Thursday, January 22, 2009

Encounters with foxes

"You must be very patient," replied the fox. "First you will sit down at a little distance from me-- like that-- in the grass. I shall look at you out of the corner of my eye, and you will say nothing. Words are the source of misunderstandings. But you will sit a little closer to me, every day..."

One September when we were at Grailville on retreat, there was a young fox wandering the grounds. It was clearly orphaned, and was relatively comfortable with people at a distance, though they couldn't lure it into a carrier to take it to the vet and get shots. One sunny afternoon, it was fooling around in the big yard in front of the meditation hall when we came out. I sat down on the grass about 20 feet from it and slowly did my yoga, feeling very companionable, thinking affectionately about the fox who is tamed in The Little Prince. The fox didn't mind me at all. Yoga was probably the most natural thing it ever saw a human do.

This morning I was reading Robert Aitken's commentary on a Zen koan called "Pai-chang's Fox," and came to a charming anecdote of an encounter he had with a fox. Since we also have foxes in the ravine now, and have seen one standing beside the road, I can't resist posting this.
When I was living in LaCrescenta, California . . . on weekends I used to walk up a dirt road into the national forest. One day I came upon a fox - or a fox came upon me - where the road bent around a little ridge. She had come trotting down from above, and I appeared from below. We both stopped and looked at each other. At that moment the wind came up and blew a large piece of newspaper around and around on the road in a miniature cyclone. The fox jumped on this piece of paper and looked at me with a merry look in her eye. Then she stepped off the newspaper and it began to blow around again. She jumped on the paper again and looked at me, just as though she were inviting me to laugh at her great game. Suddenly conditions changed, and she ran back up the road. This encounter was truly an experience of grace.

No comments:

Post a Comment