Faithless Reverence

RThe fawn’s hide hangs a quarter of a mile away, atop a young oak with leaves just pushing to the surface of flexible branches. The sap had become restless since the winter temperatures warmed above freezing during the day. Open to the elements and winged scavengers, the hide will be ready to cure in a week—provided larger scavengers didn’t find it. Prowlers were the reason for the distance between the hide and ourselves.

To use every scrap of a kill is to live in reverence for life. The fawn’s life, the life it transfers to our bodies is immutable energy. There will come a day when I hunt smaller and again smaller game. I realize my life, flavored of reverence, will nurture something else’s life. My wife turns to stoke the smoker and smiles at my steady gaze.

My quiver is full before I swallow the first mouthful of venison. It is a moment of presence encompassing survival of all things. My wife feels the reverence as I do, though we haven’t a shared faith.

I am faithless. The laws of nature and science, such as I remember science, are sufficient to explain success or failure, rich health or poor health.

To raise her hands and voice in ritual, to speak to an entity greater than herself, it keeps her hopeful. The habits of her belief structure her living. And so her reverence is divided or shared among what she sees as a purposeful existence.

Gratitude for the strength of my body and the wit of my mind, those are where I place my faith. And in her skill. I observe her reverence and she mine without the need to explain its source on a personal level.

I suppose my reverence isn’t entirely without faith.

©2014 Sandra R. Davidson

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