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?