What’s With The Deer?

    Deer photo by Kristian

    My dad is an introvert, and he is the loveliest kind of introvert there is.  He is not an insecure introvert or an off-in-another-world introvert or an I-can’t-stand-people-everybody-get-away-from-me introvert.  He is a fully present, quietly observing introvert.  Always paying attention and soaking up the details that others are quickly speeding past.

    That is why he is so good at spotting deer.

    Countless times throughout my childhood, we would be driving on some gently winding road and he would sporadically exclaim, “Oh, look!  A deer!”  I would whip my head in whichever direction he was pointing and search with eager eyes, but I would never see the deer in time.  Never.

    I supposed that when I reached my sixteenth birthday and I was in charge of driving the car, maybe then I wouldn’t always be so distracted and maybe then I would begin to see the deer.  But sixteen came and went and so did seventeen and I just never, ever saw a deer while driving.  Not once.  The Illinois Whitetail Deer was a mysterious and elusive mistress, indeed.

    This four-legged, sandy-furred, wide-eyed creature began to hold a lot of significance for me, and I anticipated that the first time I saw a deer, it would be momentous.  As a slightly theatrical teenager, I would talk about it at Bible studies and in the quiet moments of sleepovers, dreaming about what a meaningful moment it would be between me and the Lord.  He must be holding out on me, keeping the deer from crossing my path, I would think, in order to teach me a very important lesson or reveal a very hidden truth.

    I would try to imagine how I would feel when I finally saw this deer that I had waited so many years for.  Would it happen in a moment of brokenness, to remind me that God is there?  Would it come as a sign to show me something I was supposed to do?  Would it hold some key or some answer to a question I was pondering?  I was nothing if not eager.

    {You know where this is going.}

    One evening while driving home from a friend’s house, it finally happened.  Zipping along down a country road, I spotted her in my periphery for just a split second before passing her.  I blinked my eyes and stared forward, frowning and thinking, was that it?  Surely there had to be something more than just a flash of tan in the corner of my headlight.  I turned into the nearest driveway, swung my car around, and pulled over on the side of the road, my headlights shining on the doe.

    She stood in the tall weeds near a broken fence, a symbol of strength, courage, faith, and beauty.  I watched her quietly and do you know what I felt?

     

    Nothing.

     

    There I sat in the summer air, with my engine turned off, my radio turned down, trying to conjure up some sense of awe or some feeling of reverence or at least some tears.

    And the deer just stood there.  Chewing a clump of grass and gazing nonchalantly at something in the distance.

    She and I stayed that way for about four minutes, until I finally got bored watching this unimpressed animal eating her dinner.  Turning my car around to drive home, I felt puzzled, mildly disappointed, and slightly sheepish.  Was this what I had been waiting for?  Where was my moment?  Where was the fanfare?

    Over time, I grew up a little bit, and I became okay with the notion that maybe there was importance in my seeing that deer.  Even if I didn’t feel it at the time.  Even if I never figured out exactly what the importance was.  Maybe something happened in another realm in that moment with the deer, or maybe stopping my car for those four minutes caused me to avoid an unforeseeable automobile accident, or maybe it was all just so I could have a story to tell to you.

    Either way, my confusion and perplexity eventually subsided, and since that night not only have I seen many more deer, but I have also come to realize this:  sometimes – dare I say, often – beauty and significance and meaning emerge out of normalcy.  If your life were a movie, sometimes the most pinnacle moments would happen without an impressive orchestra of grandiose background music.  Sometimes there is no fanfare.  Even when you’re eager to find significance and even when your eyes are wide open to it, sometimes you sit quietly in your car and the deer just stands there chomping alfalfa.

    That’s why I chose a deer as the logo for Consider Grace.  This website, with my art and my music and my words, is all about finding substance in the monotonous.  It is about searching for relevance in everyday things, and it is about being okay with those times when searching and anticipation and eagerness and zeal lead us to unexpected outcomes.  When life appears as a trivial flash of tan in the headlights.


     

    photo by Kristian Lynae Irey

     

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