When people ask me how messy the penguins are, I tell them to think about what their car looks like after they’ve parked it under a tree for a few hours. Then imagine that the birds sitting in that tree were the size of house cats. And there are 22 of them. Sitting above your car all night long. Got that image? That’s what I get to see on the floor of the penguin den every single morning.
The easiest and most effective way to clean up that mess is with a pressure washer. With its gas engine and high pressure water, our pressure washer is very loud. Especially when used in the relatively tight space of the penguin exhibit. To preserve my ears, I wear a set of earmuff style hearing protectors while I’m cleaning. A few years ago, my boss said that we had a little money left in the budget for the penguin exhibit and she asked if I would make a list of needs and wants for the exhibit. After listing a couple of needs like new tools, I started the list of wants. On the top of the list was a set of hearing protectors with a built in radio and a plug for an MP3 player cord. With the regular hearing protectors on, I can’t hear anything other than a muffled engine noise, so I thought it would be nice to be able to listen to music instead. There was enough money left over after the needs were met that my boss approved the purchase of the radio earmuffs. Now, not only do I get the satisfaction of deep cleaning the penguin den floor, but also the joy of accompanying my work with music. Sometimes, it is like a pleasant break from reality and the outside world.
Often, I use those headphones to listen to podcasts, one of which comes from a Christian radio show. During one episode, the host was talking to the singer Plumb and she said something that caught my attention. “God doesn’t need us to do His work. He wants us.” God could have made the universe without humans and had a wonderful creation, but He wanted to make us. He could send an angel to talk to every single person about salvation, but He told us to do it. God could give a voice to every rock and tree on Earth, but He wants us to praise Him.
As I zookeeper, I am happy when I get the new scrub brush I needed to replace a broken one, but I’m even more excited to get something that is a luxury rather than a necessity. It makes me feel special to be in the “Wants” section of God’s list.
1 John 4:10 “Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”