Monday, November 14, 2011

Deer Season

One of the things Charlotte loves about where she lives is the wildlife in her area. She keeps her horses out on a little ranch owned by Dr. Gunn, Aggie Class of ’43. He’s a retired veterinarian, in his 90’s, and on his 100 acres of grassland on the Brazos River, he boards about a dozen horses. Our old man, Bo, grazes freely on the pasture, and Dr. Gunn allows him to live there without charge, because in his words, “He’s served us well.” How I ended up with a horse named Bo is another story. Charlotte’s other two girls, Harley and Beret, have it made in the shade. They have no work to do, and get to play in the fields with their friends all day. They have company. The cows from neighboring pastures come to visit when the fences are down, and there are plenty of deer. Charlotte’s little house sits up on the bluff over the river, and she can see her girls from her kitchen window. To ride or feed, she just walks down the hill, and does what she needs to do.

Driving to and from home, the two miles of River Road are interspersed with other small ranches, along with a couple of exotic wildlife ranches. It’s such a pretty area. It’s typical to see deer grazing all along the road, and you’ve got to watch for them, as you’re the interloper, not them. Charlotte found out the hard way in June. She was driving home one night, going about 30 mph which is the only safe speed on that road, and swerved to keep from hitting a deer. She hit a tree instead. The deer survived, but the tree didn’t and neither did her Jeep. They were totaled. Charlotte had two black eyes, a bruised face, hurt muscles and bones all over, and walked through the dark to her house before a stranger picked her up and gave her a ride the rest of the way. Mothers hate phone calls in the middle of the night for several reasons, and there are a lot of questions:
1. Are you okay?
a. Do you need to go to the hospital? No, sob.
b. Is anything broken? Yes, my car’s broken. My pride’s broken. The deer’s probably broken. The tree’s broken.
2. Is the deer allright? See #2.
3. How’s your car? Not good.
a. It’s not driveable? The hood’s crashed in, it’s smoking, the fenders in the tire, and it’s all smashed up.
b. Did you leave it off the roadway? Yes, it’s in the ditch with the tree.
4. Did you call the police or EMS? Yes, I walked home and called 911 so they sent a constable to the scene. They checked me out and told me to call a tow truck for the car so I called USAA and they sent a tow truck. They took my car to a salvage yard because the tow truck driver said it was totaled. Sob. Sob. (Was that me or Charlotte?)
5. You walked all the way home? No, a stranger picked me up.
6. What were you thinking, haven’t I told you not to ride with strangers? Mom, it was a girl who lives on my road. She said her friend got killed hitting a deer on that road a month ago.
7. Sob. Sob.

Needless to say, it was an ordeal for Charlotte, but she was okay, and that was the bottom line.

Well, it’s deer season. Sunday morning I got another call from my child, telling me she was on her way to work and this time a deer hit her. She was driving down Hwy 60 (four lanes of traffic) and the deer crossed the road (to get to the other side, I assume) and hit her car. She was following all the advice she’d been given from the last accident when he appeared (don’t swerve) but he hit her front bumper, then rolled onto the hood, off the hood, onto the road, and kept going into the woods. It was a huge buck judging by the crater on her hood. She was able to drive home and reached me. I had some more questions for her:
1. Are you okay? Yes, no injuries.
2. I omitted the question about the deer. He’s on his own.
3. How’s your car? Terrible.
4. And so on.

Then Charlotte turned the questions on me. She asked me, “Why does God hate me?” She told me she prays, she talks to him, she tries to be a good person, she loves Him, but now she’s wrecked a second car, so therefore He must not really be paying attention.

It’s where the rubber meets the road for each of us. Where is God when we hurt? I gave her a short answer, but wanted to give her the longer version because it matters so much. I told her that maybe He just longs for a deeper walk (or ride) with each of us. Prayer is not just a tool. It’s a relationship. It’s a symbiotic thing. We pray, but our prayers then require us to listen. We speak, but then we must hear. That requires some stillness, some devotion, some time. John tells us that right now, this is eternal life, that we may know God, the only true God, and the One He has sent, Jesus. Yet we have to go beyond the knowing. We can memorize our Bible backwards and forwards, but if all we have is knowledge we are missing out. We must also understand. He wants time with us. We can serve Him all day long, and still be confused about who He is. He wants more than our knowledge, our time, our service. He wants our heart. I told Charlotte, perhaps you have to change your point of view. We drive cars. They’re dangerous. There are obstacles. A deer who lives in the wild doesn’t understand highways. When he hit your car, God protected you from further harm. He wants you to understand that, and know that He was with you. He wants you to praise Him for His watchcare. And He wants you to know that He’ll be taking care of you. Prayer is not insurance, it’s assurance, that we serve a living, loving God who longs for us. He wants my heart. All of it. He wants yours. All of it. For always.

A couple of weeks ago, Christi took her Brownie troop to the nursing home for a visit before Halloween. The residents there love to see children, and the little faces of the pirates, ballerinas, and fairies just brightened their day. Dorothy and Harry Potter held hands with some of those in wheelchairs, and there was a lot of smiling and twinkling. But I was thinking that as much as they loved the visit, they must get so lonely for relationships. How much stronger they’d be if this visit happened often, and had a deeper meaning. Don’t get me wrong, Christi’s visit was a kindness, and I’m grateful to have a daughter with a heart like that. My granddaughters and grandson were cheerful and gentle with the elderly women they visited, and that was a precious, precious moment to me. I’m so grateful for a family that is willing to serve, and I know that as they look into the eyes of these older folks, they are remembering the love of their own grandparents. There is no shortage of blessings in our lives. But I was thinking that the visit was a parable of sorts. A teachable moment in which God was saying-- See me every day. Be with me always. And that’s what I want Charlotte to understand, in danger or in peace. That God is calling us to see Him, to be with Him in every moment, because there is never, ever, a time when He is not with us.

One of my favorite verses in the Bible is this one: As the deer pants for water, so my soul longs for thee. I told Charlotte, maybe the deer was just thirsty. Or maybe God was sharing something with us: Do we long for Him, in every moment, in every opportunity, in every trial?

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