The wildebeest were locking horns … smack! I could hear the clash of their heads as they butted each other over the loud hum of my vehicle engine. They stopped, suddenly realizing they were being watched. The one that looked up and saw me first, turned around and walked away from his horn locking activity. The other one looked up at me and proceeded to chew on the grass … unconcerned.
I moved on, realizing the show was over. The wildebeest were everywhere, and in the haze of dust that filled the hot afternoon, I could see that there was no patch of grass that did not have a wildebeest on it for as far as the eye could see. Most were runting furiously as they decimated the tall elephant grass and reduced it to short stubs just 1 inch above ground. Others simply rounded up the troops and kept them in line, while still others lazed in the tall grass.
Another pair were locking horns further ahead and I thought I would catch up with them and take a shot… but the fight ended as rapidly as it had begun. I did not get to them in time. I could not even tell which pair I had seen locking horns any more… they were now running about the Garden as if they were simply exercising. I drove on slowly, happily filming as much as I could, but I did not see any more fights between wildebeest.
I suddenly realized that I was in the presence of hundreds of thousands of wildebeest males in the middle of the rutting season, competing for the females, and all I had seen in the form of fights were 2 fleeting head-butting bouts that lasted no more than a few seconds. Better yet, the antagonists seemed to run along as friends immediately after that… were they really fighting? Or did they just forget the conflict?
It dawned on me how much harder it is for us human beings to get out of a conflict once we get into it. Our ability to feel and remember painful events, seems to keep us locked in a tight embrace of conflict for a long time… unless we work hard against it. In fact we sometimes go so far as to harbor this conflict inside us so bitterly that we let it fester into an explosive mixture of emotions that we may eventually not be able to control or fathom.
Yet, God teaches to love our neighbors as ourselves. How can we do this if we don’t forget the conflict… or the pain? From watching the wildebeest, I realized that in creating animals, God has given us an opportunity to see what peace there could be – if we forgive and forget.
Yes, here I was witnessing God’s message of peace… the vision of millions of wildebeest who travel the small circle of Serengeti-Mara year in, year out, living in peace, by having the ability to forgive, because they simply forget. Here I was having a chance to learn what it would be like to live in peace with all around me, and thinking…it could work for us too if we tried it…couldn’t it? After all, this is Christ’s teaching, is it not?
Copyright © 2011, Ophelia Swai. All Rights Reserved.