Sunday, November 29, 2015

lectio divina:: otters

its been awhile since I’ve posted here!

I’ve been working on an idea- I thought I’d throw some ideas out here and see if they work. I’ve been reading this book on speaking, and the author suggested that the best things to talk about are the things that you’re interested in and passionate about- and it got me thinking that my daughter and I are really passionate about otters. then I started wondering how I  could talk about otters and faith at the same time. here are some ideas. throw some more out there for me if you get any ideas:

fearfully and wonderfully made

otters are obviously cute. they are the cutest animals out there. everything they do makes me smile. otters aren’t just cute- they are important. otters eat sea urchins. and sea urchins eat the kelp forest. and thousands of species of marine life live in the kelp forest. so if the otters disappear, then the urchins eat all of the kelp forest and all of those sea creatures die because their home is gone. so really, especially in the Monterey bay, if the otters die, everything else dies with them. in short, they are cute, but they have an important job to do.
and that’s the same for you and me- God has made each of us amazing. our brains, our eyes, our lungs, our hearts, our spines are all amazing feats of engineering. but God didn’t just make us fascinating or pretty or cute, each one of us has an important job to do with our lives- we all have a special purpose from God. we are the keystone of our own environment- and if we don’t do the special job that God has planned for us, then things are in danger of falling apart.
the bible says in ephesians 2:10, “for we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, hich God planned in advance for us to do.” we are God’s workmanship- He made each of us to be an expert at something. He made each of us significant; and just like otters, we are a delight. and just like otters, we don’t even realize that the work we do every day is making a huge impact on someone.

water tight

otters were almost hunted to extinction because of their fur. otter fur is the thickest fur in the animal kingdom. it has over a million hairs per square inch. when you look at a cat, or a dog, you can spread out their fur and see down to their skin- but not with otters. their fur is so thick that you can’t get down to their skin. many marine mammals have blubber to keep them warm, but otters don’t- they don’t need it- they just need that thick pelt.
this fur does cool things too. its essentially water-proof. not only that, it can hold air so that they don’t sink in the water. they have a built in life-preserver. this is why otters can sleep and float at the same time. otters have been seen actually blowing air into their coats to increase their buoyancy. otters spend a lot of time cleaning their fur in order to keep it working correctly.
otters live in the water, but they don’t get wet. that’s crazy isn’t it? they live in the cold pacific ocean, but they don’t get cold. they are perfectly insulated.
it reminds me of something that jesus prayed in john 17: “ I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.
we are in this world, but we are not supposed to be worldly. we are here to make a difference, but not to be OF this world. romans 12 says, “do not be conformed to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” we’re in the world, and we need to make a difference in this world, but we are not to become like this world.
how can you do that? look at otters- they are in the ocean, but they don’t get wet. they insulate themselves. they keep themselves clean. they make a difference in the ocean, without letting the ocean freeze them out. and that’s our job too- to make a difference in the world without becoming worldly. and just like otters, we need to keep ourselves clean, and be intentional about ridding our lives from the gunk that can sink us.


otters stick together. a group of otters is called a raft. I have seen giant rafts of otters- with maybe 100 or more. they stick together. in moss landing, there is a group of otters that chill at the beach. they are always there- they never move. they famously hold hands when they sleep so they don’t float away.
not only that, they train each other and learn from each other. the biologists at the Monterey bay aquarium have discovered that otters are not born with natural instincts. they need to learn to hunt, and dive, and groom their fur from their mother. all otter-knowledge has been passed down, otter to otter.
for you and me to see our faith survive in the turbulent times that we live in, we need to stick together. we need to link arms and help each other. we need to learn from each other and mentor the next generation. romans 12 tells us to, “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.”
every one of us needs people in our lives investing in us, praying for us, asking us the hard questions. and each one of us needs to be responsible to help others.
anyhow- those are some fun ideas. some of these ideas are better than others. otters are cool animals! do yourself a favor and check them out the next time you’re in Monterey!

God is love.-rev-rob