Life is a hunter, and it preys on death.
We tend to think of this the other way around, but one of the simplest observable truths is that as soon as something dies living things begin their work of turning it back into life again. Death may stalk life, but life stalks it right back.
I sat in a tree this evening to hunt. My purpose was to take a life.
Not for fun, for I find no joy in the actual death of any living thing, and certainly not in being the one bringing about that death. To thoughtfully hunt is one of the more sobering things a person will ever do. But I know death is part of life, and that all animals (and even a few plants) kill to sustain themselves, for even herbivores must kill the cells in the plants they consume to obtain their nutrients. So I sat in a tree with a bow and arrows in the hope of being quite directly and personally involved in this sacred circle that sustains all creatures.
I did not have long to wait. After only a short period of time, three deer passed near me, but not near enough for me to take a clean shot. I have no desire to merely wound an animal and see it suffer. If I shoot, I want to be as certain as I can the animal will feel no needless pain. I want–no I need–a clean shot for a clean kill. If I am going to consciously join this dance, I owe the animals that much and so much more–for the animal will help to sustain me.
Shortly after the first three deer passed, two more approached. I drew my bow on the first and my arrow flew true. The doe ran only a short distance. I felt sad and thankful and deeply a part of something wild to the point of scary. On reaching her, I thanked her and told her I was sorry. That she could live on in me perhaps. I stroked her fur and felt her beauty and wildness. I thanked the earth from which she sprang and the Maker of all things–for the food, for the experience, for my own earthy life which one day too will end.
I will butcher the deer myself. She will be truly honest food for me and mine. I will not take one bite without thinking of her. Of her living and of her dying and of my part in both–and of both our parts in the larger story of life on earth. Much of that story is the ceaseless hunt. Death stalking life and life stalking death. Life is a hunter. Today, so was I.