Last week ended with a bang…and not the good kind. Suffice it to say, the economic consequences of a global pandemic have trickled down to my educational publishing company, and the team of nine I previously worked on became a team of one. My editor sent me the following note before clocking out for an extended leave of absence:
Let me know if you hear of an amazing editorial position that opens up. You’re more likely to see a herd of unicorns, though.
I laughed, then told her I would be keeping an eye out for rainbows. Inside, though, my heart was breaking. It’s not fair that these wonderful, gifted women I work with are being put in this position. It’s not fair that people throughout the world are suddenly unemployed and facing economic ruin. It’s not fair that health care providers are being put in the position where they have to put themselves at risk in order to save others. It’s not fair that governments cannot get it together enough to send immediate aid to those who need it most. It’s not fair that people are being sickened by the millions and dying by the thousands.
Feeling overwhelmed with anxiety and grief, I did the only thing I could. I went with my husband for a long walk. As my feet slapped the asphalt, I envisioned myself pounding out the fears and frustrations that were piled up within me. With each breath, I released a little more of the anxiety coursing through my veins. My thoughts slowed, and I was left with the blissful sounds of spring birds calling, distant construction equipment humming, and my husband and I breathing in harmony. It was in this quiet space that I saw it…a lone deer standing alert beside the path. It had emerged silently from the woods, and was waiting, still as stone, to see if it was safe to cross over. My husband and I slowed, giving the deer space as it sized up our threat level. Then, with a swiftness and grace only deer can muster, it sprung across the path and cantered into an adjoining field. Three other deer followed in quick succession. Just when we thought the path was clear, a young fawn clattered from the woods and bolted across the path to join its family.
A herd of deer.
Crazy as it might seem, I felt like God was sending a very clear message in that moment. While it wasn’t a herd of unicorns, it was a promise. God is here. God is working. God will prevail.
Psalm 42 begins with a deer. As the deer thirsts for water, so the psalmist thirst for God. The psalmist is in despair, his “whole being depressed.” He is walking around filled with sorrow, to the point that he says that his bones are crushed. His enemies have him surrounded, and he will surely fall victim to their onslaught. The psalmist is begging God to make himself known…to come to the aid of those who love him. Sound familiar?
I don’t know about you, but my prayers have been pretty desperate lately. At one point this week, I found myself walking through my living room with my arms outstretched calling out “Hosanna! Hosanna!”, and it wasn’t even Palm Sunday. The word hosanna translates to save now…and that has been my prayer for all of humanity. God, save us now.
I’ve been praying for a herd of unicorns….for God’s miraculous power to burst forth in a shower of rainbow-colored confetti and to cover the entire Earth. And, while God is perfectly capable of doing just that–rainbow-colored confetti and all–it’s not really his M.O. There is a natural order to the world. It is an order that God designed from the beginning, and it is in this natural order that God is working. God sent the deer to remind me, to remind us, that he is still here working. In seeing the deer, I remembered God’s goodness and love, and my soul was lifted.
I cannot promise that there won’t be dark days ahead. All of science seems to tell us that the worst is still to come. But in those moments of despair, when anxiety threatens to tear us apart from the inside out, remember the deer. Remember that God is working for us. Remember that God is still fighting for us. Remember that we, like the psalmist, will again give him thanks.
So, today, keep looking for that herd of unicorns…but be sure to give God thanks when he sends you a herd of deer instead.
Blessings and Peace,