We have been to the mountaintop. We have loved – and been loved – by our Father and His glorious Creation. Just like all of nature, we are wildly alive in His hands.
Our hosts here in India, John & Carol, are from the western coast of India and for years, they have encouraged us to visit other regions to experience India at a deeper level. Last weekend, we were grateful for the opportunity to experience different tribes, cultures, languages, climates, and geographical features in the mountains and jungles of western India. The Western Ghats Mountains overflow into 3 Indian states – Kerala, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu (where we have spent all of our previous visits over the past 6 years). As we boarded the train for the mountains, we were filled with excited anticipation of the opportunities God may have in store for us.
In the Nilgiri region of India, the mountains are pristine and serene. Villagers respect and value the wild animals that roam freely; most consider it a privilege to share this garden with …
We found ourselves in a magnificent sanctuary God has given to His creation. 7,000 ft. mountains are almost completely covered in flowers. I laugh as I remember my pride when I was able to grow a sprawling lantana plant that reached a height of almost 3 ft. at my Texas home. Here, in the cool of God’s jungle, I am awed by what the all-powerful Cultivator of Life has created. Lantana of every color and variety towers 20 ft. or more. Hundreds and hundreds of sq. kilometers covered in jungle, and most of it covered with blooms of every color.
40’ tall bamboo plants tower over the blooms. We are stunned to see a cactus growing from the same branch of a 30’ tall tree that also produces huge, broad leaves. The hillsides are crowded with Teak, Sandalwood, and Rosewood trees. And always standing guard nearby, the stately – and sometimes worshipped – Banyan tree, sending its roots downward from branch to ground, forming intricate patterns of skeletal structure. Gnarled and twisted, it’s a tree that seems fully alive more than any other. We are overwhelmed by the Majesty surrounding us.
The near silence is mesmerizing. Gone are the putt-putting sounds of Tuk-Tuks and the constant beep-beeping of horns. The sounds of human activity have been replaced by the evidence of a simpler life - screeches of distant monkeys and, in the evening and early morning, the haunting calls of the wild peacocks. The almost constant chirp-chirping of warblers, woodpeckers, and kingfishers remind us that their offspring are nourished among the huge blooms of every hue. This seems to be a Holy place.
The peacocks are a glorious surprise. Slowly, majestically, the male peacock struts, his iridescent blue throat bobbing to and fro, seeking an opening in the brush wide enough to swish his long and regal tail-feathers. And then, as if lighter than air, he quite suddenly takes flight to a tall branch, standing watch over his kingdom. Somehow, he seems to exemplify the Majesty of this garden.
As in any garden, safety is not guaranteed. Danger lurks behind every bush. How to navigate the constant threats? For many, it is community. Deer herd together, males and females, always on the lookout for the wild tigers who prowl in the brush. Overhead, the leopard poises on the tree limb, waiting for the opportunity to pounce on a vulnerable deer and return to the safety of the tall tree limbs to devour his prey.
Wild elephants team together to protect the newborn by surrounding the babies at all times, feeding, cleansing, meandering – but always listening to their instincts to protect their young. When outside threats come near, males charge, ivory tusks thrashing about, warning others that they are willing and more than capable of defending their own.
As I write this, I see the jungle in my mind once again. I smell the sweetness of the blooms and feel the cool breezes on my arms. I can hear the animals’ cries in the early morning. My hope is that in some small way, you can see the jungle through my words and images too. But sights and sounds and smells all pale in comparison to what we actually experienced in the jungle. We experienced the Creator in all of His glory.
The lyrics from the video seems to have been written by the animals themselves:
Your Grace has found me just as I am
Empty-handed but alive in Your hands.
The animals move about the jungle every day, in need of nourishment and yet empty-handed. They have no possessions, carry no mobile phones, worry not what they are wearing. The Father has dressed them from birth and fed them in abundance. Each and every day, this lush garden provides for their every need. Could it be that our Father has provided for our every need in the same manner?
Watching the animals, we are awed by their instinctive behaviors. They sense danger and use some means of communication undetectable by humans to work together to protect their own. But from whom do these instincts flow? Who is guiding their steps, changing their paths, alerting to danger? I’ve always been fascinated by animal instinct and wondered how they “just know.” I like to think that in some inexplicable manner, it’s the same way that I “just know” at times. Do these animals abide with the Father, just as we are called to do? And what power, what protection, what provision is available for all who listen and abide?
Genesis 1:26 tells us we are given dominion over the animals in this majestic place. And yet it is we who have learned from them in this incredible garden. We should rise in the morning, chirping and giving thanks for the glory of a new day. We should swing from the branches and playfully enjoy adventures with those we love. We are to live in community, protecting and teaching our young how to survive and flourish. We must trust the Lord to provide for our every daily need, in abundance. We should abide with our Father without ceasing, following the whisperings of the Spirit as He leads us through every day.
Some of you may have wondered about our noticeable absence from the blog last weekend and wondered where we were. We were on the mountain top. There seems to be but one word to describe the view - Majestic.
In celebration of all creation,
“Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, Lord, is the kingdom; you are exalted over all.” 1 Chronicles 29:11