Reverence and the Deer

deerI was walking early one morning, just as the sun was coming up. I was in a section of woods not too far from my home. I was trying to walk as soundlessly as possible. There was a mist that morning and the woods seemed hushed. Before I was aware of it, I came face-to-face with a large male deer. It was beautiful. I was startled; the deer just stood there and watched me. I stared back, holding my breath. After what seemed like minutes, it slowly turned and disappeared into the woods.

I breathed out and thought about how close I lived to something this wild, this big, and so “other” than me. A feeling of reverence came over me and I stood rooted to the spot. I wondered how many other eyes might be watching me in that moment, in the morning woods. I wondered how crowded this quiet place might be, life teeming around me, just beyond my awareness. I turned and looked into the woods and listened—it felt like something was watching me, holding its breath too, and waiting for me to move.

When I finally took a tentative step, I was aware of the birds singing again. There was a rustling in the trees and a gradual moving deeper into the woods. The mist was burning off. When I got home, I sat quietly for a long time with my eyes closed. I remembered I meant to pray. Then I laughed quietly, opened my eyes, and said to the empty house, “I think I just did.”

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Joseph Durepos
Joseph Durepos worked at Loyola Press from 2002 until his retirement in 2018. There he acquired and published over 200 books, including books by New York Times Best Selling authors Fr. James Martin (My Life with the Saints), Joan Wester Anderson (In the Arms of Angels), and Pope Francis (The Church of Mercy). Before coming to Loyola Press, Joseph was an independent literary agent specializing in religion and spirituality titles.


  1. Such a powerful reflection. I have a personal spot in my heart for seeing deer after a silent retreat in which everyone but myself saw them. Thank you for sharing such an intimate moment with the eternal with us.

  2. I had a similar experience in the woods several years ago and have relived that encounter many times since. God just is!

  3. “Meeting” another creature does bring awe and reminds us to thank God for the gift of this world and our small place in it. The stillness of the deer gave you, in turn, the gifts of stillness and then reflection – and that is awesome!

    • I think you’re right M.J. I realize the older I get, the more I crave those moments in nature. Even to simply get lost listening to the birds singing.

    • It was wonderful to just get out of my head for a moment and connect with something wild and free. That world of the deer, so close to my home, and yet, so different…

  4. I agree with Joe’s comment! It is an “awe” moment and thus, filled with the love of a God who fills the whole universe!
    Beautiful reflection- thank you, Joseph.

  5. I believe that is that “awe” moment when we are somehow touched by God showing us his deep love for us and his creation.

      • Joseph, another wonderful perspective to contemplate is, that meeting this beautiful buck, at this particular moment, was a gift that only YOU received. No other human being was there to experience the awe you felt, to take in the very same light, the very same mist…..A moment
        and gift God only shared with and meant for you!♡

  6. I was spending time at the site where my husband is buried. When I returning home I saw eyes from both sides of the road. There was a deer either trying to cross the road or waiting for the other one to cross to be with him. I just stopped the car and watched God’s beautiful creatures until they decided to make their next move. The one on the right side crossed to be with the other and they both went into the woods. I thanked God for their beauty and for my safety.


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