Sunday, August 02, 2015

Nature's 'Free' Gifts (Peter Black)

It’s wonderful that nature offers so many free gifts, for instance, the rapturous sight of a cardinal’s scarlet plumage and the enchanting musicality of his sweet song to his mate. Necessary to our experiencing and enjoying such things are the faculties of vision and hearing and the mental capability of appreciating them.

Too numerous to mention, even in a single day, nature’s free gifts surround us and enrich our lives. Several weeks ago my wife and I set out on what we expected to be a brief walk along a local trail. Several days before, we noted that the wayside brambles were producing a fair crop of berries, although most were far from ripe – green, with some turning red.
However, nature surprised us during that next walk through the glen, for we spotted a patch just ripe for the picking. We cut our walk even shorter and took to picking the gleaming black morsels, instead. They’d ripened rapidly and weren’t yet picked over by other blackberry lovers. May had a plastic bag handy, so we got busy. I felt like a kid again and recalled the bountiful wild blackberry-picking days of my childhood in England and Scotland.
Wild berries are nature’s free gifts. Free to the birds and free to those of us who take the time to pick them. But were they really free? We paid the price in berry-stained clothes, mosquito bites and thorn pricks, and scratched-up legs, because we hadn’t dressed suitably for the job, neither had we applied insect repellent.
That experience kick-started me into ruminating about nature’s free gifts in the wider sense – the air we breathe, the water we drink, among countless others. Although humans can produce modest amounts of water through several chemical processes (such as through the combustion of hydrocarbons and condensing the moisture generated) we don’t actually create this essential element.
However, we are realizing more and more that there’s a price to be exacted for failing to take steps to protect nature's benefits from the environmental pollution that we’ve generated. It also costs to protect ourselves directly from pollution and its consequences.
For example, nature’s bountiful food from river, lake and sea has been there for the human taking for millennia. But, as we now know, large-scale inadequately managed resources and over-fishing have reduced stocks in many areas. Also, chemical contamination from industrial effluent discharged into sewers and rivers and the toxins generated from human activity, contained in soil run-off, eventually find their way into the flesh of fish and marine life. These can potentially cause sickness or disease in both animals and humans who consume them.
We did nothing to create the great reservoirs of crude oil underneath the ocean bed or
Public Domain
underground, yet its extraction and refining incurs great cost. Gold, silver and gem mining are costly businesses, too, although they offer great rewards.

At the other end of the scale, in the classical song, the boy who plucked the pretty “rose so red, in the forest growing,” paid a price with a painful prick and a bloody finger. Enough said, suffice it to say that nature’s free gifts do have a cost at one point or another.

God paid the price of providing the remedy for the pollution of our sins and shortcomings, in giving His Son Jesus Christ up to the horrific death on the cross of crucifixion. While many people scoff at this, there are yet others who, embracing the message and receiving Jesus as Lord and Saviour, enjoy a restored relationship with the Almighty.

I’m grateful for such a relationship with God and the profound sense of belonging, with grace and peace, that I’ve received. These are His free love gifts to us. Why would anyone refuse them?

The above piece was adapted from an article in Black's weekly column, P-Pep! published in The Watford Guide-Advocate, July 16, 2015.
Peter's second book is a compilation of inspirational articles on a variety of themes from his weekly column. These are interspersed with brief expressions intended to encourage. Ebook edition is now available through Amazon.
ISBN: 978-0-9920074-2-3 (Angel Hope Publishing)
Peter's first book: “Parables from the Pond” – a children's / family book (mildly educational, inspirational in orientation, character reinforcing). Finalist – Word Alive Press. ISBN: 1897373-21-X. The book has found a place in various settings with a readership ranging from kids to senior adults.
Black's inspirational column, P-Pep! appears weekly in The Guide-Advocate (of Southwestern Ontario). His articles have appeared in 50 Plus Contact and testimony, and several newspapers in Ontario.


Eleanor Shepherd said...

Thanks, Peter. You have given us some thoughts worth pondering about the cost of nature's free gifts and a further appreciation of our greatest gift. Blessings,

Peter Black said...

Thanks Eleanor. I appreciate your encouragement. Incidentally, several weeks ago I had a two-week pulpit supply stint for a pastor friend who was on holiday. Another two week-stint is scheduled this month at another church.
Several times, when preparing for services and juggling schedules, I thought of you and your ongoing pastoral responsibilities.
Blessings to you with grace and peace. ~~+~~

Susan Harris said...

A great reminder that "free" is not actually "free". There's often an indirect price, a hidden price, an overlooked price, a "I-know-it-cost-something-but-I-don't-care" price. Timely word.

Peter Black said...

Yes, Susan - so true. I don't use K-cups very often, but when I do, I tend to have that mea culpa pang about adding to the pollution problem because, as far as I'm aware, there's no program in our area for recycling them. Although the scope of recycling is growing I'm rather dismayed that government seems unwilling to require or ensure that such programs are in place across jurisdictions before products are release en mass to the public. Yes, it would cost and drive up retail prices; however, we all ultimately bear the cost one way or another. ~~+~~

Susan Harris said...

I used K cups only at one of my jobs and I wasn't aware of the inability to be recycled then. We have both an excellent recycling program and landfill program in our city and in surrounding small towns. However, I feel that the associated pollution problems of K-cups ought to be the responsibility of the company, and not the government. Government though, could make disposal an essential part of approving new products. I don't think it is fair for companies to create products that they are not willing to lend a hand in its disposal and recycling. Companies make tons of money and their social responsibility should be translated in financial terms as well. I no longer consume K cups but I may be guilty of using other products that have similar limitations, albeit I may be ignorant of what those products are. Yes, there's a price, even what we eat and how it plays out in our health.

fudge4ever said...

We are so blessed and it's good to be reminded of all these beautiful and free gifts that the Lord has given to all of us. He is so gracious, especially in providing the free gift of salvation!
Pam Mytroen

Peter Black said...

I agree with you Susan. And you've stated well and more fully what are also my sentiments on both sides of where the responsibility should lie. Incidentally, I recall reading a while back that Keurig are working on a more environmentally friendly version of the K-Cup.

And Pam, in the midst of the growing concerns for the environment and the longterm effects of pollution etc., etc., it's refreshing and healthful for us to lift our hearts in gratitude for, as you say, "these beautiful and free gifts the Lord has given us . . . especially . . . the free gift of salvation!" ~~+~~

Glynis said...

Mmmm. Blackberries. I remember them well and yes, like you, I remember the downside. Scratches, the prickles, the stains on the clothing (and chin). But the blackberry jam was the ultimate prize.

You are so right, Peter, about how we are surrounded by the free gifts yet we abuse it (them) so often in our activity of daily living. I am guilty of weighing convenience with contributing to the world's mess (paper plates verses the ones we have to wash, for instance). I think our generation with the advent of plastic, was the worst. Now we are paying the price. So much for our responsibility of caring for creation. We've got some serious work to do.

But thank goodness with Christ we can know without a doubt, that His sacrifice is supreme and in Him we remain loved no matter what. . .great thoughtful post, Peter. Thanks.

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