It wasn’t our family’s first time to the zoo. More like the 15th. But it never gets old. There is always something new and wonderful to discover. Whether it’s a couple of cute little spider monkeys playing tag in the treetops or a line of penguins eagerly awaiting their turn to slide down the icy slopes belly-first into the frigid water, there’s no shortage of awe-inspiring entertainment from the animal kingdom.
But on this visit, I didn’t expect it to come from a polar bear. Bears aren’t exactly exciting to watch, at the zoo, at least. Except for the occasional nosing a ball or eating a fish, they are usually sleeping.
But on that day, we were in luck. A brand polar bear exhibit had just been finished. His facility was impressive. With an enormous expanse of mountainous rock to climb on and a 12 foot deep ice cold tank of water to swim in, he looked pretty excited about his new digs.
We walked up to the glass and stood behind a crowd of school children. I have never seen a polar bear swim. On land, they move slowly, waddling about like most bears do. But in the water, oh my. This guy was GORGEOUS. Every stroke was majestic. His huge, enormous dog-like paws paddled through the water like powerful oars, propelling him forward. He would push off the bank with one paw and shoot across like a rocket to the other bank, back and forth, in a playful manner. Then he’d climb up onto a rock and dive back in, sending a tremendous gush of water into the air that splashed the glass, much to all of our enjoyment.
At some point, a group of school children were so tickled with his antics that they started chanting, “Dive! Dive! Dive!” He knew how to play to his audience, let me tell you. He started pretending to play with a ball, facing the other direction, but as the kids chanted louder and louder, he lift his nose into the air, as if to say, “Is that the best you can do?” and then suddenly, he would turn towards us and dive straight down into the bottom of the tank, sending an enormous wave of water crashing into the glass. We all cheered and chanted and he would do it again and again.
He reminded me of the Pink Dragon from The Never Ending Story. One of those creatures that looks too enormous to be majestic, but shockingly graceful. Powerful and elegant all at once.
I stood there experiencing a deep sense of awe for my Creator. It was a worship-full moment, watching this majestic creature play and show off his strength and beauty, all the while, recognizing that the Great Creator made him. The same Creator who made the earth and the sky and the sea. As Psalm 19 says, “The heavens declare the glory of God and the sky reveals His handiwork…”
Could science have done this? Perhaps. But oh, when you take a look at the world through the eyes of one who believes in a good and awesome God that created animals like the polar bear with intricate thought and design, you can’t help but be inspired to worship Him.
Thank you, Father, for a glimpse of You today when I saw that polar bear.
And, in the words of my daughter, “Mommy, I think there will be polar bears in heaven. But they will be nice.”
Amen, sista. I can’t wait.