Coyote…Cunning or Creative?

Posted by on August 3, 2011

I had a strange visitor last week.  I was sitting on my deck one still, warm morning, wrestling with some thoughts, jotting notes, when something made me lift my head. Not a noise, not a movement, but a knowing.  A nudge.

Look at me.

I was looking up into the trees, when a movement below caught my eye…

There she was, trotting through the underbrush – not 15 feet from me – moving without a sound. I slowly reached for my camera and as she came into the clearing, I snapped the photo. She was gone so quickly, had I not captured the image, I might have thought I imagined her. I’m not even sure she was aware of my presence.

I think we have a lot to learn from the world around us.  And certainly of late, I’ve been watching and learning…absorbing the lessons God’s creation has to teach me.  I’ve always had a healthy respect for coyotes.

A friend and I encountered one on a dark woods path one evening at dusk – we each stood frozen in awe, regarding one another for a few moments, until she leapt gracefully off the path and was gone. On another day, I found one dead in a leg trap and softly stroked the beautiful thick tail, feeling incredibly sad, like we’d lost something vital and important.

However, following a fatal attack in Cape Breton two years ago, I admit to feeling fear when I found signs on the trail behind our home.

And fear is an insidious thing. Not a thing I wish to be a slave to.

The forest is where I find my peace and contentment. This is where I go to think; where I flee when I’m feeling unsettled. I did not want to lose this. God did not place within me this fear – after all, he had brought me to this place, knowing how powerfully my soul responded to nature  –  so I knew I had to face it down.

“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.”
2 Timothy 1:7

The root of my fear was not of being attacked, but of being helpless…of not knowing what to do. So last winter, I read up on coyotes so I would understand them. The reality is that more people are attacked and injured by domestic pets than wild animals. I forced myself to once again walk alone, but I carried a walking stick. I cross-country skied and snowshoed as well, carrying protection.

Conquering fear isn’t easy – and still sometimes, it threatens to paralyze me –  but ungrounded fearful thoughts were keeping me from something I enjoyed. Gradually, I silenced them. Gradually, confidence returned.

I took back my joy.

Even fear has something to teach us.  There are two sides to everything. Shadow and light.

The enigmatic Coyote is the Creator or the Trickster in many native cultures. She is a teacher, a survivor, a creative thinker, symbolizing change, urging excellence…but she is also crafty, cunning, dangerous, ingenious…she has to be, to have adapted and survived…even thrived…in varied landscapes.  She came east from the prairies, having only arrived in the forests of the east coast in the 70s, continuing to prosper in spite of a bounty on her fur.  I can admire that kind of resilience and endurance. That kind of strength.

I now wonder…what if I had stood tall that morning?  Forced her head up?

Look at me...

I think, then, if we’d shared a glance, I might have known…is she to be revered for her creativity or feared for her cunning?

Today, what fear do you feel you need to conquer?

14 Valued Thoughts on Coyote…Cunning or Creative?

  1. Carol Steel

    Your photos of the coyote and of the ferny wood are so lovely. Thank you for sharing those. Your questions about fears we face are interesing and helpful, significant to note that most fear begins and ends inside ourselves. That is not to say that fear is easy to conquer.

    I do enjoy your blog.

  2. Lynda

    I will ponder the question, not sure of the answer. But I know this: you have an eye and a heart and a pen that does justice to creation.

  3. Misty

    That photo of the forest is the most beautiful shot I have seen in a long time. Green is my favorite color – especially in nature. I can see why you find peace there. Beautiful!

  4. Carolynn

    I love coyotes and wolves. It pains me deeply to know how they’ve been persecuted over the years. Fear has a way of making something small appear big & scary, when in fact, it’s just a shadow we’re running from.

    I’m fearful that I won’t sell my home soon and I’ll have to put my dream on the back burner for yet another winter season. I remind myself that all things will unfold, as they should, in the proper time. It’s not easy, this patience thing.

    P.S. Love the Timothy quote.

    • Deborah Carr

      Hi Carolynn…Here’s another…”But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.” Romans 8:25

      Many years ago, I took up cross-stitching to teach myself patience (I can see me yet, gritting my teeth, unraveling all those mistaken stitches). It worked, however that was just the beginning. I am now learning to wait. Wait. Wait.

      If your dream is put on hold for another winter season, then perhaps there is still work (or learning) left for you where you are.

  5. Old Jules

    I love your blog but it takes my dialup 20+ minutes to load it. I probably will have to space out my visits.

    I’m not able to think back over the decades to identify when and where my fears went away. Somewhere back there they just faded without me noticing and never came back. Maybe it was my daily gratitude affirmations. They had such a profound influence on other aspects of my life it could have happened then and I just didn’t notice because I was noticing too many bigger things changing.

    As for Brother Coyote, he’s smart, sometimes he’s dangerous to house pets, anything he sets his mind to. But usually not to anything having to do with people. I’ve got a few come in close to my cabin occasionally and we exchange yips before daybreak. Thus far they haven’t bothered my cats nor my free-ranging chickens.

    Which is a lot more than I can say about coons, possums and some predatory birds, along with a feral domestic cat or three.

    Nice blog. Thanks for sharing.

    • Deborah Carr

      Thanks for visiting, Old Jules…I enjoyed your exploits with the coon. Sorry about the dial-up thing. I do appreciate that you hung around and waited, though.

      I think when we choose to live in close proximity with the wild, we have to expect the wild will pass through on occasion. I welcomed the deer in my yard all winter, …so when one midnight marauder with the munchies came back to nibble my beanstalks and peas a few weeks ago, there really wasn’t much I could say. I’d rather lose a few beans than the chance to watch my wild friends. Of course, now, I’ve wrapped my plants, hoping to discourage her from more furtive foraging.

  6. Relyn

    You know, I had a crazy fear. I always hated, hated (Ok, really was afraid of) driving on very steep hills. I just knew that someday I would mess up or the car would break and we would roll backward. It took time and prayer and much practice, but I drive hills now with only a little breath holding and no real worry. I always say to myself, “God has not given us a spirit of fear. But, of power, love, and a sound mind.”

  7. Leslie

    Beautiful, thoughtful and informative post. As for fears, there are so many to conquer, aren’t there? I think that must be why the Bible contains so many verses about fear. I battle fear a lot, mostly, these days, because of my chronic illness. And when the body hurts or is ill, the mind often follows. It takes a great effort to turn my mind away from the physical symptoms and the fears they engender, to the Great Physician. (And it takes wisdom as well. Normally, a physical illness leads one to seek medical attention. In the case of chronic illness, the sufferer has to learn to judge when symptoms are bad enough, or else she would live her life in the emergency room!) Many mornings, I awake with fear. I hate that. I immediately need to seek God and put my life and my day into His hands, asking for help to face whatever that day brings. Many days turn out better than the morning portends, but I never know. I guess it’s a good lesson in dependence on God, but it isn’t an easy or a pleasant lesson.

    I often look to the animal world for comfort, because I see in them a trust in their Creator that I want to emulate.

    • Deborah Carr

      Oh Leslie, having the faith that God is right there, in each of those moments, suffering alongside and knowing (like no one else can know) what you feel, is something to cling to. I’m not sure how I would handle my fear-battles without the assurance and peace his presence brings to my life.

      I know so many who live with chronic illness and I have to say each one has become an incredible inspiration to me. When I see how my friends and acquaintances soldier on each day, doing battle with the many challenges that they face, I learn from their strength – and from their weakness. Chronic illness forces you to really live in each moment, doesn’t it? And that is a struggle for all of us. But the way you continue to see life is so beautiful…and the words you use to express your joy of life, in spite of it all, are prayers that touch all who read them.

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