Clumsily the polka dot wonder pranced through the brush, breaking sticks under its toddler feet and drawing so much attention within a quarter mile that it might as well have worn a blaze orange sign with the words “Eat Me.” Don’t you know there’s a coyote pack roamin’ these parts, little podna? I thought.
Usually it walked the fields with its twin sibling, and usually its mother was nearby. Not today.
There was more shuffling. The bushes along the fence row shook one after the other, like a sloppy version of “the wave” in a stadium crowd. I stayed in my seat as to not alert of my presence.
Where are they? I surveyed the yard and neighboring woods for momma and sister, thinking the worst. The coyote howls had drawn closer to the house the past few nights.
The frightened little guy traipsed back and forth along the fence, nosing in the breeze, looking for an opening he knew was there but couldn’t seem to find.
I’d seen this fawn jump the clear spot many times. It’s the only gap over the fence that is marked by a well-worn path on either side, but he’d only jumped it when momma was around—and only after momma had gone first. C’mon, I thought, you’ve done this a dozen times.
He never found the clearing, nor the game trail leading to it. His panic was causing a raucous that was sure to invite only bad things.
Then I saw it out of the corner of my eye…
There was no panic in her steps. No rushing. Only grace. And sister came trotting not far behind.
Polka dot wonder stared at them from the other side, motionless, except for a twitch here and there.
Momma sniffed his wet nose through the fence, then walked in the direction of the clearing. He mirrored her steps.
She leaned back and leapt an arch of smooth beauty over the wire fence. And sister, uncertain at first, followed, with her own leap of faith.
Sometimes I feel like that little fawn, frightened when I can’t find the opening over the fence, or the narrow path hidden amidst the weeds. Or when I can’t find Him.
I get clumsy, like a child, running this way and that, making all kinds of noise, inviting only bad things. And God is like momma deer. She was never far off. She wasn’t freaked out. I’d bet she was watching him the entire time.
Sometimes the only way we grow is when we step out alone, sometimes by our own choice, sometimes not. We are tested in what we’ve been taught, confronting the truth, confronting our fears—confronting ourselves.
But the truth is, we are never alone.