A few nights ago I was awakened by terrifying screams outside our bedroom window.  My husband and I live in the country surrounded by a small patch of woods, so I knew it wasn’t a human scream.  I rushed to the window but couldn’t see anything at first.  After the screaming stopped a few seconds later, I then observed a small, dark creature leaving the yard and trotting off into the woods.  Judging from its size and gait, I surmised it was a fox that had probably caught a rabbit.  

A rabbit’s scream when captured is a very heart-wrenching, terrifying sound, one that makes me shudder and question the goodness of nature and its ways.  This disturbing incident also makes me think of the human species and how vulnerable and marginal people are attacked and “eaten” by those who are bigger and stronger.  Unlike the fox who hunts for survival, however, some of the human species destroy only to satisfy a deranged and misplaced hunger.  

Why?  Why not another way?  Why the violence and bloodshed in nature and in humanity?  No answers, of course, only silence and the cross.  All of this makes me feel very small, insignificant, and afraid almost of this unknowable, holy Mystery I dare to call God.

It is hard to describe what feelings the experience invoked in me, so I offer this poem which, I hope, says it a little better.

Holy Terror

Terror in the darkness

Screams piercing the night

The innocent becoming victim

To satisfy the stronger one’s hunger

 

It is the way of nature, you say

The rabbit feeding her own hunger on grass

The fox feeding his 

Both under the watchful eye of God

 

Holy Terror, Holy Mystery

Why?

Why not another way

Without the shedding of blood?

 

Surely, I am not the only one

Who asks this question

No answer comes . . .

 

Only silence and the cross.

 – Sallie Bachar