Since the perfection of blessedness consists in the knowledge of God, he has been pleased, in order that none might be excluded from the means of obtaining felicity, not only to deposit in our minds that seed of religion of which we have already spoken, but so to manifest his perfections in the whole structure of the universe, and daily place himself in our view, that we cannot open our eyes without being compelled to behold him.Yeah. So saith Saint John Calvin in the opening pages of the Institutes of the Christian Religion. Anyone who maintains that Calvin didn't care much about nature doesn't read him. He begins the entire argument with our almost instinctive awareness of God's own magnificence presence--his reality even--in nature. We know there is a God because we see Him in his own divine handiwork. Listen to the birds and you hear him singing. Watch a dawn and you have absolutely no doubt that you're in the presence of artist of eternal proportions. Experience his grace and you know love like none other.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, Calvin never had a patio door.
Take the squirrels just outside. They know me well enough not to run if I scream at 'em to get the heck off the bird feeder. I leave corn in a pan just outside my door, and they come up and eat thereof at all hours of the day--that's fine with me. But I hate it when they run up the bird feeder and run off the goldfinches and the indigo buntings. Besides, they absolutely devour bird seed--I could go broke.
I feed 'em anyway because they're a resident circus. They know we've got a cat, but they've got poor Benny's number. Often enough, before they start into the pan of corn I set out, they'll look in the window to check where he is. If they see him, it matters not a whit--they'll start in. Eat?--good night, they can pack it away.
When Benny decides to hunt 'em, getting into his patented cat crouch and creeping in instantaneous starts toward the window, squirrel knows full well he's there and couldn't care less. Benny's cat-like reactions are quite magnificent--squirrel looks away for a second, and his body inches closer. Squirrel sees him, and he freezes. It's gorgeously pan-African.
Once he's close enough to pounce, pow!--he does.
Unfortunately, there's a window. Like I said, he knows it, sadly enough, so he rears as if he's some wild west mustang, and paws terrifyingly and clawlessly at the glass. If he's lucky, squirrel looks up; if he isn't, squirrel just keeps on munching. Embarrassed at his own impotence, Benny sulks away. Happens daily.
I found a cob of corn last night in an old bag and jammed it down on a nail hammered in a board where, all winter long, I put them out. Didn't take long and one of locals found it and started in jawing off kernels. Sometimes, they're so human, it hurts. They eat 'em one at a time, of course, but like a kid with an Oreo, they eat out the cream of the crop first, the very heart of the kernel, then toss the rest like an orange peel. They're fussy. They're uppity.
If they get hungry later, they'll come back and finish off what they started, but when there's a ton of the good stuff around, they'll fill their bellies with center cuts before starting in on the hot dogs.
The grackles outside my window can take over the neighborhood, running off the songbirds. I've not yet figured out why; oddly enough, only those sweet little doves seem capable of running 'em of. Right now Cliff and Claire Huxtable are out there, as they have been several times in the last week. They've got a kid along they can't get rid of, a noisy little brat who seems old enough to eat on his own but insists, much to his old man's chagrin, in being fed. Blasted kid makes so much noise when he begs that I want to step outside myself and tell him to grow up.
And Claire actually gives in. She plays hard to get for a while, but she's way too easy on the kid, but then I'm old fart who thinks all of 'em get away with way too much these days.
I'm not sure whether what happens outside my window every morning, every day, every evening is exactly what John Calvin had in mind when he tried to interpret God's own divine magnificence. More like total depravity maybe, the other side of reformer's theological coin.
For years already, I've tried to catch glimpses of God in early morning photographs. It's silly actually because no image does him justice, not even the perfect sunset. And yet he's there in everything I shoot, even the misty mornings, like this one, even the rain, even the snow, even the wind--because he's never really not there.
Even, I swear, he's there just outside my window.