Down Nature's Paths



CAN there be anything joyous about nature in January?

 Among the most vivid recollections of my childhood in northern Illinois is the way the rabbits played on the snow on a full­moon-lighted night. A little girl who enjoyed lying awake at night to listen to the waves talking on near-by Lake Michigan, or to watch the dance of leaf shadows cast on her wall by the street light, used also to be thrilled at what she saw on certain January nights.

It seems to her that she will never again see such intensely dazzling moonlight until that time when "the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun" in the new earth. (Isaiah 30:26.) The sparkling brilliance of a January full moon was enhanced, of course, by the snow it shone upon, and it was accented by the corresponding depth of the black tracery of tree silhouettes and shadows. Then it seemed to the watcher at the window that all the rabbits in the world met on the expanse of black-hedged white that was last summer's garden.

Talk about ice frolics! No man-planned performances can equal for spontaneous joy and grace the way those rabbits played. Such races! Such leapfrog! Such intricate games of tag! Such pure joy put to motion! When gradually childhood's absorbed curiosity was overcome by the penetration of 55 degrees of frost (25 degrees below zero) into an unheated bedroom and she returned to her blankets, it would be with an awed wonder if a scene so different from daytime was real or a dream. However a scrutiny of the snow the next day showed that the rabbits had been there, and they had played. Since then she has read of woodsmen's observations of such playfulness written on the snow. It intrigues the imagination—not moon­light and roses, but moonlight and rabbits dancing for joy on the snow!

Since then she has seen the wild rabbits playing in the daytime. Once, feeling the need of music and solitude to feed the soul, she spent a long spring Sabbath afternoon in a little country church house, playing the organ, reading, praying, medi­tating, and watching. She watched the rabbits playing. In the yard, screened from the little-traveled lane by shrubs, perhaps a dozen rabbits gathered. They seemed oblivious of the figure at the window or the sound of the organ. The same joyous games the rabbits of her childhood had played on the snow these Tennessee rabbits played on the grass. Their lighthearted delight did as much as her music to heal her soul disquietude.

Those who are at peace and in harmony with their Creator are happy—January or June. Nature, even in this age, demonstrates that. Fun, thy name is a fat puppy. Spontaneous joy, thine abode is in a flock of lambs. Ecstasy? See a colt demonstrate it. A Kipling writes of the elephant dance, and a Rutledge of the antics of deer on a South Carolina beach. All wild creatures play, except when murderous man injects fear into the atmosphere.

All Bible references to nature and wild creatures in the future age, when Jesus has returned and created a new heaven and a new earth, are to their joy and their playing. The trees clap their hands when Jesus comes. (Isaiah 55:12.) The mountains and the hills break forth in song. (Same verse.) The skies rejoice, and there is no longer a minor chord in the ocean's song. (Psalms 96:11-13; 98:4-9.) The forests sing. (Isaiah 14:5-8.) The animals all play (Isaiah 11:6-9), even the reptiles. Who would think that such lowly and hated creatures as snakes would play! But friends have reported watching their cat, in the moonlight outside their door, playing with a snake. It was no such "playing" as cat with mouse, but a joyous gamboling, harmless and mutually agreeable. If such playfulness is experienced here, how much will it be increased when there is no more death, therefore no more fear!

Perhaps if we cultivated greater simplicity of trust in our heavenly Father, we might find joy even in the January of life.