I almost hit a deer this week. I was driving down our neighborhood road after an Oktoberfest celebration at church when the deer plunged in front of the car. When it first ran out, I thought it was a jogger, then a really big dog. Then I caught a glimpse of antlers – a young buck. I slammed on the brakes, swerved a little, and watched the silent animal disappear over the hill into the drainage pond that he was no doubt seeking.
I felt as though I’d just seen a falling star. This is only the second deer I’ve ever seen in my neighborhood. It had come from a dense plot of houses. Was he eating someone’s flowers? Taking a stroll on the sidewalk?
“You okay, mommy?” my toddler called.
“Yes!” I told her. “We almost hit a deer.”
“Where?” She twisted, wanting only to see this rare animal.
“It’s gone,” I told her.
Almost everyone in rural areas has a story about a deer-strike or a near-miss. How many times have I white-knuckled my way on curving country roads at night, freezing internally at the glint of eyes?
Yet even our city lifestyle does not guarantee that we will not meet a deer. Freak things happen. People hit deer even in urban areas. Mountain lions attack people in parks. Recent disasters remind us that no one is immune from natural disasters like floods or fires.
Yet we forget that these are possibilities, instead worrying about schools or work stress or the many other mundane mosquitoes that suck our life blood. In our bubble of computers and Facebook, we distance the possibility of these tragedies.
I say this not to inspire a life of constant fear and vigilance, but to encourage us to minimize those vampiric details. Life is a precious gift best held gently; we must treasure our days and loved ones because there are no guarantees. Why do we let little issues steal our joy? We are alive!
Mixed with the gratitude at having missed death (at least for the deer) was delight with the serendipity of the experience, this brief moment of magic, a glimpse of something extraordinary.