Eight of us Ode’s arrived at Chicago’s famed Shedd Aquarium. We saw fish of all sizes and shapes . . .
and dolphins and penguins and starfish in shallow tubs so you can touch them — so much to enchant us all. We ran around here for hours. We lost parts of our party for a time now and then but eventually we all found each other. We never did find the polar bears advertised on the signage, but the search was fun anyway.
When I asked Maddie what was her favorite, she said without hesitating: “The stingrays.” Whoa, that would not be my answer. I’ve had a personal encounter with one of these. The scar on my ankle is testament. Running happily into the ocean, I stepped dead on one of Maddie’s favorite things. I had rudely disturbed the ray, and he gave a fierce wave of his sharp tail, zinging deep into my ankle. After the stunning jolt of pain, blood gushed. I sat on the beach and worried about the mess of all that blood pouring out on the pale sand. Soon intense cramps moved up my leg. Later there were x-rays, swelling, infections, and rounds of antibiotics. Six months afterward, a piece of stinger finally worked its way out, popping through the skin.
But why dampen Maddie’s enthusiasm? Actually, I wasn’t at all worried about Maddie because this is how she viewed the stingrays that day.
You see, her Daddy held onto her. He held her tight while she got a good look. No way would her Daddy drop her into that little bit of ocean with the stingery beings that can savage ankles.
Right there in Shedd Aquarium I saw a picture of how it is with God and his children. He holds us and he won’t let go and our souls are safe, safe in the middle of all of the beauty, the fun, the lostness, the times we follow paths that lead nowhere. “He will not let your foot slip — he who watches over you will not slumber.” (Ps 121:3). Nothing can tear us from his arms; nothing can separate us from his love.
My favorite, by the way, is the starfish — docile, slow-moving, and stinger-free.
What’s your favorite sea creature?