Yesterday, the students and professors of the Global Honors Program ventured out on a trek through the nearby Atlantic Rain Forest. It was a breath of fresh air to take a momentary break from the concrete and pavement of Sao Paulo City and experience the simplicity and wonder of Creation. As we hiked the winding and twisting trails through dense greenery and canopies, we reveled in the beauty all around us and were tuned-in to notice the tiniest signs of activity in the forest. Rather than jaguars, monkeys, or even the elusive sloth, however, the busiest and most pervasive personalities seemed to come from the smallest and most unlikely of creatures.
As we paused at a promontory overlooking the lake, several fascinating little residents of the forest crossed our path: a colony of Leaf-Cutter ants was busy at work transporting their precious goods back to the nest! We watched, mesmerized, as the industrious little powerhouses went about their business, oblivious to prying eyes. Our tour guide explained that the ants use the leaves they collect to form a food upon which they cultivate a special type of fungus. The fungus, in turn, becomes a food source for the ants. These amazing little creatures are so incredibly and precisely equipped to function in their environment!
As we continued on our tour, we passed more tiny forest residents busy at work: small colonies of caterpillars clinging to the trees, flying and buzzing insects of all types, and, to our amazement and consternation, giant spiders suspended mid-air on their webs! (our group was nearly clotheslined as we attempted to walk down the trail!). Thankfully, we were able to observe this intimidating predator from a distance!
Although we did manage to see a few colorful birds from afar, the insects of the Atlantic Rain Forest seemed to be the most ubiquitous creatures on the move yesterday. At the end of the tour, our guide asked each of us to think of one word to describe our experience in the forest. Many of the responses fell along the lines of peaceful, awe-inspiring, or humbling. After listening, our tour guide then asked us to take that feeling of wonder and gratitude for nature and channel it into an appreciation for the intelligence of each wondrous creature.
As I contemplated our experience hiking through the Atlantic Rain Forest, I couldn’t help but think that we would be amiss if we did not also channel our praise to the Intelligent Being behind the creation of each wondrous creature. I am so thankful for the ability to enjoy the beauty and splendor of the outdoors, but I am left speechless when I consider the awesome genius and wisdom of the Creator who masterminded this grand playground for our enjoyment and stewardship. If the complexity of even the smallest of creatures has the ability to blow our minds, what sort of all-transcendent, infinitely-powerful God is He Whom we serve — the One Who created All Creatures Great and Small?