(Host) This Thanksgiving weekend, commentator Jim Luken is thinking about current events from an unusual perspective.
(Luken) I’m sure you’ve experienced it. The odd sense of how things sometimes fall into a kind of pattern. Unrelated happenings dovetailing in odd, if not mysterious, ways. Believers might give too much weight to these synergistic events. Doubters – too little.
One such synergism – unforgettable for me – happened on Thanksgiving morning several years ago. I was sitting with my wife at our bay window, looking out on an Eastern sky, newly alive with pinks and purples. New snow glistened on the mountainside where we live. The day before, I had received an unexpected gift from my former wife, the mother of our four grown kids. The gift was a laminated print of a Russian religious icon. On the back, unrelated to the icon, was the text of a story-poem, entitled…”A Gift from a Lynx.”
I read the anonymous story-poem aloud to Jeanette as we sipped our coffee. As a way of thanking a pious hermit for curing her cub’s blindness, a lynx gives the gift of a sheepskin to the holy man. In the poem, the hermit rebukes the lynx for twice causing suffering: the sheep’s pain, and the pain of the impoverished man who had owned the sheep.
The lynx weeps at the hermit’s scolding. “I did not know,” the lynx says. Acting instinctively as an animal, the lynx had failed to notice all the suffering it had caused.
A few moments later, I glanced outside just as a large hawk came swooping straight toward our picture window. At the last moment, the hawk veered downward. I thought it had struck the house. I stood up and leaned toward the glass. Seeing me loom in the window, the hawk flew off, leaving a shocked, disheveled grouse staggering toward the foundation wall. Jeanette pulled on her boots and hurried to aid the grouse. As she approached, the bird took wing, leaving a flurry of feathers in the snow.
Even now I’m not sure how to interpret this little concurrence. The story of animal violence followed so closely by a vivid example from the natural world. In these days of ongoing wars and rumors of war, my thoughts often carry me from the local and personal, toward the macrocosmic, the global, the big picture.
Since the dawn of this millennium which had held so much hope, events seem to be spiraling, like the flight of the hawk, toward more, and endless, violence. We have come to a circumstance where, like the hawk and the lynx, few on any side seem willing to feel the suffering that lies beyond their own self interests and security.
In the animal kingdom, there is a natural logic to the patterns of tooth and talon. Even so, sometimes it makes us squirm. We humans cannot say with the lynx, “I did not know.” When we opt for violence, our acts have consequences that reach far beyond themselves, into countless lives, and toward a future that will be determined either by forbearance – or by vengeance.
From Sheffield, this is Jim Luken.
(Host) Jim Luken is a writer and manages a senior living facility.