White Deer

snow, sleet, ice in North Carolina


A few days ago, Daniel and I were driving through our neighborhood, almost home, when he asked, “What’s in that yard?” I was dutifully looking straight ahead, but I started checking out what was on either side of me to figure out what he was talking about, and it was then that I saw them.  At first I thought they were dogs running like crazy from the house on the left.  Then I realized they were deer.  Three young deer.  They raced across the front yard of the house on the left, leaped across the road and raced across the yard of the house on the right into the trees.

It took a few seconds for my brain to process what it saw: two young brown deer and one white deer.  We live in an area with lots of trees, so seeing deer isn’t unusual.  As a matter of fact, Daniel and I watched 5 deer wander around our back yard last weekend.  It’s not unusual for me to see deer crossing the street: deer are notorious for darting across the street with little notice where I work.   However, I had never seen a white deer before.

I joked on Twitter that I hoped the white deer wasn’t a sign of doom or death.  I looked it up, and white deer symbolize purity, an impending spiritual quest or a message from the gods that you had transgressed a taboo.

My imagination took over, and I started wondering what message the white deer had for me based on what is going on in my life right now.  Had I committed some grievous sin against the universe?  Notice how I instantly go for the worst interpretation.  Am I about to be tested by a spiritual journey? I kind of hope not because I think that’s what the last year or so has been.  No more testing, please!

In truth, I’m sure the white deer is simply a white deer.  It happened to cross my path because I was in the right place at the right time.

Sometimes I envy the ancient civilizations.  We modern humans often roll our eyes and laugh at how they attributed everything that happened in their world to a sign from their gods.  How they had huge number of deities governing every aspect of their lives.  We think how primitive their thinking and their understanding of science were.  How very precious these first civilizations were!

Yet, these people felt connected to their gods.  They felt like their gods were literally everywhere and took an interest in their lives and their world.  If the crops failed, perhaps they had displeased a god.  If the harvest was bountiful, the god was pleased with them.  It is simplistic but reassuring at the same time: there is something bigger than they are keeping watch and taking notes.  And if they had transgressed, there were definitive actions they thought they needed to take to make it better: offerings, sacrifice, rituals.  Possibly brutal and disgusting to modern sensibilities, but I can imagine how it would have been a relief to feel like you could do something to change your luck in the world.

I contrast that with how often I want to look for a sign, a symbol, a message in nature, in a certain song on the radio, in a dream before acknowledging the more likely randomness of events.  During the darkest days of our time in infertility hell, I often wondered WHY we had been selected for this outcome.  Were we being tested like Job?  And what about those who had children with little effort?  Were they truly better people?  Were we being punished?  More importantly, was there something we could do to right our karma?

The truth is that life doesn’t work that way.  Life is a crap shoot and sometimes you’re up; other times you’re down.  No omnipotent, omniscient being is picking on you, even if it seems like that.  White deer running across the road are simply white deer running across the road.

I long to believe there are mysteries in the universe yet to be solved; that there is more to life than what it seems.  My heart tells me one thing while my stubborn brain tells me another.


I had a three-day weekend last weekend, and it was much anticipated and very nice.  I needed it because I was not looking forward to the work week to come.  Things are a little crazy at work right now with uncertainty due to the recently-announced need for a “mid-year correction.”  The week was culminating in two days of meetings for the entire staff and then another meeting afterwards that I was dreading.  I was in a bad mood all week and just knew it was going to be a bad, no good, horrible week. When you dread Friday, you know you’ve got problems.

Suddenly, mid-way through the week, things started to change.  I skipped a day-long meeting and had a quiet day in the office to catch up on some work, picking up Daniel a little early so we could cook dinner and have a little more time together.  Thursday, mere hours before the staff meeting started, the Friday portion of the meeting was cancelled due to impending bad weather.  With snow/sleet/ice threatening, Jimmy urged us both to stay home on Friday, keeping Daniel home with us since we didn’t want to be caught trying to navigate nasty roads with him in the car.

Friday morning, the nasty weather started earlier than expected, and I was grateful we decided to stay home.  I got some work done, and then we three snuggled and watched it sleet all day.  I even took a nap.  It was a lovely, low-key day.  An unexpected…sleet day and another three-day weekend.  I told Jimmy that the week had ended beautifully, much, much better than I had thought it would even only a few days earlier.

Maybe white deer…maybe there are some mysteries still left.