Last night, I walked on the trail beside the river like I do most days. It is not uncommon to see Deer down there feeding on grass out in the meadow at dusk. But last night, a Deer stepped out of the bushes on to the path only 15 feet in front of me. We both froze, stared at each other, and then she walked across the path, bounded into the bushes, and across the river. It was a treat. In all the days that I have walked this trail over the last few years, this has never happened before. So, I thought about it as more than a treat. I thought of it as “sign” from the Universe; a message; a teaching.
So, as I walked, I thought about what it could mean; a Deer crossing from North to South. I have been told that the Deer represent family; that the North is the direction of mind, beliefs and ideas; and the South is the direction of emotions and feelings. I thought about the changes happening in my family life; about my youngest child leaving home in the fall. I thought about how I have been trying to prepare myself for this change; imagining what the house will feel like once she moves out; thinking about the classes I might take; considering the organizations I could volunteer with; thinking about the people I could visit.
But this “sign” suggests that it is time for me to move from a place of thinking into a place of feeling. As I pondered that, I realized that a lot of my thinking has been directed at how I will keep busy and fill my time once my daughter leaves home; more of a desperate plan to avoid being alone and feeling lonely, than a heart felt move towards something I have dreamed of doing. I realized that I have been trying to think myself out of the experience; talk myself out of the feelings; think my way out of the pain. But, I know better. In my heart of hearts, I know that the new dreams for the next stage of my life – the new projects, relationships, and ways of being – can only be born when I have mourned the death of this stage of my life. When I have mourned the loss of my child-rearing years, felt the loneliness, experienced the space in my life, new dreams will be born. Some things cannot be rushed; they must run their course.
On the return trip on the trail, with my eyes partially blinded by the light from the setting sun, I was surprised by yet another deer. A younger Deer this time. She too was crossing over the path from North to South. We too froze and stared at each other. When I offered re-assuring words of encouragement, she continued on her way, down the bank, and out into the middle of the river. Twice within the course of a 40 minute walk. I chuckled to myself, and whispered to the trees, “Message received”.