Saturday, February 11, 2017

Nature Dance

I watched a nature dance today. As I drove past Nose Hill Park in Calgary, I noticed three deer sticking close together in a herd. Then I noticed two coyotes on this side of the deer, two more to the west of the trio, and one more behind the deer. I realized I was watching a coyote hunt. They were working as a pack to corral the deer, assessing which of the three moved most slowly through the deep snow, watching for any signs of weakness. The coyotes were moving with a circular motion around the deer and the whole collection of animals was moving in a westward direction. The resulting appearance made one think of choreographed dance – but a deadly one! There was a good chance that one of the dancers was about to die. I could not stay long enough to see the final result but I think I might go by later and look for signs of blood in the snow or any other evidence of a struggle. It was a beautiful, sad, and noble thing to see. This was how things were designed to be. This was the struggle of life and death; of one carbon-based creature seeking metabolic energy from another carbon-based creature. The deer had been doing the same just a few minutes before this as they munched on the dry grass of the park; chewing up the life of a plant that lived and died upon the land.

I thought about how fragile life can be. I thought about my own struggles and the things I must do to find sufficient energy to keep my carbon-based metabolism running smoothly. God has crafted me with the same care with which he prepared the deer and coyotes to interact. He has even used several of the same principles. I am not God’s pet; I am his child. He wants me to go out into the world and find my way. He wants me to be mature and look for my place in the ecosystem. I am like one of those coyotes. I must look for ways in which I can create lasting sustenance for myself and for my pack. I must serve the greater bio-system.

Your unfailing love, O Lord, is as vast as the heavens;
    your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds.
Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains,
    your justice like the ocean depths.
You care for people and animals alike, O Lord.
    How precious is your unfailing love, O God!
All humanity finds shelter
    in the shadow of your wings. - Psalm 36:5-7


  1. Wonderful post, Keith. It reminded me of a poem I read way back in public school days by a Maine poet named Robert Peter Tristram Coffin. Stop me if you've heard it before.

    Crystal Moment

    Once or twice this side of death things can make one hold his breath.
    From my boyhood I remember a crystal moment in September.
    A wooded island rang with sounds of church bells in the throats of hounds.
    A buck leaped out and took the tide with jewels flowing past each side.
    With his head high like a tree he swam within a yard of me.
    I saw the golden drop of light in his eyes turned dark with fright.
    I saw the forest's holiness on him like a fierce caress.
    Fear made him lovely past belief, my heart was trembling like a leaf.
    He leans toward the land and life with need upon him like a knife.
    In his wake the hot hounds churned, they stretched their muzzles out and yearned.
    They bayed no more, but swam and throbbed, hunger drove them till they sobbed.
    Pursued, pursuers reached the shore and vanished. I saw nothing more.
    So they passed, a pageant such as only gods could witness much,
    Life and death upon one tether and running beautiful together.

    Robin Shumaker