I recently moved from a city/suburban life to a rural life. In the city, I needed to see large open spaces – just space enough beneath skyscrapers to see the sky would suffice on weekdays, but weekends I needed to see a sweep of prairie or a vista of ocean to feel at peace.
So, I love it here: the woods, winter, wind and sky. The cold is cold to the bone. The big empty sky is expansive, the wind brings inspiration and here you see life constantly renewing itself. Here it is easy to be inspired and let my ideas and my writing flow.
However, I wasn’t prepared for the culture of fishing and hunting. This is BIG here (this is only news to those who live beyond a 500 mile radius). The economy, the music, the kids’ school attendance – all are effected by hunting and fishing. For some it is their sport, for others, it is how they have enough to eat. For me, I just didn’t get it.
I am fortunate to be living close to relatives who love hunting and fishing. Already my younger son is jumping at the gun (so to speak) to learn how to shoot rifles and to have my brother-in-law take him out this hunting season.
My sister-in-law explains to me that she wants to teach me the serenity of ice-fishing. Here, she explains, you are out in this wide-open space filled with stillness. Everything is white, cold and silent. Even through the hole in the ice, the slow rare sights of the movements of fish keep pace with a frozen rhythm. The peace and the time alone are nourishing. The earth, though still asleep, continues to yield bountifully.
My husband’s uncle is a big deer hunter. He, along with his lifelong wife, are good hearted and practical people. He says he will never hunt bear, however, because bear mate for life. Although this leads me to speculate about the morality of deer, it is surprising that he would take a bear’s monogamy as a criteria for hunting. It speaks of our connection to all living things, of our ability to help create a balance in the life and death of wildlife, and of our personal connection and identification with wild animals.
In the Bible in Genesis 1, verse 26, indicates that God has given man dominion over the earth. Mary Baker Eddy, biblical scholar and author, writes,
“Man, made in His (God’s) likeness, possesses and reflects God’s dominion over all the earth.”
This is not about domination over the earth, but God’s dominion – a loving, life preserving responsibility to care for the earth.
It is this loving caretaking, the appreciation of nature and the careful knowledge of the wilderness that I can embrace. I don’t know if I will ever hunt or fish, but I can feel at home with those who do.
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