Yesterday I had an unexpected encounter. Living in a village with the fresh country air and the nearby farmers fields, I usually enjoy my morning walk to the train station. I observe the changes of the season, the morning sky dimming day by day as autumn-winter sets in, and the yellow, red and brown leaves littered across the footpaths. The morning of the encounter was no exception.
I left the house, breathed in the cool air and began to walk. I enjoyed the fresh breath of Mother Nature against my face, a revitalising wake up call. My winter boots kept my feet warm and snug and my body was grateful for my raincoat that was wrapped around me, blocking the spitting wetness of the drizzle.
I wasn’t my usual mindful self as I walked to the station, my mind heavy in thought and feeling of recent circumstances. I noted the sway of the branches of the trees near the village parade, as if the trees were shivering. I said hello to a fellow villager who sneezed a reply, clearly possessing the turn of season cold.
The sky was fairly light but murky. The signs of the village pubs flapped about in the wind. The parish church sat calmly, picturesque architecture at the centre of the village. I carried on walking, avoiding standing too near to the side of the road by puddles, for fear of getting splashed by passing cars.
Through the footpaths I travelled, darting here and there as the paths rose and fell in quick alternation. Then downhill I walked towards the last road crossing and up the hill through the woodlands leading to the station.
As I entered the copse, I took a customary glance to my right. For the past couple of years, I have always done this. I’ve looked into the clearing in the woods which is an unbelievable view. Whilst it is a fairly small patch of woodland, it tells the clearest of stories of seasonal change. From the end of last year where I saw it sparkling with ice crystals, I also saw it through the first shoots of spring and then suddenly alive with bluebells. I’ve seen dogs dance around with their owners and the falling of the leaves to mark the return of the cold season and the dulling of the bright green leaves of summer to autumnal brown.
This time as I glanced right, I had an unexpected encounter. At first I could not believe my eyes that I thought I was dreaming. I then looked curiously to see if what I was seeing was real or a statue. Staring right back at me was a beautiful deer. Its coat was a gold tawny colour and it looked peaceful as it stood in the clearing. And then to my surprise, behind it was another deer. I stood still and looked at both of them in turn, directly in their doey eyes. We all were calm. We all sensed a kinship of being living beings of this world and universe and for those couple of minutes, I felt there was a basis of understanding. Of life. Of recognising the life within each other.
I sensed another morning walker coming up the hill and began to continue my morning walk as the breaking of eye contact and my movement caused the two deers to spring up and away into the distance, their fluffy white behinds bobbling about as they darted further.
I couldn’t help but smile as I continued my walk. It was an unexpected encounter, but it is not often that we get to look for any length of time into another’s eyes to really feel a sense of understanding and kinship. It is something incredibly amazing and rewarding. To recognise another’s life and feeling and existence. To recognise another’s energy and to remember that we share this world. We may not be exactly the same, but on so many levels we are similar – sentient beings of this universe.