This blog features reflections on current affairs through the lens of my Quaker faith and practice and offers not only analysis but a perspective on hope, renewal, and reconciliation - a “lift”, as I call it - during these stressful, chaotic times.
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I try to cultivate a daily sense of wonder and awe with life, and today I have just enjoyed a most memorable opportunity to do so.
Last evening before I went to bed I stepped outside and just off our back deck were the two big eyes and two big ears of a beautiful deer asleep in the grass just below us. I called Cathy to say we had a “guest,” and she came out to see as well. But the deer didn’t pay any attention and just stared back. I mentioned how impressed I was that she seemed so large.
At 6:30 this morning Cathy urgently called me to wake up. The deer had just minutes ago given birth right next to our deck only a few feet away. And then we quickly noticed there were twins! They were still wet but could already stand as they were getting licked clean. Soon they also were testing their little stick legs with an uncertain step or two. One was a little more unsteady while the other soon began to toddle off. I quickly named them Wobbly and Wander. (As it turned out, Wander did eventually disappear, and we did not see her, sadly, for the rest of the day. We did read on-line, however, that a mother deer will often place twins in separate spaces to assure the protection for at least one of them, and we hope Wander will appear again soon.)
Most of the rest of the morning and throughout the whole rest of the day we were able to closely observe the truly amazing process of instinctual mothering and baby’s response to learn to nurse and to follow the mother into the safety of the bushes. The doe licked for hours over every part of its body in what was obviously not only a cleansing process but one of tenderness and bonding. We went online and learned that an additional purpose for all the licking is to eradicate any hint of the smell of the blood to protect the baby from predators, as noted in the online article about the birth of a deer, I watched the mother eat her placenta, again to stave off sending birthing scents to predators. The combination of the sheer miracle of birthing and baby fawn’s sweet little face meant our heart was often in our throat in response to the tender intimacy and beauty of what we were so privileged to observe. We took turns as the morning went on to keep an eye on the baby and watch it disappear into the bushes or clamber out into the sun as it dried its little dotted fur.
While the baby slept camouflaged in the bushes and dappled sunlight, the mother deer slipped off for an hour or so at a time while she (unfortunately for our yard) helped herself to our roses and apple tree, among other treats. But we agreed that for today, of course, she needed all the food she could get, and she got a free pass. We were impressed she did not feel a need for constant vigilance but could trust that the baby would stay in place until she returned.
As is my wont, of course, I need to end my evening’s post by providing a larger context of meaning-making from the amazements and feelings of the day. I couldn’t help thinking about the names I gave to the twins, Wobble and Wander. Somehow those are also good descriptives for our lives today. Like the baby deer, we have just come through a kind of “birthing" process and now face a “wobbly” period of post-pandemic survival and avoidance of “predators.” And I feel we are, indeed, “wandering” around as we tentatively explore what we need to do to adapt to new economic, social and personal realities, Whether we have the necessary “instincts” to to help us successfully adapt, and whether we can find the necessary nurture and support that will protect us, remains the big question ahead of us in this vulnerable and precarious time.
Whatever may be ahead of us, I wish for all of us opportunities for daily awe and wonder. And although they may not be as memorable as watching the very first day of life of a baby fawn, my experience is that every day provides moments of true wonder and awe that in turn elicit such great gratitude for just being conscious and alive enough to notice and appreciate it all.
Blessings and peace,