While walking through the woods up in the Jemez Mountains here in New Mexico, I couldn’t help but notice “Nature’s Painting!” It came in every variety of color, size, and thickness and it painted the rocks, the trees, even old stumps and logs. All this beauty from Lichen! You know, that word that you seem to never be able to pronounce: is it ‘līken’ or ‘lichen’ or ‘licken’ – any will do according to botanists so don’t fret if you get it wrong, there is no wrong. Lichen is a fungus, and here is the ‘scientific’ description: “A lichen, or lichenized fungus, is actually two organisms functioning as a single, stable unit. Lichens comprise a fungus living in a symbiotic relationship with an alga or cyanobacterium (or both in some instances). There are about 17,000 species of lichen worldwide.” WOW-17,000 ways to paint a picture in nature. Isn’t that fascinating?

On top of the artwork, lichen  also feeds many animals. After a hard winter, lichen is easy food with lots of moisture, deer and especially reindeer love it. Lichens are key players in a variety of environmental processes, such as nitrogen fixation, and biological weather. They even break down rocks and release minerals by producing certain chemicals. And, since we humans have a propensity to pollute our earth, lichens absorb pollution like a newborn fawn drinks milk from its lichen-eating mama – who’d a thought this up? We know that answer, an incredible God! So, next time you’re out in nature and the rocks show off their artwork, take a closer look, take a picture, but most of all be grateful for how the forest helps take care of us all.

Job 12:7-10
“But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.”