Thursday, November 4, 2010

Animal (AND PEOPLE!) Migrations

(1st half is taken from National Geographic article)

What is it that makes animal migration such a magnificent spectacle for the eye and the mind? Is it the sheer abundance of wildlife in motion? Is it the steep odds to be overcome? Is it the amazing feats of precise navigation? The answer is all of the above.

But there’s another reason why the long-distance journeys of wildebeests, sandhill cranes, monarch butterflies, sea turtles, and so many other species inspire our awe.

One biologist has noted the “undistractibility” of migrating animals. A nonscientist, risking anthropomorphism, might say: Yes, they have a sense of larger purpose.

Animal migration is a phenomenon far grander and more patterned than animal movement. It represents collective travel with long-deferred rewards. It suggests premeditation and epic willfulness, codified as inherited instinct

A biologist named Hugh Dingle, striving to understand the essence, has identified five characteristics that apply, in varying degrees and combinations, to all migrations.

They are:
(1) prolonged movements that carry animals outside familiar habitats
(2) they tend to be linear, not zigzaggy
(3) they involve special behaviors of preparation (such as overfeeding) and arrival
(4) they demand special allocations of energy

And one more: Migrating animals maintain a fervid attentiveness to the greater mission, which keeps them undistracted by temptations and undeterred by challenges that would turn other animals aside.  These critters flat-out just gonna get there...They are driven at that moment by an instinctive sense of something we humans find admirable: larger purpose

[[By David Quammen-]]


My thoughts:
In additional to animal migrations, there are also several people groups in the world that are migratory as well.  I’m generally referring to nomadic people groups who physically move from place to place ( )

But, as I read this article this morning, I also immediately thought of another transitory group of people.  Those who have been called to live in this world, but not of it (1 John 2:15).  Those who have been assigned the task of fixing our eyes on things that are unseen in this life (2 Corinthians 4:18).  Those who have a place in another world that is being prepared for them (John 14:13).  Those who keep their eyes on the goal as they press on (Philippians 3:14).

These people are also on a migratory mission and have a undying sense of a greater purpose. 

The question then becomes, am I a part of this group?  And if so, am I appropriately filling in that space that is designated for my own specific two feet?

As a migratory being, am I:
(1) really persevering outside of my 'familiar habitat" or have I organized my life so that I can avoid moving beyond what is known to me, and what is out of my control?
(2) staying the course in front of me, or am I distracted by the mountains to climb, and oceans to swim?  Am I getting caught up in, or jealous of, a course that someone else has been assigned (thus 'moving in a zigzaggy fashion')?
(3) making special preparations (faith, experiences, education) to travel the course well?  Are these things keeping me moving at an appropriate pace?  Am I dragging my feet, and potentially delaying and discouraging those around or behind me?  Or am I running faster than I should be, thus trampling those in front of me?
(4) requesting Divine Help all along the way (as animals "demand special allocations of energy")?

And lastly - am I quiet as I travel along, or am I so excited about what is to come, that I can't help but talk about it with my fellow travelers?

This morning, Lord- please guide me on this migratory journey you have me on.  May I be a blessing to those around me, moving at the pace assigned for me for today – rejoicing in the frustrations and joys that will come.  Thank you for walking in front of me, holding my hand and leading the way.  Thank you for being there beside me, helping to keep my eyes focused on you and not be distracted.  Thank you for standing behind me, whispering encouragement to press on when I fall back.  And thank you for giving me a greater purpose to strive for, because of which, I can boldly and gladly share with others.

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