Sunday, May 18, 2008

Deer in the Headlights

We drove to the hill country this weekend for a "working retreat" related to my husband's law practice. We left late Thursday night because of our youngest son's baseball game. Thus at 11 p.m., as we were driving through the property leading up to the retreat center, I witnessed that phenomenon known as "deer in the headlights." I remember someone telling me once who lived in this area how annoying the resident deer could be. It seems the deer are "domesticated" to the point that every night, after venturing out of the nearby thickets, they wreak havoc and carnage on the flowers, trees and shrubs planted in everyone's yards.

The deer we caught in the headlights seemed to feel little concern for our presence. In fact, I think they appreciated the extra light while they stripped that last tree clean. The next morning, as I contemplated breakfast on the balcony, I saw another deer in the woods below me. She looked up, wiggled her tail once or twice, then went back to her foraging.

Regardless of what the locals may think, I found the deer absolutely breath taking. What magnificent creatures in God's creation! As a matter of fact, this weekend was a feast for me of enjoying nature. The lake early in the morning. The wild flowers. The mourning doves, owls, sparrows, mockingbirds, cranes, hawks and grackles. I even saw a red bird that was different from anything I had ever seen before. And yes, the pesky deer. It was I who felt like the interloper; the unwelcome guest. But I did my best to drink it in and wonder, "Exactly how did God speak so many beautiful, distinct living creatures into existence?"

It seems my encounter with creation this weekend only served to whet my appetite, far from saturating it. My younger daughter and I walked our dogs this afternoon along the bayou and then we skipped over to a peaceful park, a wooded retreat, near our home. You can walk the trails of this park until you land in the middle. Whether you look up, down, left or right, you will suddenly find yourself asking, "Where did civilization go?" What a wonderful, secret place right here in the middle of the hustle and bustle of a large urban area. What a beautiful reminder of God, always near, always present, always waiting to be found.

As I experience God through these nature encounters, I find it is I who feel like the deer caught in the headlights. I am hypnotized, mesmerized. I cannot look away. And that is how it should be as we experience those accidental pockets of spiritual ecstasy in the pursuit of everyday life.

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