We were running, my four-legged mate and I, as is our normal routine. Left, right, left, right my steps as she scouts the path in the lead. Her focus on the scents left by others to decipher what critters they may have been. My focus became the frozen stance in the middle of the trail ahead. Its body spoke of confidence, though it may have been afraid. Its body whispered if I am still and unseen, they may turn and walk the other way.
Becoming motionless to match its posture, we stopped our forward pace. My running mate took her cue from me as I quietly spoke, stay. It moved from right to left and then blended into the surroundings. Still visible, barely, as its camouflage of brown masked the trees. Perhaps it is the sacredness of Nature that compelled me to continue to observe where it might next go. I often marvel in awe when Nature’s messengers allow me to get close.
Slowly, steadily, it began moving towards us in curiosity, making periodic pauses to discern if we were trustworthy. Sensing are hearts meant no harm, it continued stepping our way. Cautious, yet sensing our respect, it continued its forward pace. At a certain point, it decided the woods was beckoning it to enter and hide. Still calm and not hurried, into the tree line it turned to no longer be in our sight. Namaste’ dear deer and thank you for the opportunity to share your home for a few minutes today. Thank you for the trust in us you gave.
As we started running again, I thought of the incredible stories I have been hearing. I thought about the power of listening, or not listening. I thought about the military veterans I have been blessed to meet. I thought about veterans that struggle to believe their story is worthy. I thought about the painful wounds that are not seen visibly. Once again reminded of one of my mantras there is always more than we initially see.
How many times do we focus on the goal we have in mind not pausing to see? In our “run” to our goal, is there a chance we aren’t noticing? Maybe there is someone standing still who doesn’t want to bolt in fright? Perhaps, like the deer, the person would like to feel safe near your side. The deer has an instinct, a learned trait that makes the deer leery of human beings. Similar to us humans who have experiences and learned behaviors that make us fearful of others’ judging.
What if we paused to observe not from the shoes in which we wear but from the steps in which the other treads? What if in our encounters we acted much more like the guests? My running mate and I could have behaved as if it was “our” trail and the deer was passing through. Instead, that we were running through its house we knew. All three of us mutually honoring we were not the same – all three different species sharing the same space.
Hearts speak much without words, if we are open to hearing…and listening. My running mate and I never talked as the deer was approaching. Both of our hearts beat to the rhythm you can trust we do no want to hurt you. The deer matched with its heartbeat I believe you and you can trust me too. There is a time to be still and listen when someone wishes to speak. Other times it is more powerful to listen without vocally communicating. To observe another with compassion bestows an honor of acceptance for the other to be who they are without critique. It creates that safe space for someone to walk with pride and dignity.
They next time you are running from point A to point B, perhaps pause, stand still, and observe your surroundings. Do you see anyone who is standing still, tentatively? What would happen if you softly spoke with your eyes its okay? What would happen if they then started to walk your way?