The power to speak
“An animal’s eyes have the power to speak a great language.” — Martin Buber
On a highway near Skagway, Alaska, we noticed a few people stopped alongside the road and quickly found what attracted their attention: a baby bear had ambled right up to the guard rail, looking at everyone with friendly curiosity. It was raining lightly as I took several photos of one of the cutest animals I had ever seen in the wild (and only later realized that this might have been fatal if an angry Mama Bear had come after me).
Anyone whose household includes an animal (or two or three or more) is well aware of their ability to communicate without words. Those who aren’t familiar with animals may think us overly sentimental, or accuse us of anthropomorphism when we insist our animals talk to us with their eyes and mannerisms. But to ascribe the ability to communicate to an animal is not to equate it with a human. Indeed, some animals may achieve a higher rate of successful communication with each other than their human counterparts achieve among their peers!
In any case, I fail to understand how anyone could look into an animal’s eyes and not see a form of intelligence behind them. From the sophisticated, almost disdainful glances of gorillas or lions at the zoo, to the watchful awareness of a rabbit or deer deciding exactly how close it will let me come before it flees, animals say many things with their eyes. Whether or not we interpret them correctly is a different matter.
I wish for you many delightful (and safe) encounters with animals of all kinds!