“The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.” (Numbers 6:24-26)
I went for a walk the other day to clear my head. As the foot falls became a cadence in my head, I found myself being carried through the Highlands neighborhood and toward Cherokee Park. I entered the walking trail, still early enough in the morning for the dew to hang heavy on the leaves above my head. Looking around, I found a branch of suitable size to use for a walking stick and picked it up from the forest floor.
The woods seemed quiet this morning, but as my ears adjusted to perceive their voices, I began to hear the birds twittering throughout the trees. I still could not see them. Rounding a bend in the trail that followed Beargrass Creek, I caught movement out of the corner of my eye. A white-tailed buck, with his four-pronged antlers in summer velvet stood not 20 feet from me, eyeing me cautiously. From out of the depths of my soul the words quoted above came to mind. “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you…” I spoke out loud and cut the sign of the cross in the young buck’s direction. He and I turned simultaneously to continue on our separate ways.
Those words kept coming back with every citizen of the woods I met. Slugs, trees, chipmunks, birds, squirrels… even the water of the most polluted waterway in the state were all blessed in
the same way. I felt that connection to the natural world that brings peace and order to the soul.
And then a hawk appeared overhead. Instinctively, I began: “The Lord bless you and keep
you…” but then slowly it dawned on me. The blessing and keeping of this hawk would mean the destruction of some other creature. Perhaps that very squirrel that I had just blessed would be the blessing that sustained the hawk above through its suffering and death. Something about that didn’t feel quite right.
When you think of hawks and squirrels in general, that whole “circle of life” thing works. Obviously, death is a part of this life. It is natural and inevitable. But when you apply it to this hawk and that squirrel it’s a little too real to relegate to the realm of social philosophy. To think that the death of one might be the blessing of another simply is too much mystery for my mind to work out.
Instead of working it out, I simply continued speaking to the hawk: “…The Lord make his face
to shine upon you…” Trusting that although I may not know how the mystery of blessing works, I know that it works. And that is grace in and of itself; grace and grace enough.
Cody Nygard, Director of Discipleship and Connection