Years ago, I frequently hiked alone in an area that was still new to me, literally and metaphorically.
It is difficult to find a place to be alone in the woods and remain relatively safe, so I was grateful for the park’s extensive trails, many of which offer opportunity for solitude. I was on a trail I had not yet explored, always an adventure and a distraction from anxieties.
As was my habit, I kept alert for beloved creatures: chipmunks, squirrels, birds, deer. I heard something on the right. I froze so as not to scare it away. A white head poked out of the leaves.
At first, I thought it was a dog. Then I thought it was a pony. It wasn’t. The miracle I was seeing was a white deer.
I vividly recall my reaction—tears poured down my face, practically blurring my vision, but I didn’t wipe them away. I did not want this apparition to disappear. It was as if it knew what I had been worrying about: my older daughter with disabilities and tremendous social difficulties.
“I am different, too.” That is what the white deer said to me. “And I am rare.”
I only saw the white deer three times—that first time, once with its half-white mother among a small group of tawny colored others, and once again alone. In solitude, I sought it often, but it must have migrated. My husband said he drove by one in a field not far from my first sighting, but even that was several years ago.
I think the white deer was God, and I think he is telling me to seek solitude elsewhere now, that there are other places to find the kind of wisdom that being alone brings.
I will be led there.
Last year, I took part in the "Letters of Gratitude" course during which we were tasked to write 30 letters on 30 different topics until we reached a place of thankfulness. Above is my 13th letter, unedited.