During one of my dinner club meals last year, there was a running joke about what kind of roadkill we were having . Today, the answer was deer. Definitely deer. My life is not often calculated to put me at ease, and today is one of those days that demonstrated that fact particularly plainly. While I was driving in my customary fashion to services in Hood River this morning, as I drove the speed limit + 5mph or so, I saw with my peripheral vision a juvenile male buck about eye level to me running into the road. I did not have nearly enough time to stop, only to register the general attributes of this particularly foolish deer and to feel and hear the loud noise as the deer rushed into my side. I didn’t see any deer carcass behind me, or when I drove that way after services, and when I got to my destination a couple miles away, I did not see any damage except for my side mirror, which was smashed in pretty well, and in retelling my tale to others, I was told by some that I was lucky the damage was not worse. Yes, this may be so, but I was not lucky to have a deer run into my car in the first place right around the city limits of Hood River. In many ways this is a metaphor for my life. I may be lucky that I am not more damaged, but I’m not all that lucky in what I deal with in the first place.
When I arrived at services, I quickly noticed some situations that were somewhat stressful, and already being alarmed from the attack of the suicidal deer, I was not feeling my best. Of course, I was asked to give the opening prayer, and ended up being asked in the sermon if the little spinning fan that was bothering our pastor was helping me at all (it wasn’t). None of those things were calculated to make me at ease either. The messages were quite excellent, and I hope to write about them in greater detail tomorrow. Suffice it to say, for the moment, that the messages dovetailed both with each other and with my opening prayer as well, which is always a pleasure, when everyone is of the same mindset about focusing on both the acquisition of knowledge and the application of that knowledge in ways that build godly character and show love for others. How to do that, though, in an atmosphere of suspicion and mistrust and an absence of love and respect, though, is always a difficult proposition. I have never sought the easy way for myself, though.
After services I ended up chatting with others, and ended up leaving services towards the end of the group, when almost everyone had already left, as is my usual fashion, before driving a half an hour to the boathouse. Of course, I was trying to find places where I could be friendly but also stay out of trouble. I was mostly successful in this task, I think, if not entirely so. I was, of course, fairly witty, as is my fashion in uncomfortable situations, as a way of diffusing tension with self-effacing and wry humor. I would hope, at least, that people are aware of this tendency and able to respond to it in kind. Additionally, the time there was full of interesting and serious conversations about the damages that result from trauma to people and to animals, and the nobility of horses and the way in which sometimes so much damage is done to someone or something that no one can reach them with concern and care because their suffering has lasted too long without respite, so much so that physical destruction is the only alternative, something which made me deeply unhappy to think about for either horses or people. It is not an easy thing at all to show kindness and friendliness to people that one sees as fairly hostile to myself and my reputation, but it is a task that has been laid on me to build character, and perhaps to demonstrate character, and that is my task to do as best as possible with all the assistance I can muster.
After the boathouse party, I raced off to Camas to practice music for my next trip to Hood River for a special music presentation. I ended up spending three hours singing, eating, and talking, and having some of the younglings crawl all over me and pretend that I was a monster. That’s not a game I particularly like, but fortunately for them I make a good pretend monster and allow them their own safe bases. It is a good thing that they do not understand the difference between pretend monsters and real ones that leave no safe place, not one’s home or family, not even one’s imagination or one’s dreams at night. It is agonizing to me that anyone could see my restraint and my open honesty about my struggles as the sign of any kind of monstrous evil intent towards others. Yet people make snap judgments and impute evil far too easily, and once we think evil of others it is hard for us to step back from the ledge, because our evil opinion of them justifies our lack of love and respect and concern for them, and changing that opinion would then imply that we had behaved monstrously by thinking evil and treating poorly accordingly, and that we must both apologize and change our behaviors as a result of that knowledge. Far too few people are able to take those steps. May we be willing ourselves to repent of thinking evil and treating others poorly. Sometimes in life even deer attack, but that doesn’t mean that we have to attack back, however shocked we may be by the extent of assaults that we face over the course of our lives.