Our Sobering Reality: The Heat of Hunting Season

by Alexandra Green

The smelling salts of life

their untold savagery

hell-bent suffering

that neither slumbers

nor sleeps in the night

who can withstand—

stand up to the night

but the consistent and

timely light of the Son.

In my experience and through my observation how we engage (or disengage) the reality of death impacts the way we engage life. Death is both a curse and a gateway that God has chosen to use to bring humanity into eternity (eternal glory and eternal damnation). Death was a curse given to Adam in Genesis 3:19 because of his choice to eat of the forbidden fruit. But for Christians “death is gain.” After we die we reap the ultimate fruit of our labor and that is to be face to face with Jesus. These poems and this accompanying expose is not a theological exposition on the purpose of death, but rather my attempt in creating a space to think about how our understanding of death informs the way we think about our purpose in creation.

Becoming aware of life’s fragility can fuel a sense of urgency, or it elicits a heart of fear that is always seeking to persevere itself. These are not the only two postures a person can have towards death and it is not the goal of this exposition to decipher how we relate to death, but these two postures are the main themes that brought each poem to life. The main theme in “Our Sobering Reality” is the urgency of life, while that of “The Heat of Hunting Season” is a theme of preservation. I want to help demystify the fear that is associated with dying, not to take away the fear, but to reorient it back to truth and provide courage. At a timely moment in my life I was encouraged to face death head on. To allow my mind to wander towards the inevitable and then to allow God’s Word to speak truth to any fears I have associated with it. I believe that Satan has lost, and that Jesus has defeated death, but I also am very aware that people are dying. And it is this closer reality of death that I continue to grapple with. In grappling with it I have come to see God’s heart in the midst of death’s harrowing reality. God too grieves for this world, but his grief isn’t paralyzing, it is generative. No matter how hopeless life appears. No matter how real death is, it has no hold on God and how he is making all things new. In fact, in his infinite wisdom, he has chosen to use death as well as other forms of suffering to help usher the world towards perfection.

Scripture teaches that we become who we are to become through suffering (Hebrews 12, Romans 8:17 Matthew 10:16-24). By learning how to use moments of suffering we learn how to exercise an anticipatory patience. Our hearts are wired to crave goodness and peace. There are only pockets of goodness and peace on this side of eternity and these are demonstrated when people act out the fruit of the Spirit. “The Heat of Hunting Season” was almost titled “The Heat of Life”. This heat that I mention is suffering, a synonym that is used in Scripture (hell, the furnace in Daniel 3). Even as those who have been redeemed, our sin can distort godly pursuits of goodness and peace into sinful, self-serving pursuits. We pursue goodness and peace for our own comfort in this life and not really for the benefit of everyone (Gal 5:13-15). We seek to build our own kingdoms and in doing this we end up harboring God’s goodness instead of allowing it to overflow. Our fears prevent us from living generative lives, but instead put us in a constant state of preservation—always trying to protect ourselves, our wealth, our status—“The Heat of Hunting Season” images this act of preservation through the imagery of a huntress in nature.

God does not say why he allows suffering in his world, and without carefully reading Scripture it is easy to see suffering as a punishment for sin. If that were true then Jesus’ death on the cross would have been for nothing. What can be learned in Hebrews 12 and subsequent verses is that suffering is not a punishment, but an opportunity for us to learn how to depend on and to desire Christ. Our suffering gives us an opportunity to trust God’s goodness more than we trust whatever fickle comfort we receive from the world. It is an exercise of wisdom to live expectant of suffering, but to be innocent, or perhaps a better word would be refined; refined in the way we allow suffering to permeate our thoughts (Mathew 10:16). This refined or innocent demeanor is an act of mental reorientation—reorienting our thoughts back to what is true: that despite how things look, God is actively working to redeem his world, and it is our perception and furthermore our interpretation of the world that is detached from truth, and not God who is detached from us.

We struggle to believe this because life is disjointed. There is always something that disrupts how we locate ourselves in the world, such as losing a loved one, or even something less dramatic like moving. Moving forces a person to re-envision who they are within the context of a new space, and it forces them to let go of how the former space validated their identity. Losing someone ruptures how a person relates to the world now that a particular person is no longer living. There are many things that happen that disconnect us from our identity. Having to face death is one of those things and by rightly positioning our minds to think well about death we will be able to practice living a courageous life. Courage comes from knowing that our identity is being sustained despite the ruptures of life around us. Our identity is sustained because Jesus has conquered the grave. If Jesus has conquered life’s ultimate rupture then we can trust that he will sustain our identity even through smaller life changes. In seeing life, and death, through the sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross we gain freedom and we are enabled to live full lives that are unbound by fear. So even though the circumstances of our lives are transient our joy is not because the width and the breadth of our joy— the fullness of joy—is found in Jesus (Psalm 16:11, Philippians 4:11-13).

Part of how our joy is displayed is through our creations, joy begets generosity (2 Cor. 8:2). Humanity was created to be maestros of creation, made to orchestrate the choir of creation to sing the praises of God for the flourishing of all created things. Death, being the parasite that it is, can only suck all life and consume all praise. And if we cave into its parasitic nature it will paralyze us and prevent us from risking our lives for the sake of the cross. This risk doesn’t need to be something that will put anyone in the grave, although hopefully our faith in Christ prepares us for that, but risking our lives also looks like making decisions that further a gospel-centered flourishing for all people and not just making decisions for our own security. Being unwilling to die even a metaphorical death prevents us from doing what we were created to do and who we were created for. Metaphorically dying means to die in all the ways we try to live apart from God, i.e. when we use the world’s knowledge to help us determine morality instead of God’s Word or when we make decisions that seem to value our personal success and comfort over supporting others. “Our Sobering Reality” was written to remind us of how experiencing death is a sort of stimulus that brings us back to reality. Even metaphorically, dying to ourselves every day reminds us how our lives, no matter how delusional we tend to live them, do not belong to us. We do not exist for ourselves. God is our only good and only through his Son there is life. Without Jesus’ presence in our life, life in the truest sense cannot be experienced. So, even while alive there is a type of death that is imitated; living life averse to God is to live aligned with death. Our vocation on earth is to love and enjoy God, and to perfectly embody His character so that we may aid in the flourishing of all creation. To have any other job is to be working for and towards the grave. If we are not motivated to live for, through, and because of Christ then all we can do is preserve what is dying (1 John 2:15-17). Constantly trying to take more from the earth than what it can sustain to give (Romans 6:23, John 3:16-17, 36).

When Jesus returns He will defeat the final enemy that is death (1 Cor. 15:26), but until then we must exercise an anticipatory patience, similar to how we wait for the arrival of a baby, gestating inside the womb of its mother, becoming more and more like what it is (1 John 3:2). Let it be the eager expectation and hope of all Christians to be unashamed and full of courage, in life and in death, to be true images of Jesus’ glory.

bird, by bird

the world is becoming empty

the barren Mother Earth

soon will beget

a vacant sky


sprouting from her soil

all that once flew high

thirst beneath the ground

what was once many

becomes one

my desert soul

withers away

sand trickles down

within my hourglass

it makes no difference, the time I have

left if in the end it’s all borrowed

and I’ve spent it all in a barrow

there’s no hope for me

no saving grace

I’ve been dead all my days

but who is better off?

the huntress or the hunted

when her life is spent filling

a bottomless pit

she hunts

feeding something that is never

full because what she kills

doesn’t last

she has no power

no life to give

she must take to preserve

emptying the world

out of desperation to maintain

but then here comes the storm — its

rain just as desirous

to replenish

all that has been taken

a surge of unsanctioned

affection its authority, its


it fills

we drink, guzzle, drown —in its life