Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Faces of Deer

When for too long I don’t go deep enough into the woods to see them, they being to enter my dreams. Yes, there they are, in the pinewoods of my inner life. I want to live a life full of modesty and praise. Each hoof of each animal makes the sign of a heart as it touches then lefts away from the ground. Unless you believe that heaven is very near, how will you find it? Their eyes are pools in which one would be content, on any summer afternoon, to swim away through the door of the world. Then, love and its blessing. Then: heaven.

In the movie, Princess Mononoke, there is a Forest Spirit that appears as the great stag of the forest. This magical being represents wisdom and hope, and the other characters have fear of him. Towards the end of the movie we finally glimpse this being and wonder if suddenly the world will be made right by his presence. Each time he places his hoof upon the ground, a bounty of flowers and plants emerge from his hoof prints, and then they die and shrivel as he lifts his foot. This forest wisdom manifests as a cycle of life and death with every step. Heaven indeed is everywhere, and it encompasses suffering, harm, and death. Wisdom comes from seeing beauty in death and life, everywhere.

I know this is hard to live with. It’s hard for me. When I see the young fawn dead on the side of the road from a car impact, I cringe. Surely it isn’t right that such a soft and innocent being should go through this tragedy, so young? When I hear of the millions of dollars of damage that comes from cars hitting deer each year in the U.S. and the loss of human and deer life because of these collisions, I am stunned. We want deer in our lives, and the results is death and suffering. I think of the great Forest Spirit, so powerful, so achingly beautiful, and so clearly the bringer of life and death. What is love but the foolishness to see blessings in such a frightening, lovely world?

What kind of life do you wish to live – one of modesty and praise as Mary suggests?

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