The Beauty of a Deer

by Susan Eirich, PhD

I bring him fresh-cut wild rose bushes as he comes over to greet me and daintily pull at the green leaves between the thorns. I stroke his long graceful neck; his smooth chestnut flanks and admire the impossibly long lashes over huge liquid brown eyes. The soft browns and grays that follow the delicate curves of his face. The lovely shape of his ears. The impossibly slender legs.

He twists his flexible neck to peer back intently into my face and arches it against me in companionship. His whole being is a thing of grace and function. An exquisite creation. A little three-legged deer who can run like the wind. How can there be anything so lovely on this earth?

We just can’t be reminded enough of how much beauty there is all around us. It is his very commonness that reminds us that there is beauty everywhere, we who are so often too rushed or numbed or worried to see it. It would ease us. Our human brain adapts to the familiar or the known; is structured to attend to the new and unusual. We adults have to work to see with a child’s wonder. It is a loss that we need to overcome; can overcome, to restore enchantment to our experience of the world.

In Beauty, The Invisible Embrace, John O’Donohue writes, “Without realizing it each day each one of us is visited by beauty, so quietly woven through out ordinary days that we hardly notice it… Beauty is made to seem naïve and romantic (but) much of the stress and emptiness that haunts us can be traced back to our lack of attention to beauty. The Beautiful offers us an invitation to order, coherence and unity…we feel most alive in it’s presence for it meets the needs of our soul.”

Because there are now too many deer doesn’t change the loveliness of any individual deer. Our idea of beauty often changes depending on whether an animal inconveniences us or not. But there is a deeper, less fickle standard that would serve us better.  Each of us 7 billion humans is not ordinary either even though there are too many of us, but each of us has a potential for incandescent beauty.

When they meet him, not just pass by, that young deer just stuns people. There is something about him. In addition to his physical beauty, he is positively luminous. He seems to glow with an inner beauty, and people begin to glow when they meet him, as if an arc of energy has been created.

Deer sniffing man's face
Runs-Like-The-Wind greeting Jean | Earthfire Institute

What is it that he emanates? Rescued from the side of a highway with two broken front legs, his umbilical cord still attached, all he has ever known is humans. Is he offering an innocent, puzzled, heart-rending invitation? Expressing a longing for a herd; a longing that somehow opens his energies to us? That happened with Bluebell our buffalo, who opened herself to humans when she lost her herd. Something changed in her. As an energy healer said upon meeting her, “All I felt was this heart, this huge heart that wanted to be met.” Perhaps they are showing us what it is like to be in a herd, of deer, of buffalo…dozens of hearts emanating; meeting. Maybe it can help us be more aware of the flow of love in a human family, hearts speaking to one another. The energy field of our hearts is forty times that of our brain- it can be measured several feet out. Perhaps the buffalo and deer are in each other’s heart-field and that is what is the deer is transmitting, simple and pure. I have cared for other deer and buffalo and know this can change as hormones rage. But underneath that is what there is. Simple love that evokes a glowing response.

As we enter in any aspect of nature the wonder just increases. I could as easily have written about other animals: Teton Totem the grizzly bear in his prime; my golden mustang, a splendid white wolf and ask again: How can there be anything so wondrous on this earth? You can get lost into any of them, going down, down, down, in and through a portal into a universe of singular wonder. It is always there. It is just waiting for us to see it. Be healed by it. Have it illuminate our lives.

I so want to share with you, my fellow humans, the beauty of the animals and the Earth. To enjoy it together, marvel at it, be healed by it; be moved to treat the wonder of creation with great respect. We would be healed then, humans, animals and the Earth. What we do not attend to cannot reach us. That little deer calls us to attend.

Dr. Susan Eirich is the Founder and Executive Director of Earthfire Institute Wildlife Sanctuary and Retreat Center. A licensed psychologist, biologist and educator, her goal is to widen the circle of conversation about conservation to include the voices of all living beings.

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