One thing I have noticed in my somewhat eventful life is that animals are very perceptive people. I mean, they live and survive on a very primitive level, and yet, just perhaps, and forgive my sacrilege, they are often more Christ-like than people.
What in the world do I mean by making such a statement? Well, take the issue of trust.
Here we are, supposedly a higher life form, yet we go about our lives wearing a diadem of fear as though it were our sole purpose. Yeah, we are afraid. We are afraid of people, animals, the dark, and even God, which more is the pity. Animals have reason to fear us. After all, we eat them, and if we don’t eat them, we kill them for sport.
In my 80-plus years of hobnobbing with animals as a naturalist and zoo director, I have perceived enough four-leggeds and two-leggeds to have witnessed some rare examples of profound, even miraculous trust.
That time, I reared a fledgling red-tail hawk to maturity and eventually released him back into the wild. A couple of years later, I was hiking in the woods some twenty miles from my home when I heard the shrill shriek of a red-tail hawk.
Looking up, I was pleased to see the beautiful bird watching me from his vantage point on a dead snag not far away. We stared at each other, and then, on a wish or a whim, I am not sure which, I called to him. “King, is that really you?” He fluffed himself up, stared at me, cried again, and flew closer still. Then, hopping from branch to branch, he approached until only ten or twelve feet separated us. We visited that red-tail hawk, and the red-headed boy-man and exchanged banalities, until, having caught up on recent events, with a final “chirp, chirrup, and another shriek, he flew away. (He told me that he had a date with a sweet little field mouse on the other side of the woods.) I know that was King because such an event is so far from typical between hawks and men.
That was a special moment in space and time and a beautiful gift from our wonderful, generous, and loving God. Only by God’s grace can we imagine such a demonstration of trust. King displayed no fear that day. What a profound example of God’s love.
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