“He destined us in love to be his sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.” (Ephesians 1:5)
The first chapter of the letter of St. Paul to the Ephesians has been described as the pinnacle of revelation to the church, as it contains a wondrous promise and hope for believers to enjoy God’s fatherly love in heaven. One certain phrase recurs several times, “to the praise of his glory.”
I was thinking about that phrase. I thought of all the wonders of creation and all the beauties of nature that I’ve seen on family trips to our country’s national parks and on TV. Then I had to laugh. I thought of our trip last October to the Florida everglades, and seeing manatees in the St. John River. Manatees are wonderful animals. Peaceful and shy, they love the warm waters of the St. John, fed by natural hot springs. They also love to eat. We watched a family group slowly munching sea lettuce. They didn’t move much- all you could see were two big humps for the adults and a little gray hump for the baby manatee and three pairs of lips appearing above water and then a clump of sea lettuce disappearing below. They are so big that even alligators don’t bother them. However because they don’t hurry, their biggest threat is getting mowed over by speedboats. Watching these gentle, slow moving giants, I thought of Peter. Surely if a manatee could magically take human form, it would behave a lot like Peter. Some people are tigers, some dragons, some rabbits, but Peter is definitely a manatee.
Then it hit me. I love manatees. Most people I know love manatees. If not, I’d say there’s possibly something wrong with you. Because they are simply so lovable. Like creation in general, beautiful just because it is. “For the praise of his glory.” Nature doesn’t have to justify itself- manatees don’t have to explain why they should exist or why they are valuable or worth anything. It’s self evident. “For the praise of his glory.” Just like people. Just like my Peter.