My words were, “going for a walk.” My plan was, take the camera with. The air temperature had moderated significantly in 24 hours. Heavy winter outer clothing was not needed. It felt good. In the first hundred yards my mind began the process of planning subjects to photograph. Every step revealed the fact that light was fading fast. Photos would be difficult. “This will just be a good walk then,” was my next thought. Around the corner, headed east, a chickadee flying south and overhead confirmed how little light there was for photos. The camera, lens covered was under my coat. It’s warmer there.
A nagging thought persisted, “But you should get the camera set for this light. What if something unexpected comes in view?” Next thought was, “the neighbors will think me crazy. It can wait till later.” Up the hill, past the cows feeding on the last mouthfuls of hay before dark and soon my feet had taken me to the last house. It certainly seemed a waste of time to even bother setting the camera. It was nearly sunset, cloudy too. Beside that fact was the memory that usually there was nothing interesting to photograph at this point of my walking route.
Then my eyes were drawn to the east end of the farmer’s hayfield. Something was moving. Moving quite rapidly too. The camera’s zoom lens brought my eyes closer. White-tailed Deer. My eyes moved through the group. This was not a solitary animal. There were 7. Quickly, the tripod which had been held between my knees came out. Its legs were extended, and the camera attached. Now, serious photos could be taken.
Then came the realization that they were in the east end of the field because of me. It amazed me how long it took me to really see, really notice what was happening. That thought left quickly. This small herd of deer was much more relevant at the moment. Within seconds the group began moving to the north. Three of them had crossed the road about 100 yards in front of me before it registered. There were better photo chances happening in front of me. It was possible to photograph two on the road at once. A fleeting question came to my awareness, “how did I fail to anticipate they were going to cross the road?” Again, the chance to witness and photograph them was more urgent.
In moments every animal was on the north side of the road. Long legs cover ground rapidly. They moved downhill and gathered in the long grass at the bottom. Since they were still in view and did not seem alarmed, more photos seemed possible. A few quick steps took me to a point halfway from where they crossed the road. The question on my mind now, “how much closer before they run?” The answer came quickly. There was time for two more photos. These were of white tails in the air. I had come too close. My next thought was to walk the road to the east and the top of the hill. I’d follow them. But another thought followed, “No, don’t push them, there could be another time.”
Are they great photos? No, not the quality they should be, light was dim. But they tell the story of a walk in deepening twilight with a surprise of beauty and mystery at the end. The walk was good. The beauty and mystery much better. The deer where completely unexpected, especially a herd of 7.
There is a greater, more profound unexpected. A small herd of 7 white-tailed deer fades to insignificance in comparison. The love of God is unexpected. That God would love me is astonishing. God tells us to be holy, to be righteous. In my heart I know I cannot. I am the opposite of holy. I am a sinner, and you are too. Honestly, what do we deserve? Death. But, God does the unexpected. It is the greatest mystery. It is the most beautiful demonstration of love ever. He died for us. The Creator of the White-tailed deer, and the rest of the universe, allowed himself to be killed. He was killed for us. The Bible says it best. In Romans 5:8 we read these words, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” It is the greatest unexpected of all. It’s the startling truth. Just wanted you to know.