Blind as a Bat

A few years ago we bought a bat house to put up. My hubby has a thing about mosquitos and bats supposedly eat 1000 mosquitos per hour. I have since learned this is a myth. They eat insects (among other things) but not to this extent. The bat house is still sitting in my shed. There are too many inappropriate spots on our property to house the fascinating creatures of the night. So the idea of a mosquito-free summer evening got abandoned. However, the last week in October is #batweek, so let’s muse a little on their behalf, shall we?

Ontario Parks recommends bat houses.

There are 17-18 species of bat in Canada (depending on what site you visit). The “little brown bat” is the most common… and likely the one to roust in your attic. Who decided on such a name? Not only do you have to be the most common, did you have to be named as such? Anyway. Bats are weird-looking little things. Big ears, big noses, flappy leathery skinned armed wings, and belly buttons. The only flying mammal. Apparently, they don’t have too many predators either. The odd hawk or eagle will pick off some smaller bats but disease is one of their biggest dangers. Rabies is common, but a fungal infection is their most significant threat. Fungi love close quarters in damp dark areas… and so do bats… so you can see how quickly such threats spread among a population.

Let’s look at the whole “blind as a bat” thing. Bats, in fact, have excellent eyesight. They just happen to hunt at night, so they rely on echolocation in order to enhance their ability to catch prey in the dark.  A study carried out on bat behaviour said that “bat brains have to constantly integrate two streams of data, obtained with two different senses, to construct a single image of the world”. They typically use their eyes to find food during the daytime when it’s light and rely on their hearing and echolocation in the dark. Originally, their erratic flying patterns gave the impression that they didn’t see where they were going. We’ve now learned that the dips and dives are a result of bouncing sound waves here and there in order to navigate their environments. It’s a fun trick we used to play … jingle your car keys around a bat and see their reaction. Apparently, it sounds like bugs to them. Some species actually have advanced vision and can see Ultra Violet. Often, a bat’s vision is even greater than that of its human counterparts. Truly a unique presentation of God’s handiwork!

Mexican Freetail Bats. Flying off into the sunset. 2001-08

Aristotle once said, “For as the eyes of bats are to the blaze of day, so is the reason in our soul to the things which are by nature most evident of all.” (BlindasaBat). Which got me a-thinkin’… What can we learn from these little creatures? We recently had a few big events occur in our neighbourhood. One celebratory and one tragic. Both were far removed from God’s plan for our world. As a Jesus-follower raising a family in a pagan world, I am reminded how easily I become blinded to the darkness around me. I dip and dive around issues appearing to aimlessly snatch out tidbits of “good”. How quickly the fungus of “dark” finds its way in when we stay too hunkered down in our caves.

I need to learn to sharpen all my senses and use discernment whenever I can. Like a bat brain, I need to constantly integrate all the information that I filter through each day and be “in the world but not of it”. It’s hard. It’s tough to present only “One Way” in a politically correct world of constant clicks and echoes. Surround yourselves with others who are like-minded. Bats nest by the thousands! I’ll pray for us both that our vision is clear. Be blessed my little batty beloveds!

Fun Froggie Facts

When we were younger, a great gang of us kids would spend long summer days catching frogs in the lake near our summer home. We’d create a make-shift home in our buckets with a landing rock and some seaweed and hope they would stay forever. They didn’t. Our moms would send us back to shore with our bucket o’ frogs and make us release them to the wilderness once again at the end of the day. There aren’t too many frogs left now, pollution has stolen up most of them. They say an unspoiled wetland is teeming with frogs. And they are not just in wetlands, either. Apparently, there are approximately 5 000 species of frogs covering every habitat from wetland to desert tundra! Plus, new types of frogs are being discovered every day!

Here are some fun Froggie facts:

  • a group of frogs is called an army
  • one species of frogs does not have lungs… they breathe through their skin
  • the name Kermit has all but disappeared from the new baby list due to our muppet frog friend
  • frogs blink when they eat in order to push their food down… by using their eyeball muscles
  • the largest frog is the goliath frog weighing in at about 3 kilograms, the smallest is merely a centimeter

Obviously, this week I have been learning some fun frog facts — for some reason, I stumbled upon a fabulous frog fact and haven’t looked back since. Wanna see?

The Glass Frog. Carl C. Hansen, Smithsonian Institution

This is a Glass Frog (Centrolenella colymbiphyllum). Its skin is so translucent that you can watch its heart beating, its blood flowing and its food digesting! They used to be a bit of a mystery to the scientific community because they are only translucent on the bottom half. The top of the frog is lime green, which makes sense, as this is the same colour as the tropical leaves they hang out on. As it turns out the hue of their legs blends in even better when the sun shines down on their leafy home — the brightness shifts — adding to an increase in camouflage for these little buddies. How cool. Not to mention a see-through belly where one can watch digestion happen in live-action? Even cooler. I muse again at the handiwork of our Creator!

Javan gliding tree frog

Wanna hear another fun frog fact? I’m just a bundle of frog information this week, aren’t I? Here goes: frogs have a 3 chambered heart. One part for bringing in oxygen from the skin and two chambers for oxygenation of blood from the rest of the body. A good system as designed by a good God.

So why all this froggie fraternizing this week? Diversity. Frogs are a phenomenal example of how vast and diverse a species can be. Each is adapted to their own special gift; perfectly designed for their specific habitat or lifestyle. Should the giant Goliath frog be jealous of the glass frog’s translucency? Nope. Should the tiny tree frog crave the Hollywood lifestyle of Miss Piggy’s Kermit? Even though it’s “Not easy bein’ green?” I say again, no.

Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians that we are all individuals, yet still a part of the bigger picture of the body of Christ. We come with our own unique talents, gifts, abilities and yes, faults. Not all of us are perfect, and many of us struggle to change the bad for the better. Our churches are collections of people with differing opinions and ever-changing views. Some we like, and others we argue over. None has been more evident to me than during these last two years of vaccines, lockdowns and Covid restrictions. Still, I believe God has equipped us with a specific set of skills to be His advocate and further His kingdom to the best of our abilities. I mean, if he can make teeny see-thru frogs, why not the complex brain of a human?

We have the unique ability to rationalize. To think and reason and weigh the consequences of our behaviour. Should we really be so petty to focus on being hearts when we should be being hands or feet, or eyeballs that help swallow our food? God designed us to all be parts of the body! Fully Relying On God, Graciously, In Everything. In case you didn’t get it… that’s being a happy little: “F.R.O.G.G.I.E”

Happy Musing, my friends.

What’s in a Name?

Have you ever had to name something? Perhaps you’ve created a beautiful piece of art and it’s being prepared for gallery presentation; it needs a “name” to go on that little card. A title to say what it is about and why. Great artists and photographers always name their work. I once read a book about a girl who names all of the homes she moves into… both big and small. It gives the place significance. I guess it is more fun to live in “The Corner Cottage” than apartment #2 on Route One next to the old oak tree. Anyone name their car? “Lemons” in my case. Of course, if you are a parent, you’ve had to name your offspring. Were you like us and had a book with baby names, meanings and origins? You made a list of boy and girl names and tried out the short forms and how a first and middle name flowed together off the tip of the tongue. Did you look at initials? That kid is going to be stuck with his or her name forever… it better be good. Worthy of a monogramed towel hanging in the bathroom. Or maybe you chose a family name, passed down for generations, honoring a loved one. Oh, and never the name of that third grade kid who was a “weirdo”… I know a “blank” and can’t call my baby that!

Photo: Days with Grey

Our youngest acquired a new batch of pet rats this week. Yes, rats. That is a topic for another time and place. We are talking about naming things, here. Anyhow… Our rats have always been named after plants and flowers, so picking names can be quite fun. God’s garden gives us plenty of choices… and we’ve had fun attaching traits and characteristics to their names. I’m sure we will be posting on social media this week… so check them out later, if you are interested!

So, what’s in a name? In grade school I did a whole project on that quote from Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliette”. I got a pretty good mark, too. I guess I have been musing about such things for a while. As you know, words and their meanings are captivating to me, so names naturally fall into that category. Special “words” if you may. I tried searching “How many names does God have?” and didn’t get very accurate results. The short answer? “Lots”. God has lots of names. Each significant based on certain traits and characteristics. I guess that’s what makes it so special. Our Heavenly Father could be so many things for so many people: Father, Comforter, Protector, Creator, King… the list goes on and on. Listen to people pray… it’s a good hint about how they view God. How do they address Him when they speak to Him? There is a good list (here), although I don’t think even 950 names are exhaustive. But it is a significant start, if you may be interested in further study. Certainly fascinating.

Our little brains can’t begin to comprehend all the attributes of God, let alone name them. Names are really only a snapshot of something. And God is much much bigger than our tiny understanding of the person we call “God”. Would you agree? Or do you find it easy to label Him? Perhaps based on your needs, you know that God is definitely your “Abba” or your “protector”. Either way, Holy and awesome truly are His name. (Psalm 111). And no matter what your name is, He cares for you and loves you. And that’s the bottom line. Be blessed, my friends!