The Gentleness of Deer

The cry…it was a hurting cry, a sound I had not often heard coming from a wild animal. Hearing it went straight to my heart, stirring up emotions I didn’t know were buried.  And so I followed the wild one’s cry, hoping to find it, yet dreading to know where it would take me.

I was walking beneath a canopy of Colorado’s late-summer trees, the kind that fall heavy over your head when you walk, the kind that slowly begin to turn color even though autumn hadn’t yet knocked. The river tumbled below me like it always did, rushing over boulders and smaller rocks that had been in the riverbed for years.  The morning sun had risen and the reflection coming from the river was brilliant, almost blinding.  I peered down the river and watched as geese flew, low, and landed in a quiet spot where the water wasn’t swift.  Opposite the river from me stood a doe, not quite hidden in the willows.  Above me, white clouds puffed and the mountains were blanketed with green.  Everything seemed serene until, again, the screaming cry pierced the air.

Quickening my pace, I followed the cry. For some reason this primal sound found its way into my heart and pierced it, hard.  I kept walking.  By now I wondered how the cry could become more akin to a scream, but it had and I couldn’t get it out of my ears, my heart, my soul.  I continued walking toward the cry, and maybe five minutes later I found what captured me.

It was a deer. She stood on a corner of two paved roads, but even though this was a fairly quiet area, it was not safe enough.  At the doe’s feet was her baby, a fawn probably only a few weeks old.  It looked like it had been hit by a car, and the mother was in pain, because her baby was gone.  She stood solid by the fawn, and when she saw me our eyes locked.  She let out a cry so deep and piercing and primal that it rocketed farther into me.  My eyes became wet but I held back tears.

I wanted to run to her, but she was a wild animal. I wanted to let her know I was sorry, but there was nothing I could do.

And the other part of me said how crazy I was, because this was an animal, not a person, and you can’t even compare such deaths!

For some reason, the mother and baby stayed with me all day in my heart. That evening, when I returned to where the fawn had been, it had been removed.  I thought I saw its mother a few hundred feet away, but I wasn’t sure.  I wondered if she was coming to check on it, or if she was having a hard time letting it go, or was I the crazy one?

The sun began to set and I walked, quickly, along a path parallel to the river. The river’s sound was soothing, but not soothing enough.  I kept walking, winding my way through the trees as birds sang and geese flew to the river’s edge.  It didn’t bother me that night was setting in, because I had been here a hundred times and knew every twist and turn of this path.  Nature surrounded me, I was in a beautiful area, yet my heart was unsettled and numb.

Then, I saw them.

A group of maybe fifteen deer were nestled by the river’s edge. Some were sitting, some were standing, some were grazing.  The moon lit up everything, so it was more like day than anything else.

I stopped walking.

I simply looked at the deer, because they were doing what deer do…they were being deer. Their survival was primal, and here they had water and their food, everything they needed.  They were together, and for a brief moment I wondered if the mother deer who lost her baby was in the center of them.  I like to believe she was.

Strangely, or maybe not so strangely, my heart felt a bit of comfort.

This was how it should be, with the deer by the water and beneath Colorado’s trees.

These beautiful creatures were put here on earth — I believe — for different reasons, but at this very moment the reason for me was to learn a lesson from them…so I watched them for a few more minutes as my heart swelled, and I thanked God for this beautiful day. The deer were content because they were living in the moment, because that’s what animals do…and at this moment they had everything they needed, and were right where they needed to be.

Quietly, I left these magnificent creatures and the moon was my flashlight that night as I made my way back to where I was staying.

Nature and God entwined my heart with vine-like strength and peace fluttered in my heart.

Live in the moment, that’s what I heard. A few deer told me this on that late summer’s evening.

The moon was really pretty that night, and the river was brilliant. I stood looking at the river for a few minutes, and I saw a fish jump.

I just let it all sink in. The river, the moon, the deer.

God is good.










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