The wolves slink over the knoll, first one and then another. Bold in their efforts to assess their prey, one passes a male ox who notes its presence but raises no alarm.
Now committed, they act. Working in concert, one wolf scatters the herd while the other zeroes in on its weakest member. The music builds. My heart races. Their goal to separate the calf from the others is accomplished, and the wolves combine forces to bring down the target of their premeditated murder.
A struggle ensues. Mayhem builds. Tufts of baby ox hair fly. I hear the isolated calf’s panicked screams and the wolves’ fearsome snarls even though the video registers neither. Certain that the little ox’s death is imminent, I wince and begin to turn my head to the left.
At forty, I stop. Though I can still see the wounded calf and its attackers in my peripheral vision to the right, what my eyes capture on the left changes everything.
As if in a moment of epiphany, the herd stops its crazed stampeding and turns toward the scene of unfolding violence. Regrouping, its members shake off their confusion. Is it instinct or is it thought? It would seem that instinct caused them to scatter, but a higher level of reasoning results in what happens next.
And now they charge doing a bit of their own scattering. Unlike the wolves, however, the herd’s goal is not one of destruction but of preservation. As quickly as they free the calf, they sweep their weakened member between their powerful hooves and shield him in the midst of their great, hulking frames. Circling their young, they pivot. Now facing outward brandishing horns like weapons of bronze, the mighty oxen dare the wolves to complete their murderous deed.
The narrator is heard saying these words, “Musk oxen have been observed forming these defensive circles around the elderly and sick as well as their young,” and I can almost hear the unspoken ending “for centuries.” The camera zooms in on the bewildered but most relieved calf’s sweet face. And then in one final unified move, the herd advances slowly toward the defeated wolves who now slink back over the knoll from where they came.
And my heart sings.
To be sure, wolves do what wolves do, and wolves need to eat. There is no one leaving bags of kibble for them to consume a civilized diet, nor should there be. I would not begrudge a wild carnivore his daily “bread”. So here is where I must leave my examination of how the tundra’s fittest survive and turn my attention to what this nature drama can teach those of us in the Body of Christ.
Do we, as the Church, work in unison to protect our weakest members? Are we intentional in our missions of rescue? Can we say we are confident and unified in our show of strength when the weapon we wield is the very Word of God? And what of those of us who desire our “freedom” apart from the Body? What is our plan of defense when the evil one comes, for indeed he is hungry and like a lion is “seeking someone to devour” (1 Pet. 5:80).
God in his providence has provided many lessons in nature. May this be one that encourages us in the Church to live in unity. Defending. Rescuing. Permitting ourselves to be rescued. Whether strong, weak, old, young.
In centuries past and for centuries to come.
Watch the video: