By: Tonya Stevenson
In the second winter of our marriage my husband and I were driving home after feeding the cows. In the pasture ahead of us a herd of antelope came flying around the hill, ears pinned back, necks stretched, mouths opened, in a panicked full out run.
“Otie yells, “Tonya, watch this!” He points over the herd. Directly above the antelope, a magnificent golden eagle soared in fixated pursuit. He pinned his wings and dove into the center of the terrified herd, smashing into a yearling antelope at the break of shoulder and neck. The antelope tumbled into a violent roll across the rocky, sage, and snow covered terrain. She came up with a dangling broken front leg.
The herd split around and rushed on at brake necked speed, leaving quickly behind their wounded mate, who hopped after in desperate agony. I watched with new respect for the power and the efficiency of this monarch of the skies who now circled casually in utter confidence above his prey. With my awe mingled sorrow for the plight of one gallantly struggling young life.
“I can’t believe that.” I exclaimed. “I didn’t know they could take down something so large.”
The eagle swooped down again with outstretched talons and skillfully knocked the antelope to her side. This time he stayed with his falling victim and victoriously perched upon his hot feast. Holding her down dauntlessly, as his beak savagely ripped into his living meal.
We were now at the gate to enter the pasture, perhaps a hundred feet from where this fight for life was ending for one; for another, the predator, renewal by ravaged fresh blood.
I opened the pickup door still glued upon the life and death drama played out before me, amazed, emotions clashing. As I stepped out a thought struck me, and I snatched my rabbit skin hat from my head, throwing it back into the pickup. Otie’s laughter peeled out through the icy air. “What’s the matter do you think he will mistake you for a rabbit?”
I knew it was irrational, besides today’s taker of life already had an abundant feed before him. Nevertheless, even as those beady eyes turned warily to watch us, I knew I had no desire to be seen as his prey. As Otie drove through and I closed the gate, the eagle reluctantly interrupted his meal to fly haughtily into the air above us, also uncomfortable with our close presence.
The dying antelope struggled to rise on three legs, as she did so, her intestines fell out from an already gaping hole in her stomach, snagging on the sagebrush. Her fate already sealed; our intrusion only delayed her agony.
I love nature, the great outdoors, and never cease to admire God’s astounding creation. I understand full well that in our broken world death is a part of life. That day embedded a vivid picture in my mind of the stark reality of sin’s cost to not only man, but all of creation. A never forgettable image of Romans 8:22-23 (NET), “For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers together until now. Not only this, but we ourselves also, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we eagerly await our adoption, the redemption of our bodies. “
photo credit – Tony Hisgett