Not far away from the industrial chimneys and busy roads outside my window, there’s a stretch of water, which attracts herons, swans, kingfishers and other water birds. During the recent lockdowns and restrictions, it has become a haven, not just for wildlife, but for anyone seeking beauty and stillness away from the ‘cut and paste’ news broadcasts, which have focused heavily on the pandemic. It’s surprising how spending time outdoors, and experiencing nature first-hand, can take away the stresses and strains of urban life.
Some years ago, when the name ‘Corona’ was just a brand of lemonade, I lived not far from a series of small lakes, that were very popular with bird watchers. Those lakes still attract a huge variety of different bird species, and today it’s a Site of Special Scientific Interest. When I used to pass huddled groups of enthusiasts, scanning the skies with their binoculars, I often wondered, whether they wondered about the intricate design that goes to make up each bird.
Let me explain. Last week a helicopter crew flying over the barren desert of south-eastern Utah spotted a gleaming, metal monolith, estimated to be “between 10 and 12 foot high,” in a deserted canyon, surrounded by red rock formations. There have been guesses as to its source, but no one actually knows how this mysterious object got there. But with its parallel dimensions, smooth surfaces and straight lines, no one is suggesting that it got there by itself. Someone made it.
Similarly, on many television natural history programmes, the presenters often can’t help using the word “designed” when describing the bodies of different creatures. In fact anyone looking at nature with an unbiased eye can see design, including in our remarkable bird life.
Yesterday was Thanksgiving in the United States and Brazil; a time to give thanks for the harvest and to gather with family and friends. If there were no Designer, who would we thank for the beauty of our natural world, and who would we call on when in need? It takes humility to recognise that, unlike Muhammed Ali, we are not “The Greatest”, but there is Someone greater than ourselves, who loves and cares for us His creation, and to whom we can say, “Thank You!”
“Giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honours me. If you keep to my path, I will reveal to you the salvation of God.” Psalm 50:23 (NLT)
NEWS UPDATE: Since its discovery on 18th November 2020, many have visited Utah’s mysterious, metal monolith. However, today’s visitors (Sunday 29th November) report that the monolith has now been removed, presumably overnight. Only a small pile of rocks and a triangular piece of metal from the top of the structure were left behind. Utah’s Bureau of Land Management said that it had not removed the structure, but it had been removed “by an unknown party”.