for God’s pleasure. He created it all and we have destroyed a great deal of it. Many of our companions speak through beaks and communicate through sounds we can neither imagine nor hear but it’s their home too.

There are only three classes in this family. Those who like Dr. Vandersloot are restoring and replenishing the earth, those who are destroying it and those who are doing nothing.

Revelation 11:18 says that, “God should destroy those who destroy the earth.” I must keep saying this. The earth is destroyed one little gully, one little hilltop, one little spring and one little part of some secluded paradise of a wild place at a time. The final class, those who are doing nothing, may feel their inaction makes them innocent but God says that unprofitable servants will not get off so easily. Those who do the right thing have great reward in the now and in the sweet bye and bye. Before you continue doing nothing you better read Matthew 25:30 or better yet get up, plant a tree or adopt a feral cat and keep it indoors. You have the power to change things just like Dr. Vandersloot and his small group of native plant protectors. Do it for the joy of being out in God’s creation. Do it to renew the earth. Do it for the hope in the eyes of the next generation of your family. They’ll soon be making their home on a planet called earth experiencing a lot of hell and waiting for you to bring it some heaven….even in one-gallon containers.


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