Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Biology Class

Most of my formative years happened in the obnoxiously distinctive decade known as "the 80s". It is no surprise then that my wardrobe choices and fads over the years have been less than timeless (though I have held the line with the fall flannel shirt pretty courageously. RIP Kurt).

One of my more prideful (at the time) and humorous (now) clothing collections was frog shirts. No, not those Johnny-come-lately Peace Frog shirts, the Earth Day type frog shirt and my personal favorite, the poison arrow frog shirt! I loved it when kids would want to pick out which little rainbow frog they liked best, or when girls would stop and read the dire environmental warning silk-screened gloriously across my scrawny chest about frogs being an indicator species for unhealthy changes in nature. . .

I don't know when the obsession started with frogs, but I know for sure when it didn't start:
Biology Class. We had a legend in our school named Mrs. Grove, a grizzly bear crossed with a tsunami, a hungry hawk perched on high and we the field mice, a cranky grim reaper wearing a six foot grandma disguise. . .who sometimes masqueraded as a sane person who knew some things about nature and yelled them at pubescent bags of bones trembling like mugs of coffee sitting on an unbalanced washing machine. . .

But enough about those lingering memories (nightmares), we are talking about frogs.

Biology Class is where you got to dissect animals for the first time. Most of us started with the earthworm, or maybe a cow's eyeball (What are we, witches?), but wherever we started, we almost always went the way of that rite of student passage known as frog dissection. I've heard of "really cool" schools who provide baby pigs or even sharks to dissect, but I think coolness can be a relative term sometimes (I'm looking at you skinny jeans. I know you're an easy target these days, but wow, I feel less shame about my John Stockton shorts than you'll feel 15 years from now with those pants. Trust me. Children of the 80s have a good feel for these things.)

Remember the smell of pasty green frogs in the air? The precarious feel of the over-sized safety goggles on your face? The tiny shake in your hands holding the scalpel as it hovered over the belly of the worshiping amphibian?

A few hesitant slices later, a few sticks of pins, and you were staring at the circuitry of life. Your teacher (or Force of Nature in my case) was asking you (or growling spit-filled verbiage in my case) to identify the parts of frog anatomy. There's his little frog belly where all those flies go, and his little bowels (which, if nicked by a blade clumsily wielded led to other mysteries of life), and the powerful muscles where hops come from. . .

I definitely did not fall in love with frogs (or their Tshirts) in Biology class.

I loved their otherwordly eyes, their vivid greens, their smooth and comical underwater swimming strokes you could only see on a sunlit day in a happy creek after you'd startled one off the bank with your noisy approach. . .

I may have learned what the insides of a frog looked like in that class known as Biology, but I learned what Frogness was from delighting in frogs. You have to kill an animal to dissect it.

If you've made it this far (long blog post, I know), here's my heart:

Life in Christ is a live frog and if you start messing too much with the insides, trying to define exactly what it means to be a frog, you kill it. This is not a statement against systematic knowledge, but it is a compassionate plea to smell the air for embalming fluid when you are seeking knowledge from others for what life in Christ is like. . .

My growing suspicion is that God is more pleased by our amazement in the thrilling leaps of  frogs though we do not know how or why than He is in us being able to accurately express the technical terms for amphibian guts. . .

What is Biology again? The study of life.

Welcome to class.

Matt O.

1 comment:

  1. So true!! I've been going through Michael Yaconelli's book 'Dangerous Wonder: the Adventure of Childlike Faith' with a group of leaders that have a heart for students. These conversations has been so fun and refreshing :)
    There is never that invisible rope inside the discussion that is constantly tugged and yanked as the comments rally back and forth.