During my first paddling adventure at Silver Springs I was amazed at the variety of wildlife viewable from my kayak. Many species of birds could be seen along the jungle like shoreline as well as flying across the beautiful, crystal clear water. And there were numerous alligators and turtles basking in the sun on a log or downed tree. But the animal I found most fascinating was the monkey. Watching them scrambling around on the ground or jumping from limb to limb in the tree tops was totally unexpected. I couldn’t wait to get a nice photo of a monkey playing in the wild! But it never happened. I diligently looked as I paddled the river but, although other kayakers kept saying there was a large group just around the next corner, I never found them.
So, as we launched again this year for another float down this beautiful river, once again I was hoping for that one special opportunity for a great photo of a monkey. An hour or so into our journey we spotted a couple of monkeys playing in a thicket of trees close to the water. But no good photo opportunities. Then there were several more playing about 20 yards into the woods but again no good photo available. Another hour passes and I continue to see birds, alligators, turtles and even a large manatee, but no monkey. Suddenly, there it is, the perfect shot! A beautiful small monkey sitting on a large log just a few feet from the water’s edge. As I slowly paddled closer and began fumbling around with my iPhone camera, safely enclosed in its water proof case, my perfect photo jumped off the log and ran into the woods. I watched as he began playing with some friends just out of range. I sat for several minutes and waited, hoping for his return, but it didn’t happen.
Over the years I’ve learned there are situations I can’t control. There are problems I can’t fix. There are desires I can’t fulfill regardless of how hard I try. During these times I’ve learned to rely on God’s help. Some people think I’m crazy while others have no doubt. But years of experience has taught me there is no prayer too trivial if it’s not contrary to God’s will or in conflict with my best interest. Just as I take delight in doing fun things for my grandkids, I believe God takes delight in doing the same for me. So, as I have often done in the past when I needed help, I prayed, “Lord, I would really like to get a good picture of a monkey.” And then I began to wait, and wait, and wait. Nothing. Now I’m thinking I need to change locations and begin to paddle back away from the bank. I notice a downed tree and think what a nice place that would be for a picture. Then I notice movement in some brush behind a tree. As I eagerly watch I see a monkey moving around and slowly coming my way. He sees me and stops. Starts again, looks at me and stops again. I’m getting a little nervous. He walks behind a tree and climbs upon the downed tree in front of me. I get my camera ready. He walks out on the downed tree and stops right in front of me and poses for a photo. I oblige him and snap a couple of photos. He looks the other way and I snap a couple more. He then turns around and poses one more time. Snap-Snap-Snap. He casually walks back, jumps down to the ground and walks off into the woods. Out of sight. After saying, “Thank you Lord!!!” I paddle back out into the river and start paddling hard to catch up with my group which by now is way ahead of me. No one else in my group saw this monkey. But they were amazed, as was I, with the photos he made possible. I refer to this kind of incident as a “God Thing”. And I refer to the monkey as, you guessed it, “God’s Monkey”.