Our backyard feeder attracts a community of animals.
Besides birds we have raccoons, squirrels, rabbits, chipmunks, and deer.
We call the rabbit Stretch. He is very cautious when he comes up to the
feed dish, day or night. His only defense is his speed. Fear keeps him
alive, and he's grown to be big and old.
Some say the rabbit is a symbol of fear and the deer is a symbol of
gentleness. The other day a beautiful doe and a six-point buck came to the
feed dishes. I heard a crash in the brush as they approached. The buck
came up to the doe, bumped her out of the way, and stooped to the dish
himself. The rabbit sat opposite the dish, watching the buck. They were
only four or five feet apart. I was proud of the rabbit's bravery. I told
my wife, "The deer hasn't learned anything about gentleness, but the
rabbit is learning something about bravery."
The rabbit and squirrels are about equal. Each waits for the other to eat
first. If the rabbit's there first, the squirrels get a little pushy and
boisterous, but they wait until the rabbit decides to leave the dish.
The most nervy of the creatures is a little chipmunk. He doesn’t have any
grace at all. When he comes out of the woods, he can hardly see over the
top of the grass, but he runs straight at the squirrels. He zips through,
coming up behind them, and he scares the living daylights out of them. The
squirrels dash up the trees, and the chipmunk flies at the doves next.
Pretty soon he's cleared the area and has the dish to himself.
The blue jays are outranked by the squirrels, but they're clever. They'll
start making a lot of noise when the squirrels are at the dish. "Danger!
Danger!" they scream. And the squirrels all run off into the trees,
leaving the dish clear for the blue jays.
This little group makes up a spiritual community. They're learning their
little lessons about when to come to the feed dish.
I look at them and think how much they are like people. People divide
themselves in one way or another, by age, race, religion, or political
affiliation. At the same time they forget we are all God's creatures. What
really matters is how people treat each other in the human community.
Stories To Help You See God In Your Life,
The Book of ECK Parables,
Volume 4, pp. 161-162