Spellbound, I froze and clutched my writing pad and pen to my bosom, as the fawn came closer. I did not want to startle her. The doe, ears up like flags as soon as she spotted me across the marsh pond, had fled into the wood.
The fawn, so new to the world, was barely able to stagger upright on her fragile legs. Regardless, she slowly, and serendipitously, tottered around the pond in my direction, sniffing and chewing delicacies en route, sensually attentive in each step and innocently embracing all that life presented.
Awestruck simply in the gift of witnessing this exquisite creature exploring her newly discovered world, I had believed her instincts would deter her from approaching a human. However, her angelic trust apparently was all-encompassing, so that the onus was on me to do no harm, nor otherwise take advantage of her vulnerability. Never was I so humbled as in this magic encounter.
‘Magical’ is a word that has several meanings, among them, mystic, enchanting and mysterious. But dictionary definitions are so limited in describing the special moments in life that transport us from the mundane to the sacred or holy – namely, an awakened reverence for life.
Such unexpected encounters are opportunities that can signify deep meaning, if we pay attention. Alternatively, we can choose to disregard such an event, frivolously tossing it aside. A shallow, fleeting glance, for example, might scan the fawn’s surface physicality of Bambi-like cuteness, before moving on, oblivious to any appreciation of such a rare encounter in the wild and without reflection about what we can learn.
The fawn, eventually, arrived at my side, fully exercising the quality of inquisitiveness for which deer are renowned. Her nose rubbed against my jeans as as she sniffed the strange, tall, two-legged creature. I had almost stopped breathing from sheer panic that if my human scent later would be detected, the fawn’s mother would reject her. For that reason, golly, did I ever have to restrain myself from the temptation to reach out and gently stroke her beautiful, soft, dappled body.
The dainty creature then continued on her way, in no hurry, while she minutely examined the wealth of her surroundings, particularly in their olfactory and edible delights. I remained still until she disappeared, the wonder and joy of her brief companionship washing over me.
Jungian analyst/author Linda Schierse Leonard mentions that Jung characterized the spiritual plight of Western civilization as the result of its alienation from the rest of the world. I agree, and add, that it is through close encounters in Nature, entered upon with the humility and intentionality to learn rather than with the self-serving arrogance to exploit, where each and every human being can restore any misplaced sense of reverence.
Spiritually-grounded messengers have reminded us of this fact through the ages. Leonard writes, in Creation’s Heartbeat, Following the Reindeer Spirit:
“Prophets, poets and other visionaries have always known that it is in the wilderness that we find spirit. Christ, Buddha, and Mohammed went alone to the desert, the forest, or the mountains to pray and ask for vision and enlightenment. They travelled inward to the interior wilderness as well, finding renewed strength and inspiration” [Leonard, 1996, p. 37].
Indeed, the world of Nature has bountiful gifts and teachings, which expand and deepen our minds and hearts to appreciate the multitude of ways in which human life is interrelated with all nonhuman life. The gifts are the magical moments of encounter, and the teachings awaken our higher qualities and elevate our state of mind to a holistic level of appreciating life itself, interconnecting mind, body, heart and soul. In that regard, I considered the fawn a messenger as well.
For such magical encounters offer numinous experiences, where Nature and Spirit intersect. My encounter many years ago on the trails of Ganondagan – a historic site dedicated by the State of New York to honour Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) history, culture and living traditions – offered one such transformative moment in my life.
Go to http://www.ganondagan.org, and other site pages, to read about the Haudenosaunee. Scroll down the hiking page, to click `Thanksgiving Address,’ or go to www.nativevillage.org/Inspiration-/iroquois_thanksgiving_address.htm. Here is an eloquent prayer that exemplifies the Indigenous appreciation for Creation, this particular prayer still recited today at the opening of all formal Haudenosaunee gatherings.