Coming from Texas, the arctic blast that hit the Midwest 2 weeks ago froze me to the bone! We are in the heart of the winter months, and by this time our bodies have probably changed shape at least a little bit. We may have made a New Year’s Resolution, but we haven’t had time to do much yet. All of us officially have changed into our snuggly winter bodies.
Okay, okay, so it’s not that dramatic. It’s not like we’re shapeshifting. For most people it’s just a pound or two here or there. There’s no super dramatic change. It was brought to my attention, though, that one animal makes a significant change in winter months. It all started with a misleading social media post. (As many good stories do)
A friend shared this post with me. My first thought, “That’s super cool!” My next thought was, “I grew up surrounded by a bunch of hunters, many who traveled for big game hunting like reindeer. How had none of them said anything about this?” So I did some searching and found out that the statement is true, but the picture is false.
Reindeer DO change their eyes during the winter months, unfortunately that change of color is in the BACK of the eye and so we cannot see it just by looking a reindeer in the face. Here is a reindeer eye that has been bisected from top to bottom. You can see the blue color at the back of the eye.
Here is a comparison of what the back of the reindeer’s eyes looks like at different parts of the year.
The bit that changes color is the tapetum lucidum—a mirrored layer that sits behind the retina. It helps animals to see in dim conditions by reflecting any light that passes through the retina back onto it, allowing its light-detecting cells a second chance to intercept the stray photons.
The tapetum is the reason why mammal eyes often glow yellow if you photograph them at night—you’re seeing the camera’s flash reflecting back at you. Most mammals have a golden tapetum, and so do the reindeer in summer. So why does this layer become blue in winter?
In dark conditions, muscles in your irises contract to dilate your pupils and allow more light into your eyes. When it’s bright again, the irises widen and the pupils shrink. The same thing happens in reindeer, but the never-ending dark Arctic winter forces their pupils dilate for months rather than hours. Over time, this constant effort blocks the small vessels that drain fluid out of the eyes. Pressure builds up inside the eyeballs, and they start to swell. This swelling makes the collagen of the tapetum more tightly packed, and this spacing affects the type of light they reflect. When squeezed together, they reflect blue wavelengths.
So, as reindeer spend months in darkness, their permanently dilated pupils lead to swollen eyes, compressing the fibers in their tapetum and changing the color of light they reflect. Their eyes change to better receive light during the winter. This made me wonder, what could I do to better receive God? Just like light, He is all around us, but how much of Him are we choosing to let in? When the reindeer are in winter and they don’t think they’re getting enough light, their bodies make a change. It is the beginning of the year and everyone around you is deciding to make some change, what change will you make? Will you make one to lose weight or clean your house more, or will you make a change that benefits your soul? Will you make a change that allows you to listen to God more, to let Him in more?
Currently I feel like I am always on the go. I have a small child to take care of, a husband to share a marriage with, and a new house/yard that needs a lot of work. All three of these take a lot of my time. During this new year, I am going to try to slow down. I am going to try to take time to pause and listen. I hope that this will help me to let God in more to my life.
Now this is what I’m going to do because it’s the change that my life needs. I invite you to take this next week to pray about what changes you can make. How can you listen to God more? What changes will it take? We get so caught up doing our own things, how will we let Him in to be a part of it?
As I said, I am going to be slowing down. Part of that was my decision, but part of that my life chose for me. If you have not heard, I tore my achilles tendon mid-December (I’m sure there will be a blog about tendon science coming sometime). I had surgery to fix it last Thursday. Due to this injury, I can’t walk. I am laid up on a couch unable to do a whole lot of anything. Thanks to this as well as a few other things in my life, I am choosing to take a small step back from this blog. Small being the key word. I am still going to try to get a blog out every week, but I am not going to put as much pressure on myself to FOR SURE do it EVERY week. If there are weeks where my leg is killing me or I’m way behind on housework or my child is being an absolute terror, I am giving myself the leeway to not have a blog that week. This is not only for my mental sanity, but as I said in the blog, I truly think this will help me to be more open to what God is trying to tell me. Who knows, maybe this will lead to even more insightful blogs in the future. Because the blog will not be coming out every week, I would really encourage all of you to SUBSCRIBE so that you don’t miss it on the weeks that it does come out. Simply type in your email below, click subscribe, then confirm you’re a real person when you get the verification email from my host site “Strikingly”. This will allow me to continue to share the good news with you as often as I can. Thank you so much for your understanding. Please pray for me to have a quick and easy recovery. Know that I will be praying for each and every one of you as we go into this new year. God bless.