A couple of years ago (pre-Ms.Kitty's), I wrote a sermon with this title and, for the reading, used an excerpt from Loren Eiseley's book of essays,The Immense Journey. It's entitled "The Judgment of the Birds" and it is a grim but realistic and strangely uplifting commentary on the food chain and what it means to be prey and predator.
I am reminded of this essay (as well as another, less grim one, "The Bird and the Machine") by last night's encounter with the food chain, when Max leaped back onto the deck with the chewed-up hindquarters of a small bunny in his mouth, marching proudly into the living room as I watched my movie.
I shrieked, he dropped it and ran to hide, and I gingerly picked it up and deposited it in the garbage can, scrubbing my hands furiously and then moving quickly to shut the deck door so that he couldn't go out again. I watched him sniff the floor to pick up its scent until he finally realized that it was gone and gave up.
But Max is predator and the bunny is prey. It's in his nature to hunt and in the bunny's nature to avoid being caught and eaten. It's in my nature to try to prevent this and I may put a bell on him to warn potential victims, though this may alert predators to his presence as well. Short of keeping him inside forever, this is a scenario that is difficult to manage. One of life's little dilemmas---to me, anyhow, though a bigger one to Max and to the bunny.
A second issue on the Dark Side is that of ageing, generally. Tomorrow I will be 66 years old. I don't mind being 66; it's pretty cool to hear from folks that I don't look my age. I am aware that many 66 year olds don't fare as well and sometimes I am surprised to hear that someone is younger than I because in my mind, I am young and others are older, not me.
My son's protectiveness is both a comfort and a concern, for because of it, I have an awareness that I am actually in that age group which needs more protection, in some ways. The senior discounts are lovely, but they are there for a reason---reduced economic circumstances, reduced mobility, and, of course, deference to an elder. My economic circumstances are okay right now and my mobility is fine, unless the tendinitis happens to kick in and slow me down.
I think I was reflecting about this last year at this time as well. Every year I tend to assess what the passing years mean and assess my condition. This year I am pleased to say that though I am not dieting nor do I intend to, I am working out for 30 minutes five days a week at the gym. It's painless and I've made friends there and I'll continue to do so. So my physical health is sustained by exercise and relatively healthy eating. I'm also singing regularly, one of my most favorite things in the world to do. I'm productive in my work and more prolific in my writing. My group of friends grows and those connections deepen.
At the same time, there are increased sorrows---friends'/congregants' health issues, families moving away, children with troubles, occasional conflicts between those I love. The economic, environmental, and social woes of our nation and the huge challenges our new President will face are depressing, to say the least.
And yet I feel optimistic that the universe is unfolding as it will and we will rise to the challenges of tomorrow with whatever resources we have. Sometimes we are predator and sometimes we are prey. Death happens, sorrow is part of life, and new life springs abundant daily.