Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Blind Faith


Moonlight was the only illumination needed. Shadows danced across the Texas brush country like phantoms from an old silent picture, for tonight there was no sound.


My eyes strained to make out the form of a wild hog in the darkness. With the flick of a red spotlight, the “hog” became a pile of rocks, or clump of cactus. My eyes and mind teased each other with visions each wanted to see.


Against the wall of my blind was my rifle, yet unbloodied. My hand involuntarily reached out to touch the smooth walnut stock. That old feeling of security and competence warmed me in the cool February night air.



Sixty yards in front of my blind, across a no man’s land of crumbled chocolate rock and all manner of thorned plants, was a stock tank…you can call it a pond if you aren’t from Texas.


There the water shrank into smaller circles daily with the persistent drought gnawing at the land like a dog worries a bone. Tracks of many animals were imprinted in the soft mud. There is the print of a coon…and over here a deer. These nearer to the edge are coyotes. Those depressions yonder are hog wallows, where swine come for their beauty treatments.


Being nearly midnight, I would have been flirting with the law had I been there when bucks were on the menu. But tonight is early February, and sane deer hunters are home in their warm comfortable beds.


I smile to myself, because I share a tryst with the woods, One that is inexplicable to those not familiar with sunrises over the duck marsh or sunsets in the deer woods. I struggle to help co workers understand why an educated and reasonably rational man such as I would climb into an elevated blind and spend over seven hours in the night just watching nature, when chances of taking game are relatively small. Perhaps it is for the same reason a man has trouble explaining why he loves who he loves. Sometimes it is just so, and explanations are not needed…for they will not be understood by those who don’t care, nor matter to those who can’t see.


On this night the quarry is the blue collar animal of the Americas, the feral hog. Feral hogs at one point in their ancestry were domesticated. But they escaped from their wire prisons and bred in the brush country just like the Longhorn cattle did during the Civil War. And just like those Longhorns, the hog’s progeny grew up tough, wary, and wild.


With corn scattered to bait the hogs in, there is now nothing to do but wait. But there is no boredom here. There is wonder, hardscrabble beauty, honesty….and silence. Not a breath of air stirs, not a rustle of leaves disturbs my fortress of solitude. I am alone.


Being alone is a rare commodity today. We are social creatures to be sure, but even the most social need to reconnect with their roots. Time alone does not need to mean time lonely, for in solitude, chaos can turn to order, and turmoil can melt into purpose.


Perhaps the hunt is an excuse to enter my fortress of solitude, where my thoughts can soar, and my soul can be stripped bare of false pretense before my creator. A simple stroll in the cool of the evening as our ancestor Adam used to take.


Perhaps the hunt is a ritual that allows me to be social in camp with men I would trust my life to, then to move to solitude to contemplate the blessings of having such men to call friends.


Maybe the hunt is a right of passage, or an escape from reality, or therapy. Or perhaps a connection with our ancestral past, in the way homebound dogs howl at the moon when the wolf DNA in their marrow boils.

Of these things the philosophers can debate. But for me this place, this ritual, this pilgrimage is intertwined with faith, because here I can simply commune with my Father.


I hope that my view from the blind is one that always sees beyond the seen to the unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:18b)


For those who never have had blind faith…pity.


Tight Lines....

7 comments:

Sara Lisch said...

Well here's one you'll never have to explain "Perhaps it is for the same reason a man has trouble explaining why he loves who he loves." Anyone who knows your bride totally gets that one! And thanks for FINALLY updating the blog - great job.

Mark said...

See, it's just the anticipation that makes it better. I don;t want you to get spoiled ;-)

Jocelyn said...

What a beautiful, poetic, moving glimpse into your spirit and why you enjoy the hunt Papa Dillow.

You are truly a consummate story teller. And Sara above is correct! We ALL know why you love who you love at least, probably not to the level and you God do though. :)

Sara Lisch said...

Oh Mark - you know I don't do "waiting" well. It just makes me grouchy

Mark said...

Not grouchy...feisty. ;-)

Sara Lisch said...

Waiting makes me grouchy, wine makes my fiesty

Drew said...

Absence makes the heart grow fonder...