I jumped on to the highway, accelerating to keep up with the speeds when a moving shape caught my eye. From out of the pasture along the side of the road, a young doe gingerly stepped out. I slowed the car down, hoping no one was following too closely behind. I know these gentle animals; they are skittish and nervous, and can without hesitation, fly right into an oncoming car. She started across. My windows were down and I could hear her hooves clipping along the road. As I watched, a van coming in the opposite direction headed straight towards her. I cringed. With a scratching of hooves on the road, she danced nervously, darting in random directions. Fortunately, the oncoming car slowed down in time to let our pretty lady cross, finally, in safety. I sighed with relief. She seemed to barely escape her disastrous fate. I was glad the outcome hadn't been inevitable.
After a while, the path led me to a rocky ledge overlooking a pooled area in the river. I sat down, pulled out my notebook and lunch and stared into the slow currents of the water, gazing into the swirls and flow of its repeating patterns. As I ate, I noticed a few concentric circles forming on the water surface. I peered into the murky depths, trying to see their source. There had to be fish, probably trout of some kind, swimming beneath the surface. I stared so intently into the water, I was startled when a silvery form jumped out to snack on a bug, returning with a soft plop. I was watching for fish swimming and jumping, when I noticed an s-shaped disturbance across the water's surface. I sat still and mesmerized on my perch and spied a small nose sticking above the water, followed by an undulating rope-like body. A water snake of some kind! I watched until it disappeared into the grass on the opposite shore.
I was in awe. I had left the house so agitated and here, sitting quiet by the river, I felt opened up to miracles. I would have missed the bees and berries, smells and sounds, fish and snakes, had I not been still and quiet and watchful.
Soon, I noticed the heat was no longer on my shoulders. The dark clouds had finally grown together, choking out the sun. Sighing, I put away my wrappers and screwed the lid on my thermos. Somehow in this solitude, alone with nature, I felt cared for, a tender presence in my heart. I laughed a little at myself as I put a closing thought in my notebook: if only I had seen a deer walk out from the tall grasses of the shore to drink from the river! What a sign that would have been!
I lifted my small pack to my back and headed back towards my car. Again, for the third time that day, a movement caught my eye. On the opposite side of the river, a tawny shape walked out from the grasses--not just a deer, but a lovely buck. He stared at me as I raised my camera to snap his majestic image. Then, slowly, in no hurry, he made his way across the river. My heart felt truly felt gifted and hugged.
Later that same day, after I was home and still glowing from the beauty of my morning, my son's chemotherapy doctor called and we set up his first treatment appointment. When I turned on my computer shortly after, I received a rejection on a freelance job I had applied for. In short, life hit again.
Sometimes I feel like that sweet doe trying to skitter my way across life's highway, avoiding the onslaught of impending disaster, barely escaping collisions with fate or like my sun is being crowded out by an impending storm. But my time at the park reminded me there are gifts when we have given up hope for them and miracles in the ordinary if we are still enough to see them.