Every weeknight, my Sisters and I eat dinner as a community. Depending upon the happenings of the day and the energy levels of those present, dinner talk can range from the outrageously hilarious to an unparalleled banality.
One evening this week, the dinner talk resulted in a serendipitous, albeit sad insight for me. Somewhere between the peas and carrots and the sugar cookies, one of my animal-loving Sisters noted that on the prior day she had seen a small deer on our grounds. Her eyes lit up as she spoke fondly of the wonder of its beauty. Another Sister postulated that the deer come out of their wooded surroundings when they are hungry due to nature’s barrenness at this time of year. Then the acceptability of deer-hunting was raised. One Sister authoritatively responded that this was a positive activity because the population had “grown too large” and it “needed thinning out.” To my surprise, the animal lover chimed in, “yeah, they have no predators anymore. There are too many of them now.” Then I heard, “Soon there will be more of them than us,” as if that would be an unthinkable predicament.
The dinner talk droned on like white noise as I contemplated if it were ever acceptable to insert predatory behavior where there is none. Is it okay to thin out a growing population merely to ensure that there are more of us than they? Why couldn’t we make room for something so beautiful?
It occurred to me that Mary, when nine months pregnant, traveled with Joseph to Bethlehem because of a Roman requirement that all people register in their own towns. En route, Mary went into labor. Perceiving there would be less for them, those in the comfortable, safe shelter of the inn refused to make room. Consequently, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was born in the filth and squalor of a barn because the mighty needed to put a growing nati