“But now there was this little fox, weaving and leaping in a meadow of green-beyond-green, among countless bright hued butterflies on a perfect summer’s day. It wasn’t after food. It wasn’t after shelter. What it did, it did for joy’s own sake—there could be no doubt. And would an automaton with no soul do such a thing? Would an insentient being desire to play? All that activity would burn calories, and among wild creatures which must strive for every morsel of food, energy was hard won and precious. Wild creatures must hide, for there is always some other creature that would prey upon them if opportunity presented. If this little fox were merely an automaton with no real emotional life, no appreciation of beauty, no dreams, no joy . . . then why was it risking no cover and burning energy to play in a meadow of flowers and butterflies?
“And it was there in that moment I began to question all I thought I knew of the natural world, all that priests and science alike had taught me. It was, so many years ago, a transformational moment for me. I was barely more than a child, but it was like in that moment I woke up inside. I had loved the natural world before, but as I realized its creatures were so deep, so profound, so full of life and spirit and joy, it was like Nature took on color and marvel, depth and mystery, and I knew of a sudden that that little fox down there was my brother or sister in all of life’s wonders and perils. And if the fox, then perhaps all the creatures that shared this world were likewise. Even the slow green spirits of trees were my kith and kin, and the realization was so profound it brought laughter to my lips and tears to my eyes. That moment, I think, was the first time I ever touched the deep magic at the heart of the wild in a truly spiritual way. It was a gift of the Great Spirit. And though I did not know it at the time, because of that fox my life would be changed forever.”