Monday, December 1, 2008

Peaceful Respite Amidst Gunfire

I live in the mountains of Pennsylvania where the hunting of wildlife is a favorite activity for many. I realize that hunting is part of the natural equalizing of man and nature, it maintains the food chain and is a fact of life, especially in this rural community. I am not a hunting advocate, nor am I against it....I see it as simply something that "is".

My home is situated at the edge of town. If you're on the front porch it feels like you're in town, and if you're in the backyard, it feels like you're in the country, since a mountain and it's wildlife border our property.

Today was the opening day for deer season. Sometimes I wonder what the deer may be thinking when they become aware of orange and red plaid clad hunters stomping about the woods and perched in trees, that they consider to be their home.

Periodically throughout the day I heard gunshots from the mountain. I know the hills were likely to be occupied by many hunters searching for the deer that run wild there.

In the middle of the afternoon I noticed several deer enjoying a modest lunch of grass and azaleas, in my backyard. They seemed perfectly peaceful and content as the gun shots fired not too far off in the distance.

The peacefulness of the scene struck me due to the contrast of how we humans tend to live. The deer were totally present in the moment and showed no apparent signs of fear. They looked for food, ate, and just hung out for awhile obviously enjoying life in their own way.

When I consider how humans react to the happenings of life from a place of fear (even when there is no immediate danger), it strikes me the deer and other wild animals seem to have the art of peace and presence down pat.

Whatever potential or even real danger may be close by, they peacefully live in the moment. They don't look over their shoulders watching for enemies, they take care of their immediate needs, they frolic and enjoy life whenever they can and they use their natural senses and instincts to stay alive. If one of their family is shot, they move on accepting this natural stage of life, called death, with peaceful acceptance.

I'm not suggesting our human experience of life can directly parallel animals (I don't think I'd like azaleas), although I do believe there are some lessons for us such as "acceptance of what is, brings peace", and to enjoy whatever is present NOW, without fearing what's next.

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