Yesterday I was profoundly saddened as I was listening to a conversation between some hunters as they discussed their excitement at the approaching hunting seasons. They spoke of being unable to sleep the night before a hunt from the opportunity to get out in the woods and enjoy nature and the feeling of freedom from standing on ground that may have never known man’s feet before.
I was thinking that I have those same feelings before a photo trip. I hike to the same places, see the same mountains, trees, lakes and wildlife. But then they spoke of the thrill of killing an elk or a bear and I was reminded of a picture of a bear that I was able to snap some time ago. I was excited to finally get a shot of a bear. What I was not prepared for was the feeling that came over me when I saw the animals eyes through Photoshop. They say the eyes are the window to the soul and the beautiful spirit showing through this bear’s eyes was truly moving.
This little family of bears was not threatening in any way. They were just meandering about their business of being bears. They stopped to look at me to make sure I wasn’t a threat and seemed to be a little curious as to what I was up to. This has been true of all the animals I have encountered in my adventures in the mountain wilderness. Some of the more timid animals have run at the sight of me, but many just stood there and looked at me, completely unaware that I could be any kind of threat to them. Just as the bear family, they all were just going about their business of being deer, elk, and coyotes.
When I encounter these animals and briefly become part of their lives, the peace and solitude I experience is hard to describe in words. I cannot imagine breaking the silence and peace with the sound of a gunshot and watching one of these beautiful souls drop into a lifeless heap. I wonder at the kind of spirit that enjoys the sudden disruption in the solitude of nature’s tranquility and the end of a life that was previously minding it’s own business unaware that it was a target in a game for someone’s entertainment.
I can only think that such people have not seen these animals the way that I have. They have not looked into their eyes and seen the spirit I have seen. They have not looked through the window to the soul in this beautiful part of God’s Creation.