THIS MORNING I WITNESSED IT- and I cannot keep it to myself. As often as we may see this in the natural world, the experience is riveting. Some truths we do not face easily.
Something must die for us to live.
That's a fact. An axiom. A truth of nature: In death is life. This process unfolds all around us all the time, as simple as arising each day and eating breakfast-even our cereal was once a green and thriving plant.
So, there I stand, looking out the window, pondering the new day, enjoying a squirrel grazing beneath our feeders. Plumping himself against the winter chill; munching on grains as I had. Chickadees, Sparrows, Cardinals, Wrens peck at these kernels of life that we provide in our backyard buffet. As they crowd our feeders, they scatter an overflow on the squirrel's head. Even a Downy Woodpcker's sweet suet bits cascade over this fortunate grazer. Bounty showering all around him, he munches in fat contentment.
Then, a flash.
The birds explode from the feeders-gone-which is what I chiefly notice, at first. Until I realize the squirrel is gone as well. Where? I did see it unfold, I realize. The hawk shot down with talons and beak poised for the strike.
Now, I see that hawk lifting him almost softly-softly to my eyes. The squirrel utters one, short, sharp, final squeak. Soaring to a broad tree limb-50 feet above the fray. I witness a meal that will steel this regal hawk against the winter chill.
The danger past, the other birds return to the feeders one by one. Soon that colorful community is restored. But I cannot turn my eyes from the tree branch. I cannot help but watch-like catching a glimpse in my mind's eye of myself in a coffin.
We say: In death is life. We know it. But, this is a hard truth, isn't it? I sit down and jot this prayer, which I share with you today:
O Lord, I eat flesh and I eat grains.
All die that I may live.
This is not a prayer of guilty confession;
I pray in humble thanksgiving today.
Grant me awareness to undergird my choices:
Turn my competition and violence,
Toward stewardship and compassion,
Toward justice, kindness, mercy
And thanks for the promise of life.