My desk sits next to and facing a window, and the only problem with that comes from my tendency to gaze into the woods instead of attending to the project that sits on my desk. On this day I’m glad I looked up when I did. About fifty feet directly in front of me, still in my yard, though my “yard” is all undeveloped forest, I catch a slight movement. It appears to be the twitch of an ear, a rabbit, I think. Then I look closer and see the body lying in the fallen leaves, blending perfectly into the snow covered forest floor in a depression next to an old stump. That is the biggest rabbit I have ever seen! Instead, as I take some minutes to observe, it proves to be a deer.
She sits silently, motionlessly, except for an occasional reaction to a gust of wind or a wary reflex to a sound nearby. Likewise I am absorbed in meditating on her, as she has chosen to rest mid-morning in such close proximity to my home. She is well-concealed, nearly invisible, camouflaged in color and stillness, and secure in her choice of resting place.
Not thirty minutes before this I walked around the house, passing just a few feet from her. She must have been there then, but still she stayed. She lies there, and even when I stand to get a better look, she makes no move. Now I know where deer go during the daytime. In the evening we often see them along the road. They leave their tracks all around the house. On a wintry night I have walked outside and interrupted a herd of ten or more nearby, but during this particular day, she is by herself and secure in her secret. If she had not moved so slightly when I happened to look up in her direction, I never would have noticed.
I have moved enough, and made enough noise, that I know she is aware of me. Once she even stands and looks in my direction, then turns around and moves a few feet, still in view, and lies down again. For three hours, as I work at the desk, she is my silent partner.
How many times have I missed such a visitor? What am I not seeing now, even as surprised as I am by this one, and as intent on seeing someone or something else? Does the barred owl still rest on this day in the stump nearby? Does the armadillo dig in the loose leaves and make a nest for sleep during this day?
How hard it is to learn to be observant and sensitive to the world around us! Only by accident do most of us note what is there for us to understand all along. Accelerate the hustle-bustle of our pace, and we miss even more. Slow it to a steady, thoughtful pace, and we at least have a chance to notice. Now I too must move along and do some other work, but her soft, gracious presence has beautified my day. When I return she too has moved on to something else. But, I think, she is still nearby, observing me.