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.
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 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