Lessons from the Zoo

We spent a great day at our Columbus Zoo, one of the best I’ve ever seen.  I was reminded of something I first thought of many years ago; that the animals there seem to be enjoying just being themselves.  A bear doesn’t try to be a lion, a manatee is content to be a manatee, and a bonobo has fun doing what comes naturally.  I observed this again today, and my mind then did what it often does in these situations.  I wondered why, among all the creatures on earth, human beings don’t seem to enjoy being and doing what the Creator put us here to be and do.  I’ve been to social gatherings where it seems that many folks are trying to be something…or someone…they’re not.  They want the rest of the crowd to think they’re more than they really are, that they earn and have more than they really do,  and that they have only success in what they try to accomplish.  In other words, we humans play a lot of games with one another, and we are miserable when we consider what we really are.  Maybe we need to apply the words of St. Paul to our lives, “…I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. ” (Philippians 4: 11)  The Apostle could say that because he found his identity and sense of self worth in his faith in Christ, so he found contentment and inner peace that didn’t depend at all on the values and opinions of others, who chose the rat race that leads to nothing but despair.  Gentle beasts, our brothers and sisters in the zoo and in the wild, please teach us to be more like you.  If we do so, God is sure to smile and say, “Ah, at last they understand!”

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