A small brook wanders through the woods. I step across a bridge that crosses the brook, look down and feel a calmness take over. I imagine falling asleep later in the evening to the sound of the churning water. I could stay and watch the brook forever, but I need to catch up with my friends, they’ll be waiting for me.
I go only a few paces and I see something move in the distance. My senses have been dulled living so long in suburbia, but I have a feeling that I have a few woodland friends. I stop and watch and, sure enough, in the distance, a white fluffy tail jumps across the trail.
I look closer and I see not one, but five deer in the woods. A couple look back at me and then they go back to eating and playing in the woods.
Yes, I wrote that correctly, I swear to God they were playing. One would do a little jump, another would lower its head and then buck up its legs, as if to say, “I’m bigger than you.” They looked happy and downright peaceful. I know that sounds crazy. Do deer even have emotions?
I tried to get closer. I would take a step and then stop, wait a minute or two, and then take another step and then stop. This went on for ten to fifteen minutes, but they were onto me. In one swift move, they jumped back to danger mode and sprinted deeper into the woods. I stayed still, willing them to come back, but they were gone.
I lost sight of the deer, but they were most certainly not forgotten.
Getting a little perspective
I marveled for a few minutes at my newfound friends and started back-up again, making my way up the trail. The trail climbed up a hill and I found that it was steeper than I remembered. I stopped to catch my breath and say a prayer of thanksgiving. Good idea, right?
My thoughts race a million miles a minute. The reality of the situation hits me like a brick: I worry and stress over material things, but, standing in the middle of the woods, it dawns on me how blessed I am.
I have three wonderful children, two of them now grown and on their own and making something of their lives in the Armed Forces and the Peace Corps. I have a third son who carries himself with the grace and intelligence of a 22-year-old. They are my pride and joy.
If I stopped there, I would be a rich man.
But I haven’t mentioned, my beautiful wife, who has stayed by my side for two decades plus. I pull out my phone to text her and I’m reminded once again that she’s the one encouraging me to take time for myself. I put the phone back in my pocket. I want to honor her request, but it hits me how I am blessed I am. I don’t deserve her and yet she has chosen to be with me.
Thank you, thank you, thank you
I say a prayer of thanksgiving to God for blessing me and forgiving me of my many faults. I think of the many times I’ve gotten angry over silly things and forgotten about the poor and the needy. I think too of how I’ve failed to carry my cross and follow him.
I start to get overwhelmed with how I should really skip Go and not collect $200 and go straight to Hell and I remember what a wise friend said to me recently. He reminded me that God loves us no matter our sins. He stretches out his long arms and embraces us.
I get an image of Jesus embracing my imperfect self and I feel like I’m on Cloud Nine. I could go up, up, up in the air like a balloon and fly away to Neverland. I break out into a smile. To the hidden onlooker, I must look like I’ve lost my mind.
My peace be with you
I get myself back under control and I continue on the trail. In no time, I’m near the top now and can see my friends down below near a clearing. They wave to me and I wave back. Before I head off to them, I look once more back down the trail and I see the deer again. They’ve returned to wave me goodbye. I stare at them, they stare back, and we part once more. I feel refreshed and at peace.
Oh life is crazy, but, maybe, that’s a good thing.