Nevertheless, I'm very interested in marine mammals, though mostly just those in the dolphin family. And I don't see that interest as a secular interest. I'm not a fan of distinctions between the sacred and secular, and while I'm not always successful, I do try to make sure things that occupy my mind fit within my belief system. I briefly entertained the idea of studying marine biology at the College of Charleston many moons ago when I was thinking through colleges and courses of study. I eventually chose a Christian college where I studied math education, and I don't regret that decision. I had previously swum with dolphins at a research facility in Key Largo, Florida during a summer camp with my youth group at church. The dolphins came on either side of me and pulled me through the water as I held on to their fins. I wasn't a strong swimmer and slipped off, and they graciously came back around to get me again. I was hooked.
Fast forward a couple of decades. Life and responsibility and ministry led me away from the east coast. But I eventually landed on the west coast. There, I met the biggest dolphins of all, the Orca whale, and I fell in love again. My husband has made it possible for me to go to what he jokingly calls whale school this summer, a week of training to become a naturalist who can lead whale watching tours in the Pacific Northwest. I could wax eloquent for a bit on the incredible intelligence and awe inspiring relational nature of the local pods of killer whales here, but I'll just link to this documentary if you want an idea yourself.
I spent last week back on the east coast, watching pods of dolphins swim up and down the channel near our beach house on Edisto Island, South Carolina. I snickered to think of all the money I had been willing to spend on dolphin and whale tours, and here, for free, 20 of them were swimming up and down the coastline as we played in the water 30 feet away from them.
Creation is broken, but it was not utterly destroyed. And there are still many glimpses to be had of the awe of what God created in perfection for us to enjoy with Him. For me, dolphins are a little hint of that. Behind the chimpanzee, they are the smartest animal on earth. They communicate better than my dogs do, and my dogs are pretty good communicators. I note that when a serpent walked up to Eve in the Garden of Eden and started talking to her, she just talked back. No one seemed surprised by the conversation, and I suspect that in perfection animal communication was the norm, not the exception. When I study dolphins and observe their behavior, I don't attribute the image of God to them—no, only man was made to reflect God in such a way. Yet I recognize that they too were created by our God, and I'm amazed by what remains after the fall that continues to reflect the awesomeness of our Creator.
You likely have something else that resonates deep within your heart and makes you long for perfection. Maybe it's a mountain vista that reflects the grandeur of God to you. Maybe it's the beauty of the birth of a new life. I think different pieces of creation resonate to us individually. For me, it's the warm ocean breeze washing over me as I watch a family of dolphins rolling in and out of the water with the sound of gentle waves in the background. One day, I'll enjoy that in perfection where God Himself is the Sun that shines down on us. That thought ministers deeply to my soul in troubled times.
4 Praise him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens!
5 Let them praise the name of the Lord! For he commanded and they were created.
6 And he established them forever and ever; he gave a decree, and it shall not pass away.
7 Praise the Lord from the earth, you great sea creatures and all deeps,
8 fire and hail, snow and mist, stormy wind fulfilling his word!
9 Mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars!
10 Beasts and all livestock, creeping things and flying birds!
11 Kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all rulers of the earth.
12 Young men and maidens together, old men and children!
13 Let them praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted; his majesty is above earth and heaven.
14 He has raised up a horn for his people, praise for all his saints, for the people of Israel who are near to him.
Praise the Lord!