Deer Tracks in the Snow
The other morning as I was walking over to Church, I spotted some deer tracks in the newly fallen snow in our back yard. They made me stop in my tracks. And they elicited an audible “aah!” from me as I bent over to study them more closely.
Although I live in a rural county that has lots of deer, I also live in Chardon, a small city of 5,100. I live in a neighborhood with sidewalks, stop signs, and steady traffic—not on the edge of some field or forest. So it always amazes me when I realize we have deer living in our midst. They are usually very illusive during the day, but at night (as the tracks reminded me) they freely roam our neighborhood.
The tracks told me there were several deer who came through our yard—perhaps three or four of them. If I were a skilled tracker I’d know for sure how many there were and even their approximate ages. They cut across our back yard, circled a small berry tree, and continued across the driveway into our neighbors’ back yards. No doubt they were looking for food. Deer are notoriously hungry in the winter—especially if there’s a blanket of snow. That’s why they resort to eating shrubbery or the ends of the branches of small delicate trees—much to the chagrin of their human owners. I’ve seen pictures of deer chewing even the bark off young trees. Many years ago at our provincial center, I saw two deer at night standing on their hind legs and nibbling the branches of several decorative trees in the courtyard. The memory of that sight still stirs my soul.
Two days after seeing the deer tracks I happened to be making apple strudel for a family get-together. In the late afternoon I carried the apple peelings and a snow shovel out into the back yard. I cleared the snow under that small tree until the green grass showed through. Then I strewed the apple peelings there. I don’t know if the deer ever got the peelings though, because it snowed again that night, concealing my treat for them.
Later I reflected on the deer tracks in the snow and came up with this little prayer:
Loving God, sometimes you are like the deer I know.
You are in our midst, but you are very illusive—especially during the day.
Sometimes I even forget you are with me,
until I see your tracks in the snow.
What are some of your tracks?
The laughter of a child, the aroma of strudel baking,
a phone call from an old friend, the haunting refrain of a favorite song,
a certain line from scripture, the smile from an elderly woman,
a good deed from a total stranger, a blazing sunset,
a deep feeling of gratitude, and (one of my favorites)
deer tracks in the snow.
Help me, my “Dear Deer God,” to be on the lookout for your tracks
wherever I may go. Amen.
Have you ever seen deer tracks in the snow?
What are some of “God’s tracks” in your life?
Sister, you are making me miss northern Ohio even more! Thank you for your reflection on the beauty of God’s creatures. This makes me even more incredulous that anyone can think of hunting these wonderful animals for sport:(
Dear Joan, Yes, despite our severe winter weather at times (as I type this, it’s 10 degrees outside my window, schools have been cancelled, the wind is howling, and the snow is being blown all around.) But there’s beauty everywhere, isn’t there? We just need the eyes to behold it. Thanks for writing, Joan! Sr. Melannie
I played golf yesterday on the silver course at the Air Force Academy here in Colorado Springs and there were deer tracks on the putting greens. Of course some of the putting greens were moved into the fairway because the actual putting service was covered with snow. There were tons of deer tracks and this is such an appropriate start to a new week, Thanks Sister!!! I’ve been reading your thoughts, reflections, and Living Faith (off and on for over 30 years).
Dear Jim, It amazes me that you are playing golf in Colorado in January! And that you play around the snow! What dedication! You inspire me to “play around” those things in life I might see as hindrances to “my game.” Thank you for your kind words about my writing too. Gratefully, Sr. Melannie
I love your reflection, Melannie. Gives me a new vision when I see the deer tracks around our property. The other day as we were driving to early morning liturgy I saw a deer sitting in the snow, bothered by no thing and looking straight ahead…as though at me. Made me wonder that day about praying…just being where I am…gazing, quiet, open to be seen by the one by whom I am known through and through.
Dear Dion, I loved your “definition” of prayer: “just being where I am…gazing…quiet…open.” Wow! That’s beautiful! Thanks, Dion! Melannie
Your little prayer is so true–teaching us to be grateful and to reflect on how God is with us even when we don’t always notice Him.
Dear Georgia, Yes, the name “Emmanuel” means precisely that: God-is-with-us. Sr. Melannie
I Love Sunflower Seeds!! I find myself “Sharing” on FB and emailing your weekly posts to friends, a few have signed up for your emails, isn’t that nice.. My sister is a SND and has given me a book of yours, with the dawn rejoicing, she gave it to me after we lost both our parents in the same year. I am not much of a book reader HOWEVER, I read this one from cover to cover and found it helpful (thank you Kathleen Ruddy).
I will continue as the Dreaded work week begins, to have your Sunflower Seeds emails to look foreward to, they make a big difference in my day and I hope it does the same for those I share it with.
Thank you for your uplifting thoughts, they help
Have a Great day,
Dear Bridget, Thank you for sharing my posts with your friends. Now I know who you are! Sister Kathleen is a great sister–in both senses of that word! I believe you or your relatives live(d) on Mulberry Road a few houses down from where my parents lived. Small world! Thank you again for your affirming words about my writing! Gratefully, Sr. Melannie
You are very welcome, and my inlaws are still living on Mulberry 88 and 83 years young, they just keep going and going.
It is funny, the older I become the smaller the world seems, well maybe because I rarely leave Geauga County, I have all I need right here. It is funny though. I panicked this week and last as I did not get “Sunflower Seeds” emailed to me, most likely it was overlooked if it happens again I will let you know.
I am thinking this coming weekend will be perfect for closet cleaning, Thanks for your emails.
Dear Bridget, Let me know if you don’t get “Sunflower Seeds.” I post them to go on line every Monday at 1:00 AM. I usually get mine about 9:00 AM. I’ll look into it if some of you are having problems getting it. Thanks again for writing! Sr. Melannie
We have a special place in our hearts for Nature, we feed it! You have a great perspective on Deer Tracks, don’t worry they found the apple pealings, their sense of smell is amazing as their sense of hearing, I would like to be a Deer for a day (when it is not hunting season).
Thank you for feeding-Nourishing us with your weekly posts, I love them.
Dear Bridget, You’re right about the apple peels. The deer found them even though they were covered by the snow. Yes, it would be intriguing to experience the world as a deer–or an eagle, or a whale, or an otter, or a dog…..Sr. Melannie
Oh the beauty to be found, and you find it!
Thank you for, again, showing me the beauty of God in everything, even deer tracks.
Blessings! ~ Ellen
Thank you too for writing, Ellen! Melannie
Thank you for feeding the deer. I often feed the deer my apple cores—usually every day. I’ve noticed the deer tracks in the snow, and know their paths—at least those on the edge of the woods on our property. I think “feeding the hungry” also applies to our brothers and sisters who are animal members of earth’s family. It is my little way of trying to make up for how some humans treat animals and for human greed in taking up so much of the earth’s resources. (And why should we fill our landfills with food they need?) The apple cores always disappear, and I’m sure the deer are grateful. I don’t know how anyone can look into their eyes and not be amazed by the beauty God created.
Dear Annie, Thank you for extending the concept of “feeding the hungry” to the other animal members of God’s vast creation. My apple peels were not under the tree when the snow melted, so I’m sure the deer had gotten them. And I agree, there’s something about the eyes of deer that really fascinate me! Thanks again for writing, Annie! Melannie
Your words made me think of how people track animals to get an up-close look at them or even take a picture. I never really thought about tracking God and yet, I know that I do that every time I seek His presence and I also know that I do indeed see His face(tracks) in the beauty of nature, in the smile of a new-born, in the joy of celebration and in the consecrated bread and wine of each Eucharist. Thanks for encouraging our on-going awareness of the many ways that God enters our lives to hold us, heal us and help us.
Dear Larry, Your words are beautiful! Yes, I agree: there are “many ways that God enters our lives to hold us, heal us, and help us.” And in all our seeking of God, we must remember: God seeks us first! Thanks again! Sr. Melannie
HI Sr. Melannie,
I get the little booklet called “Living Faith” and when I saw you blog address I decided to look it up. What a pleasant surprise to find your postings. They are so part of every day and put sparkle into my soul. I like to write myself and so enjoyed your thoughts. I sent your postings to many of my friends and I know they will enjoy them also. Thanks Sr. Melannie. Oh yes we do not have deer here but I have seen these majestic animals other places. I live on Prince Edward Island
Sr. Jacinta way up in Canada
Dear Sr. Jacinta, How nice to have someone “way up in Canada” responding. Thank you very much! What kind of things do you write? I’d be interested in knowing. Thanks again! Melannie
Reading your article reminded me of my walk in my own neighborhood just before Christmas. A deer crossed my path right in town and as I passed another two followed behind me. They were standing under a tree in someone’s yard and it was dark outside. I went back and stood and watched them and was softly calling out to them telling them how beautiful they were. I was so surprised when one of them ran towards me and it wasn’t until I felt fear in my heart that it stopped and the other deer followed him. It was such an awesome experience of Love and how they responded to my Love although I am a bit of a scardy cat too. Love to photograph wildlife, so have come to realize how animals respond to us.
Dear Linda, Wow! What a beautiful experience. Thank you for sharing it. Deer tend to be inquisitive. Your gentle talking to them must have made them curious. You disarmed them with your words and they came closer to investigate. What a human to deer connection! Thanks again! Sr. Melannie