Close Encounter of a Mysterious Kind

Walking down the road through a stretch of woods in our neighborhood, my dog Anna and I startled a trio of deer drinking water from a creek. Two of them ran away from us into the woods. But one, a young buck, was more curious and maybe even more confrontational than frightened. 

He came right to the edge of the woods, within about ten feet of us, and the three of us just stood there watching each other for the longest time. 

The brave buck pranced and stomped, bowing his head to show us his fuzzy antlers, until it was all I could do to keep from laughing out loud. I think he was showing off for his female companions. Anna seemed completely bored with it all, totally unimpressed, not even remotely curious. 

Finally, the buck tired of us and went back to find his playmates. When we turned around to go home, he and a young doe were chasing each other at top speed through the woods. The buck raced right across the road in front of us, but the doe stopped at the edge of the road. We stopped, too, and she looked at us as if to ask, "Friend or foe?" Gingerly, she walked across the road, then raced ahead through the woods to catch her friend.

It's hard to describe my feelings of wonder and gratitude and pure joy to be able to witness this playful scene. It was sort of like being let in on a great secret.

But we weren't the only ones on the road that day. There was a jogger, focused and plugged in, who never even looked up, and several people in cars drove right by without slowing down or looking in our direction. They missed the whole thing.

How many times throughout the day are we gifted with moments of pure joy that we totally miss? How often are we focused on the task at hand, or worried about what has been or what might be, or racing to get to the next thing, or filling our lives with so much noise and chatter that we fail to see what is being offered to us in the moment?

I believe I was granted the privilege of intimacy with those deer because I stopped, I looked, and I listened. God will grant us the same privilege when we offer that same level of attentiveness. Pure joy.

"Be still and know that I am God." --Psalm 46:10