I 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.”