Readers of this blog last summer may recall that the Foxes which make their home in the garden of the Vicarage at St Mary-at-Latton, Harlow, featured in some of the postings. Mama Fox has now returned with a new partner and very shortly we expect to see the little ones cavorting in their summer playground.
No doubt we shall include photos on the blog. Meanwhile, anticipation got me thinking about Foxes.
A little bit about the Fox.
It must be said that the Fox doesn’t get a good press in The Bible. References are mainly derogatory. Of the two references made by Jesus, one compares the puppet King Herod to a fox – Luke 13:32 – “Go tell that Fox…”. The other reference, of course, in Luke 9:58 when Jesus spoke of the fox having a hole in the ground, whereas he nowhere to lay his head. In Matthew 8, where Jesus used the same words, it was part of a response to a Scribe who wanted to follow Jesus wherever he would go. Jesus warned him that following as a disciple would mean giving up all the comforts and security of his life. Here the fox is used as an illustration rather than a negative comment.
Later views of the Fox varied. In much of Europe the fox was thought to be a sly, cunning, crafty and generally up to no good. In the Far East, the fox was regarded as tricky and deceitful.
St. Francis, with his deep love of the animal world, was interested in the welfare and safety of all creatures and wasn’t specifically concerned for the fox.
It was the Irish Christian church, which we now refer to as Celtic, who had favourable stories about foxes. They referred to the fox as being sometimes naughty but on the whole capable of reform.
St. Cieran, for example, founded a monastery where all the brothers were animals – so legend has it. He believed that all could be reformed, ever Brother Fox and Brother Badger! Some might return to their old ways but could be brought back to the straight and narrow path.
This view is echoed in a conversation between the little Prince and the fox in Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s tale, ‘The Little Prince’*
“To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you, on your part, have no need of me. To you, I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world…”
But if you tame me, it will be as if the sun came to shine on my life . I shall know the sound of a step that will be different from all the others. Other steps send me hurrying back underneath the ground. Yours will call me, like music, out of my burrow. And then look: you see the grain-fields down yonder? I do not eat bread. Wheat is of no use to me. The wheat fields have nothing to say to me. And that is sad. But you have hair that is the colour of gold. Think how wonderful that will be when you have tamed me! The grain, which is also golden, will bring me back the thought of you. And I shall love to listen to the wind in the wheat…” The fox gazed at the little prince, for a long time. “Please, tame me!” he said.”
Whether the foxes-at-Latton can be ‘tamed’ remains to be seen, but certainly, Vicar Lynn will care for them.
Finally, many of you will know the book by Charlie MackesyThe Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse. *
It’s another way of meeting the Fox in a new and special way.
** The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’ is available in a number of editions
** The Boy, The Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy published by Ebury Press RRP. £16.99