The variety of wildlife that shows up on our Chapel grounds is delightful, entertaining, and educating. Throughout the year, you are likely to encounter bears, deer, mice, dogs, cats, foxes, coyotes, an assortment of birds, and of course a plethora of squirrels. When we celebrate the blessing of the animals, other creatures like horses, snakes, crabs, snails, and hedgehogs also tend to show up.

The animals that inhabit this part of the Rocky Mountains and Snowmass Village are a welcome distraction that remind me there is always another world and varying perspectives of things happening at any given moment.

Over the last several weeks, I’ve been enthralled by a small squirrel. He or she is a typical looking squirrel. Grayish in color with a big bushy tail. What anyone coming to the Chapel grounds has noticed is that there is an increasingly large pile of pine cones near the Chapel entry doors. Day by day the number of pine cones grows by the dozens. If you sit or stand around long enough, you quickly will discover the identity of the culprit, a squirrel.

For a few moments, the squirrel scurries away. Several minutes later he or she returns, dropping a pine cone adding to the pile. This continues hours on end. The commitment to this task is impressive. I assume he or she is preparing for a long lasting food supply and the coming winter.

As we move into the fall season along with the daily and week to week uncertainty facing us all, the actions of our squirrel friend have prompted me to ponder and to ask some questions of myself.

Questions such as, “Where am I investing most of my energy? Am I collecting thoughts, feelings and ideas worth holding onto or letting go? Is the effort I am putting forth useful for something that truly matters or that will make a difference down the road?

We all make preparations for a variety of things. What am I preparing for? What groundwork am I laying out? When life is bumpy and challenging like a cold winter season, will I have the right foundations in place for resilience to occur? (similar to Jesus’ story of building a house on sand or rock, i.e., Matthew 7:24-27). Am I intentional and organized enough in my daily life? Am I aware of why I do what I do?”

As I think about our campus squirrel, I once again realize how much we can learn by simply stopping, listening, looking, and pondering nature, God’s creation, and all it has to teach us. God’s love, guidance, and wisdom often comes to us through God’s tangible created world, a world very much worth paying attention to.

I invite us all as we move into the month of September to spend time outside, in a spirit of quiet and prayer, and see what our ever present God might have to say to us at this time in our lives. The rhythms of God’s created order is incredibly instructive to each of us, especially when so much seems out of sorts. Visible expressions of Jesus’ words and God’s love and grace surround us. Look and see.

PS – I wonder if our Chapel squirrel is going nuts for Jesus? Sorry, I could not resist.