We were camping in the Cascades this weekend. Yesterday, when I tried to go hiking with my husband I was too sore, and so I had to turn back to rest while he hiked on. Intending to write I found a quiet place near the edge of a lava flow. I spread out a blanket and started by reading the bible, intending to work on Icon, my symbolic novel experiment in mystic writing, in a bit. For a while I was distracted by the clicking of some insects that sounded something like I might imagine rattlesnakes to sound like, but I started to calm down reading about Solomon and the queen of Sheba, Joash, Elisha, political uprisings and child kings. Oddly, the biblical violence was soothing and spoke of stories both of God and man and what I might write.
Eventually, I went looking for a new quote for the chapter seven of Icon since it wasn't turning out to be about what I thought it would be about. And in the middle of reading Matthew, a deer dashed around the corner of the lava flow. All I heard was the thunder of its steps and looked up terrified. It skidded to a stop, staring at me, just as terrified, ears outward, dust rising around its red brown coat. For a small fraction of a moment, we just stared at each other terrified, and I was unsure if I should run or if it would run me over first, then the deer turned to the side and dashed off, leaving me exhilarated and feeling blessed.
A second deer poked its head around the edge of the lava flow cautiously, warned by the terror of the first. For a second we watched each other, before it turned back the way it'd come, leaving me in peace. Still their beauty touched me, inspired me to actually try to write. I decided on a passage about vine branches from John from the last supper, looked it up, and I took out the laptop to write.
Terror and beauty and mystery was there in that encounter with the deer and I think I am perhaps rather like them when it comes to glimpsing God. He waits, quietly, patiently, and I turn the corner, busy with my own thoughts, only to stop in sheer terror at seeing him. I am curious, I want to investigate, but also afraid, and so dash on in a different direction. Instead, I hope that next time I come face to face with Him, I will pause, then draw closer instead.
Also, I think I should sit quietly out in the middle of nowhere more often. Nature has a way of leading me to its creator.