When you step outside your front door, are you confronted by neighbors or strangers? I don’t mean the people who live closest to you. Rather, I want to look both with a wide angle lens and with a magnifying glass. When you cast your eyes to the horizon, do you recognize the trees that you see there? When you look down into the grass, do you know the names of the tiny creatures who call your yard “home”?

Carolina Mantis

For most of us, we probably don’t even notice the trees, plants, animals and insects that we encounter every day. Sometimes, a particularly beautiful flowering plant will catch our eye. But do we know its name?

My daughter is away this week on a field trip in North Florida. They are staying in cabins and spending their time making neighbors out of the strangers who inhabit our state. Her natural history teacher is passionate about loving where you live. Most importantly, his goal for the students this year is that they would step our their front door and be greeted by friends and neighbors – not just people, but the plants and animals among whom they live. He wants them to learn to love where they live.

Because, when we love where we live, we stay. We settle down, make our home. No one wants to live among strangers. In contrast, if strangers become neighbors, visitors become residents. So, when we understand and know the plants, animals, insects (and yes, people) with whom we live, we are no longer outsiders, we belong. And now we work together to make our portion of the world a little better for all who live there.

And so, the students will canoe, explore Florida’s Caverns, hike the parks, and play on the beach. All the while, they will be talking, drawing, listening, and learning about everything they see.

This is my Father’s world,
And to my listening ears
All nature sings, and round me rings
The music of the spheres.
This is my Father’s world:
I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas–
His hand the wonders wrought.

This is My Father’s World, Maltie D. Babcock, 1901
Florida Caverns State Parkhttps://www.floridastateparks.org/parks-and-trails/florida-caverns-state-park

This is my Father’s world:
The birds their carols raise,
The morning light, the lily white,
Declare their Maker’s praise.
This is my Father’s world:
He shines in all that’s fair;
In the rustling grass I hear Him pass,
He speaks to me everywhere.

This is My Father’s World, Maltie D. Babcock, 1901
Florida Hiking Trail

This is my Father’s world:
O let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong,
God is the Ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world:
Why should my heart be sad?
The Lord is King: let the heavens ring!
God reigns; let earth be glad! 

This is My Father’s World, Maltie D. Babcock, 1901
St. Andrews State Park

How about you? Do you dwell among strangers or neighbors? Are you loving where you live? How are you striving to make your corner of the world a little bit better? God is the ruler yet, this is His world, will we love it?


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