Good Friday morning ...
Quite often my mind retreats to the experiences I have had in East Africa over the past twenty years. Most of the time my thoughts are of the wonderful friends I have made and the memories I have left behind after each trip.
But this week my thoughts were not of people, friends and acquaintances. Instead my thoughts were of an animal, one of my absolute favorite: the Maasai giraffe. I have always loved this animal, his magnificent appearance, bizarre form, unique gait and colossal height. He is indeed a very distinctive, quirky creature.
The giraffe makes me smile ... sometimes even laugh! They are far from cute. I call them handsome. Even the females who stand a bit shorter than their male companions, but sport the same jagged-edged, vine-leaf-shaped spots of dark chocolate on a yellowish background ... I consider handsome.
The giraffe is one of the most gentle creatures on the planet, not necessarily attributed to their big heart (which can weigh up to twenty-four pounds), but because that's their natural temperment. They are sociable, tolerant, and easy-going. What you might call inoffensive in character.
Have you ever seen a giraffe sleeping? That will make you smile for sure because a giraffe sleeps standing up! Quirky? You bet! But upright snoozing is just one of many unique characteristics of the tallest of living land mammals. To see this huge, beautiful creature standing up to seventeen feet tall (from the ground to the tip of their horns) and spanning some twelve to fifteen feet in length ... to see this giant sleeping on its feet is indeed a sight!
Have you ever seen a giraffe drinking water? That, too will make you smile, for this good-natured mammal must spread its legs wide enough so its neck can bend low enough to reach the water. This is quite a feat considering this lengthy neck has only seven vertebrae (same as a human) and every time it raises its neck, it lifts a massive 550 pounds! Quite an awesome sight! And, I might add, something that is supposed to be impossible if you listen to some scientists ... but according to God's design, a simple reality!
Have you ever seen a giraffe eating? A smile wrinkles across my face just thinking about the image ... for somehow this giant herbivore with a palette for the thorny Acacia and Combretum trees can wheedle its tongue around inch-and-a-half long thorns and come away with a mouthful of bluish-green leaves. And this with a tongue that is up to twenty inches long and as blue as the ocean! What a hoot!
And what about running? Have you ever seen a giraffe run? A beam of a smile, from ear to ear races across my face at the thought. For the giraffe, as huge as it is (weighing up to 4200 pounds) can run really fast ... up to 35 miles per hour using mostly its front legs! It is an elegantly striking sight! And the sounds he exudes while running, distinctive flute-like sounds along with whispered grunts and groans, are almost (almost, I say) sexy.
To see these creatures in their natural habitat, lolly-gagging along in a herd of six or seven, or racing across the dry dessert grass of a savannah, or quietly nibbling a lunch of Acacia leaves under the hot equatorial sun ... this is such a delight. To hide under a tree on a moon-lit night observing a watering hole and watching a giraffe slink down to the waters edge to drink with legs spread wide apart is a fascinating entertainment, especially when the accompanying zebras become the early warning system that danger lurks in the darkness.
These are the thoughts that have peppered my week with memory upon memory, providing for me a perfect diversion from current events.To see or think of the giraffe causes me to marvel. For this is one of God's marvelous creatures, like the mysteriously designed, aerodynamic honneybee, which is not supposed to work the way it does. I mean ... seven vertebrae are just not enough to hold up a 550 pound neck and head ... much less lower it to water level and lift it back up again. This is just not supposed to happen! So some say! But it does happen, because an inteligent Creator had a hand in its design. And what God makes ... He makes well!!!
And its not just the physical aspects of the giraffe that are intriging ... but the drives, the instincts, the unique characteristics that God fashioned within him. And to think that some say this is just a vague force of "nature"! I don't think so!!!
"Then God said, 'Let the earth produce every type of living creature, every type of domestic animal, crawling animal, and wild animal.' And so it was. God made every type of wild animal, every type of domestic animal, and every type of creature that crawls on the ground. God saw that they were very good." [God's Word, Genesis 1:24-25]
Next time you're at the zoo ... check out the giraffe. You will be intrigued! And have a great weekend, marveling at God's wonderful creation ...