La Vista Ecological Learning Center

4300 Levis Lane

Godfrey, IL 62035

© 2006 − 2019


A Ministry of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate

January 9, 2020

I recently moved residences, and now during my morning spiritual practice I find myself looking out at an old red oak tree adjacent to a bird sanctuary.  The predominant colors are gray, brown, and snowy white - except for the patterned shades of green lichen I spotted growing up the oak’s trunk. As I spent time with them, the lichen became beautiful to me in the wintry bleakness.  Soon they captu...

December 9, 2019

One year I chose to make my annual retreat during December, and someone commented that this was a poor choice as I would be missing the seasonal parties.  What I found however, was that I missed nothing!  All I had to do was look out a window or take a walk to celebrate December’s natural parties.

I observed downy, hairy, pileated, and red-bellied woodpeckers wildly flinging suet from the bird...

November 1, 2019

“The wildness of the Mystery of God cannot be contained.”  This quote from John Philip Newell’s The Book of Creation strongly captured my imagination one beautiful autumn morning; so, carrying the words in my heart, I headed out to Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary to encounter wildness and Mystery.

As I walked the trail I immediately found myself in the Presence. A lively frog jumped out of my w...

October 1, 2019

Here in the Midwest, October marks the time when timber rattlesnakes enter hibernation until the weather warms. I usually include a relevant photo with this post, so why isn’t there a timber rattlesnake in this picture of the Oblates Woods Nature Preserve? After all, it is a perfect habitat for rattlesnakes and dens – rocky outcroppings and forested bluffs - but in the many years of pulling honeys...

September 6, 2019

For many birds September’s seasonal changes mean work, especially migrators who commit to fattening up for flights of thousands of miles!  This is serious business.  They need an optimum amount of energy to make their journeys.  Ospreys, shorebirds, Caspian terns, blue-winged teal, common nighthawks and many more participate in the wonderful phenomenon of fall migration, so evident at La Vista hig...

August 1, 2019

                                                 Photo:  Lothar Bodingbauer, Unsplash

Nature’s fashion turns to berries in August.  Sumac fruits ripen to crimson.  Wild black cherries ripen, starting out red before turning black-purple. Grey dogwoods’ bluish-white berries mel...

July 1, 2019

A Midwest July brings us a variety of lovely wildflowers with great names: black-eyed Susan, butterfly milkweed, compass plant, prairie blazing star, royal catchfly, mountain mint, green milkweed, swamp milkweed, wild bergamot, and yarrow to name a few.  This means that bees, the most amazing insects of all, are having a heyday.

Among pollinators the bee has to take the prize for its ability t...

June 17, 2019

June is the month when many young animals leave their “homes” and move out into the broader Earth community.  Fledgling birds leave their nests, American toad tadpoles turn into toadlets and leave their water home; catfish young leave their nests, and bobcat kittens are born and head out on their own. It’s an exciting time with all this life burgeoning in June.  Can you feel this energy of life as...

May 3, 2019

Birdsong brings relief

to my longing.

I'm just as ecstatic as they are,

but with nothing to say!

Please, universal soul,

practice some song or something through me!



This lovely mystical poem is a wonderful one for the month of May, so full of LIFE. It is in tune with a living universe, an insight which is in harmony with the world's major spiritual traditions. For so long we regarded the universe...

April 1, 2019

April is the lovely month when native wildflowers and trees start blooming, often where they were not planted since they are NATIVES!  What does that mean? Native plants are ones that originally occur within a region as the result of natural processes rather than human intervention.  Since they evolved in a region, they are aligned with it and are more beneficial to the Earth community than non-na...

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