Thursday, July 17, 2008

WALKING BUDDIES: Part 3 - The Zoo Keeper - July 12, 2008

Noah was a righteous man, blameless
among the people of his time, and he walked with God.
Genesis 6:9 NIV

My daughter, Beth, has an interesting job this summer serving as an educator in the summer camp program hosted by the San Diego Zoo. She is working with second graders, specializing in the area of birds. Her training has involved behind the scene close encounters with zoo residents. One day she called home to tell me that she’d been kissed by a sea lion—not the most pleasant experience, I’m told.

The passion for animals runs deep in my side of the family. My mom grew up with cats and, therefore, so did I, the bulk of whom I lugged home and into the family. Most memorable was golden-eyed Goldie, a “plump” alley cat, who surprisingly graced us with five adorable blue-eyed, wide-eyed kittens (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and Creampuff).

My husband, Rex, and I raised our kids with dogs—a good choice as both Beth and Matt developed allergies to cats. Over the years, our zoological menagerie also included gerbils, bunnies, parakeets, zebra finches, box turtles, tropical fish, and a guinea pig. Oops! I almost forgot the ant farm. There was also a close call with lizards when Beth went to the pet store to replace a pair of finches (who had died; may they rest in peace) and returned with two lizards (who were returned to the shop ASAP by a nasty mother).

So, I’d say, it goes without saying, that one of our families’ favorite Bible stories was the ever popular “Noah’s Ark.” Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be the most famous zookeeper of all time?

According to the San Diego Zoo website, animal keeper jobs are very popular and the field is highly competitive. So what sets the modern day Noah apart from all the keeper-wanna-bes?

· Education (college degree in a life science field preferable)
· Experience with animals
· Good work ethic
· A positive attitude about self and work
· Good communication skills with both people and animals,
· The ability to be innovative enough to find solutions to keep animals stimulated
· A positive attitude
· The right personality
· A realistic view of the job: “Animals get sick, they bite, they die, they hurt each other, and they can hurt you, too. And the work can be hard, dirty, and tedious.”

So, how many of you are ready to sign on as Noah’s helpers? Can you imagine being Noah and saying, “Yes, Lord,” to a job that involved building an architectural wonder large enough to house an immense floating zoo? Granted, God blessed Noah’s efforts, but think of what a nut-cake Noah must have looked like to his neighbors?

Who in their right mind would be willing to shut themselves up in a boat with two of every kind of creature—with a few family members to boot—and spend forty dreary, muggy, rainy days feeding and cleaning up after (pewee!) cooped up, anxious, irritable critters? A man who walks with God, that’s who.

While we aren’t all called to be animal keepers, we can still follow in Noah’s footsteps. He was obedient, trustworthy, hard working, and a man of strong faith and conviction. He must have been pretty laid back, thick-skinned, and blessed with a remarkable sense of humor, as well.
While our forte may not involve caring for critters, we all play roles in life in which we are “keepers.” We keep each other in our prayers, we keep confidences and vows. When life is hard, we keep on keeping-on. We are peace keepers in our families and at work. We’re taught to keep off the grass, keep out of trouble, and keep our mouths shut (when chewing, or on the off chance of saying something we shouldn’t). We KISS (Keep it simple, stupid!).

Most importantly, many of us are also keepers of children, as parent, grandparents, guardians, Sunday school teachers, scout leaders, advocates, coaches…

And, yes, some of us even keep stray felines.

How will you follow Noah’s example and be a better “keeper” this week?

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