Ok – let’s just say my office is a little, shall we say, cluttered. I prefer to call it an eclectic gathering of interesting objects to delight and amaze. For instance, I have a set of Norwegian trolls that stand about a foot tall; an aluminum casting of an underground ant colony; a Lego model of a Saturn V rocket; a print of a pig flying… off a dock into a pond; a lighter belonging to my dad which was from the US Embassy in the USSR; numerous stoneware crocks; ledger paper paintings from a Lakota Sioux artist; and my newest acquisition – a large ammonite fossil. Sometimes, I’ll admit, I just look around my office and admire the completely unthemed mass of stuff…
But let’s talk about the ammonite. My sons know that I have a keen interest in almost everything except lima beans, but that one my longing has been to own fossils. I’ve never been able to justify the cost of buying a T-rex head, or even a large piece of amber with insects imbedded, but for Father’s day recently, they pooled resources and gave me a very cool large ammonite. It’s a fossilized sea creature from about 110 million years ago – before the internet – and this one was discovered in Madagascar. That makes two things the ammonite and I do not have in common. Apparently, it was once a mollusk, actually close in relationship to an octopus – with a shell. Ok, that makes three things. Of course, today it’s a rock, petrified and mineralized over the thousands of years, to then finally have the honor of sitting on my shelf on a little plastic stand.
I love the look of it. It’s dark brown, with a swirl that reminds me of a flattened ram’s horn. It contains what they call “suture lines” – little frilled and curled lines that separate the shell into compartments. It is dynamic, even while it sits on the stand, and after only 110 million years, it almost seems to be alive – a living rock.
What I love most about it, though, is that as I look at it, I see God’s creative hand. This once-living thing is an ongoing memorial and reminder that God has both the ability and willingness to bring to life, and to preserve in death such beauty and such fascinating detail of how a thing, even such an ancient thing, would appear to the world, and would function as part of creation itself. It’s almost hard to grasp that God would take such care for a mollusk – not much more than a shell-encased bug! We marvel at tigers and pandas and kangaroos, to think that God would create such fascinating and marvelous creatures – but we need to always remember that God has created ALL that is, and that will be, and has done so with exquisite care and has called it “good.”
And God created you. Now, you may not look like a ram’s horn, or have thin golden lines running across you, but you too are wonderfully made. As the boys would go to bed when they were little, first they would sit on either Cheri’s or my lap, and in their little pajamas, we would sing the song Mr. Rogers would sing: “Some are fancy on the outside – some are fancy on the inside. Everybody’s fancy, everybody’s fine – your body’s fancy, and so is mine…” Although I doubt a little ammonite’s parents sang to it, no doubt God did, as God reminded it, and reminds us of just how fancy we all are, because God has made us so. Mr. Rogers stumbled across a holy hymn, which is in awe of God, the fancy-maker.
So, whether you look at an ammonite on your shelf today, or simply poke your head out the window and breathe with your lungs and your eyes the fancy that is this world, be sure to offer thanks for the privilege and the gift of this day, also a creation of the God who loves you.
Word for the day: bombinate. It means “to buzz or hum.” Go ahead and bombinate a little. However, the meaning has changed a bit from its earliest use, which was Latin bombilare or bombus, which came from the Greek bombos, which meant a deep, hollow sound – what we would call a “booming” sound today. Far different from listening to a bumblebee, isn’t it? Except, when we hum, mouth closed, deep in our skulls, the vibration echoes around the bone, and we buzz and boom at the same time. And we can also really irritate the person sitting next to us at the library…
After 43 years of ministry, Randy Cross lived his "fourth life" and shared about retirement, living boldly and intentionally in our world. To be sure, there was some North Dakota thrown in.