This red fox is very special to me, and always welcome to partake of the bird buffet.
It was grievously injured last summer, hit by a car most likely. The fox suffered a compound fracture of its left rear leg, an injury that traumatized me as much as it traumatized the fox. I quickly learned that none of the animal rescue or wildlife agencies will intervene in such a situation. The best advice I got was to call the police and see if I could talk them into coming over and shooting it. If the fox had been immobilized, I no doubt would have gone that route, to put it out of its misery. But it was still mobile, and would hop off into the woods as soon as it caught sight of any movement.
Thus began days and weeks of emotional anguish, as the hapless thing refused to die, hopping about with that horrible injury, passing my window every few days. I eventually closed the blinds to my office window and left them down, as I could not bear to see it. Not knowing what else to do, I began praying for this fox. I asked friends and family to pray for it, despite the fact that I was fairly sure this would ensure my being labeled a lunatic. After all, how many wild animals get injured and killed every minute of every day, right? My pastor was good enough not to ridicule my distress, and he offered the following prayer, which I prayed every time I saw it, and whenever I became upset thinking about it -
We humbly pray Lord, that in Your mercy
You would relieve the suffering of Your creatures.
For surely, You are the Creator of all and
You desire the wholeness of all You have created.
I prayed this prayer as I wept for it on this afternoon in September, as it napped in my garden three weeks after the injury. When I first noticed it lying out there, I thought "well that's great, it has come to die in my garden." But it wasn't dying, just peacefully napping. It smelled me through the open window when I crept closer to get a better look, eventually getting up and limping away.
There is more to this story, more than I can tell here, more than I'm comfortable telling here. It is healed and healthy now, and a regular visitor to the bird feeders I've put out for the winter, getting around on three legs as well as other animals do on four. Suffice it to say that this beautiful red fox represents for me miracle and mystery, as well as a powerful lesson in humility. Despite what I had previously imagined, it actually isn't my job to take care of, and personally be responsible for, every being on earth. I have other work to do. I can however, still love these creatures. And oh my, do I love this fox.
(Yep, there's seed up there too!
Help yourself, you beautiful and tenacious creature.)