October 17, 2013
I was listening to Audrey Assad’s latest album recently when I heard the words that sparked a hunt in my heart:
“And the foxes in the vineyard will not steal my joy.”
While Audrey is one of the most profound lyricists of our generation, I was haunted by that line, the way that poetry of the Old Testament hangs in the air and I am often left in awe of its beauty. I knew that this line had to be Scripture.
I opened up my Bible and sure enough, there are a number of times that our furry little foes pop up in the entire breadth of the canon. Most of them are in the Old Testament, which is where Audrey’s reference comes from. It’s in Song of Solomon, where the writer admonishes, “Catch the little foxes that spoil the vineyards” (2:15).
Catching foxes is a curious turn of phrase. And one that resonates with me because I work in Hamilton, Massachusetts, just a few miles from campus at a historic Hunt Club. Now, being from California, where being a fox might even be a good thing, the New England culture has been mostly new for me. I’ve never seen a lacrosse game, I’ve never known anyone on a rowing team. And until I started working at the Club, I’d never seen polo played before unless it involved Marco in the swimming pool.
The logo at the Club is a simple, yet profound one. It’s the image of a fox with a horn above it. It’s on the Club flag that flies over the clubhouse and on the divot repair tools on the golf course, and it’s embroidered on every staff shirt just above the heart. Because of how long I’ve worked at the club and because we get new shirts every year, I’ve got more shirts and jackets and hats and even belts with that logo than most people I know.
We wear the logo of the huntsman. This history dates back to the late 1800s when fox hunting was all the rage, and while we do not actually hunt foxes today (but rather the more humane fox scent), it is a tradition. I walk up the hill to work in the little golf shop at the Club as up to a dozen gigantic horses and nearly 40 hunting hounds weave along the bridle paths.
In an effort to understand Audrey and to get a better feel for the historical sport, I did a little research into the origins of fox hunting. Originally, it was a form of pest-control. Foxes have been known in literature and society for hundreds of years as sneaky, thieving creatures. Because they used to come to farms and kill chickens or steal food, farmers started to hunt them. Now, years later, we still honor the tradition of the hunt.
Gordon-Conwell is situated on a hill that was once owned by a member of the Club and is a part of the historic route that the hunters used to take. Every year, they take a ride with the hounds through our Hamilton campus. Children who live here come to see them go by as the riders wave. As they passed through this year, I couldn’t help but take notice of the incredible spiritual implications.
Foxes come to thieve and destroy. Jesus called Herod a fox, knowing that he was deceptive. And in Song of Solomon, chasing away the foxes was an active form of defending the vineyard. How fitting it is that our campus, where we defend the faith and fight against heresy and deception, is on the grounds of the historic hunt. How interesting it is that nearly every day, I put on the logo of the huntsman over my heart.
As we go about our studies, we not only increase in knowledge of the truth, but we are given the task of seeking out and chasing away the foxes—those things that get a foothold and ruin our lives, our marriages, our friendships, our trust in God. We are not simply students. We are the huntsman, still defending ourselves and chasing away foxes on this traditional plot of hunting ground.
For they will not steal our joy.
Melissa Zaldivar is an MATH student from California. She loves golf, theology, Jewish holidays, people falling in love, Jonathan Edwards, chocolate chip cookies, her adorable niece and telling stories. When she's not filming and photographing weddings, you can find her reading news articles, watching Parks and Recreation or playing Super Smash Bros.
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