Lessons From Nature
Self-Sacrificing Ants
Below the slopes of Pikes Peak in Colorado, not far from the city of Manitou Springs, is a park that has been named the Garden Of The Gods. Here numerous huge slabs of red sandstone have been weathered into weird shapes. These unique rock formations are in a dry, arid region, just the right environment for a fantastic group of insects who live in underground galleries hidden among the sandy ridges.

The honey ants, probably the most self-sacrificing creatures known, dwell in the darkness. Each night during the summer season they leave their nests en masse and go to the nearby shink oak, a shrubby tree, where they gather liquid honeydew from the swellings on the oak twigs.

But where can they store the precious honeydew they have gathered? Ants cannot make wax for honeycombs as bees do. Therefore, certain worker ants offer themselves to become living casks. They drink this honeydew until their abdomens become so distended that they can no longer move about. Hanging on to the ceiling of their underground cellars, they spend months, even years, holding on just to furnish food for the colony. When honeydew is no longer available outside, the hungry ants go to the living storage tanks and drink from them. Hanging almost motionless, their abdomens eight to ten times the normal size, these storage-tank ants live in eternal darkness, receiving only to give.

(E & J Lantry, Stop, Look and Listen, p.77)

Caring Geese
Few sights evoke as much attention, and awe, as that of a large flock of Canadian geese winging their way in V-formation to the north or south. They speak of the changing seasons, and also of the value of teamwork.

What many don't know is that when a goose gets sick, or perhaps is wounded by a shot, it never falls from the formation by itself. Two other geese also fall out of the formation with it and follow the ailing goose down to the ground. One of them is very often the mate of the wounded bird, since geese mate for life and are extremely loyal to their mates. Once on the ground, the healthy birds help protect and care for him as much as possible, even to the point of throwing themselves between the weakened bird and possible predators. They stay with him until he is either able to fly, or until he is dead. Then, and only then, do they launch out on their own. In most cases, they wait for another group of geese to fly overhead and they join them, adding to the safety and flying efficiency of their numbers.

(God's Little Devotional Book, p.17)

The Optimistic Frog
Some people complain because God put thorns on roses, while others praise Him for putting roses on thorns . . .

The pessimist will see a glass filled to the half-way mark as being half empty, the optimist will see it as being half full, the optimistically creative person will see it as a vase for a rosebud, the optimistic pragmatist as a means of quenching thirst, and the optimistic priest as water to bless for baptism.

So let us consider the benefits of choosing the optimistic route as illustrated in the following poem.

Two frogs fell into a deep cream bowl,
One was an optimistic soul;
But the other took the gloomy view,
"I shall drown," he cried, "and so will you."
So with a last despairing cry,
He closed his eyes and said, "Good-bye."
But the other frog, with a merry grin,
Said, "I can't get out, but I won't give in!
I'll swim around till my strength is spent,
For having tried, I'll die content."
Bravely he swam until it would seem
His struggles began to churn the cream.
On the top of the butter at last he stopped
And out of the bowl he happily hopped.
What is the moral? It's easily found.
If you can't get out - keep swimming around!

(From God's Little Devotional Book, pp.42-43)

The Pelorus Porpoise
Sailors in the 1800's dreaded the dangerous French pass off the coast of New Zealand. Here the Pelorus Sound was full of treacherous currents and jagged rocks that were concealed just below the surface. Many ships were lost in this region.

One stormy morning in 1871 the Brindle, sailing from Boston to Sydney, was having trouble going through the pass when a porpoise leaped out of the water. The men wanted to harpoon it, but the captain's wife suggested they follow it. Experienced sailors, these men didn't want to listen to a woman, let alone follow a marine animal. Still, they knew that the porpoise had spent his lifetime in these treacherous waters. For years he had plied swiftly through the open channels, avoiding the rocks. Yes, he knew a lot more about Pelorus Sound than they did. So putting aside selfish pride and human judgment, they humbly followed him and made a safe passage!

From that time on Pelorus Jack, as they called him stayed around the Sound. Sailors watched for him. As soon as the porpoise saw a ship he leaped out of the water and was always greeted by a cheer from those on board. For the forty years from 1871 to 1912 Pelorus Jack guided ships through those dangerous waters, saving thousands of lives.

During those years only one ship struck the jagged rocks and sank. Why? In 1903 a drunken passenger shot at the porpoise, nicking him. For two weeks the animal disappeared, and then he returned to work. He refused to guide that one ship, which soon struck the rocks and was lost.

(Eileen E. and Jay H. Lantry, Stop Look and Listen, p.17)

The Lifesaver Dolphin
Yvonne Vladislavich and seven others were traveling by boat in the water off the East African coast in September 1972. They had planned to reach their destination in three hours, but the inboard motor suddenly stopped. When the outboard motor failed to start, they tried to radio a friend for help, but the batteries were wet.

The height of the waves increased to six meters. Those who weren't too seasick bailed water constantly. All day through the storm and rain they struggled.

About three-thirty the next morning three huge waves, each more than nine meters high, came one after another. The boat, already half-full of water, began to go down. Get out, we are sinking, someone yelled. The third wave sank the boat. When, after five hours in the water, the first person died, Yvonne, a strong swimmer, decided to go for help. Her feet, cut when the boat sank, were bleeding constantly. After about six and a half hours of swimming she noticed black shadows around her - sharks! "O God," Yvonne prayed, :"if I must die, let it be quick. Not an arm and then a leg. May they do it quickly."

Suddenly two fins glided toward her. Thinking this was the end, Yvonne watched with amazement as a dolphin bumped the oncoming shark and drove it away. Later she fainted, but became conscious as she was lifted out of the water on the nose of a dolphin.

Two dolphins guarded her for twelve and a half hours until she was picked up by a passing ship sixty-seven kilometers away from the rest of the group.

No Place Like Home
From new puppy until he was 6 months old, Clancy, a collie, had lived with a family in Buffalo, New York. Buffalo was home - the only home he had ever known - and the members of that family were the only people he knew as friends.

But Clancy's family decided to move to Michigan City, Indiana. They decided that they couldn't take Clancy and that, since he was so young, he would adapt to another family in the neighborhood. So the only family Clancy had known moved away, leaving him with a neighbour in Buffalo. The neighborhood was right, but somehow it didn't seem like home without his family.

So, without warning, Clancy left the new family, and went in search of his own family. Of course, he couldn't know where to look, but that is the touching part of the story.

Six months later he scratched at the door of his family in Michigan City, Indiana - over 600 kilometers distant from Buffalo. He was very thin, and his paws were badly worn, but when he was let into the house by an incredulous family, he spied the familiar throw rug that had served as his bed. He immediately went over to it, curled up, and with a great sigh, dozed off. Whether it was Michigan City or Buffalo made no difference. This was home!

The above is a true story from The Strange World of Animals and Pets by Vincent and Margaret Gaddis.

The Dog Who Never Gave Up
Shep and Mr McMahon were inseparable. The good-natured collie dog seemed to understand McMahon, who talked to him as if he were human. As usual, he was by his master's side when McMahon fell down a flight of stairs, seriously injuring his head.

Shep, always close to his master, squeezed into the ambulance, whining encouragement while licking his bloody face. As they carried the man into the hospital, Shep pressed close to the stretcher, touching his master's hand with his nose. Down the long corridor they went to the waiting elevator that was to take McMahon to the operating room.

"Sorry, old boy" said the attendant in white, as Shep pushed into the elevator, "no dogs allowed".

McMahon, even in his pain, saw the sadness in Shep's eyes. Leaning down, he stroked his head and whispered, "It's all right, old pal. I'll be back soon. You wait for me here."

The expression in Shep's eyes turned to trust. Many times he had waited at the entrance of a building where dogs can't go. So Shep settled down by the elevator patiently awaiting his master's return.

But McMahon didn't come back. He died the next day and the undertaker carried him out through another exit. Since his master had never failed him, Shep knew he must obey his master's last command, "Wait for me here." Each time the elevator reached that floor, Shep was ready to spring forward to meet him, listening for the voice he loved.

For more than ten years Shep waited at that elevator door. Doctors, nurses and visitors brought him food, water and a soft mat, but his brown eyes kept glancing at the elevator.

Occasionally they coaxed him outside for exercise and fresh air, but he was eager to return to his post. His greatest happiness was in obeying his dead master. Shep finally died by the elevator door.

Only a dog, yes, but where could you find truer loyalty, obedience and devotion?

Stop, Look and Listen, Eileen E & Jay H Lantry

Life is an echo
A son and his father were walking in the mountains. Suddenly, his son falls, hurts himself and screams: "AAAhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!

To his suprise, he hears the voice repeating, somewhere in the mountain: "AAAhhhhhhhhhhh!!!"

Curious, he yells: "Who are You?"

He receives the answer: "Who are you?"

Angered at the response, he screams: "Coward!"

He receives the answer: "Coward!"

He looks to his father and asks: "What's going on?"

The father smiles and says: "My son, pay attention." And then he screams to the mountain: "I admire you!"

The voice answers: "I admire you!"

Again the man screams: "You are a champion!"

The voice answers: "You are a champion!"

The boy is surprised, but does not understand. Then the father explains: People call this an echo, but really this is life. It gives you back everything you say or do. Our life is simply a reflection of our actions. If you want more love in the world, create more love in your heart. If you want more competence in your team, improve your competence. This relationship applies to everything, in all aspects of life; life will give you back everything you have given to it.