As soon as the man on the other end of the line picked up I started in with my Dial-a-trade spiel. A pause as I wound up, then, “Uh…Ma’am, Dial-a-trade is not on the air today.”
True, that I see deer nearly every time I’m in the woods, and often when I’m not, but the mystery and excitement of spotting wild creatures still lingers. When I saw the shape of a round rump through the trees, I turned abruptly off the path and began creeping through the underbrush, around pines, to see how close I could come. Feeling self-satisfied with my “awareness” as I came within twenty feet of my neighbor, I peered around a tree and found myself staring straight into its wide, brown eyes. With a soft snort, its white tail shot up, and from nearly a dozen thickets around me came answering snorts as a whole herd of deer dashed deeper into the woods. So much for my “awareness”.
A little local color comes fresh from our neighbors down the way. Jeff sits on the edge of his rickety porch, talking eagerly of the Lord’s return through streams of tobacco juice, while his wife, Barb, cuddles a spoiled rat terrier in her fuzzy, pink bath robe. “Have you seen that Alpine Buck?” Jeff asks, ejecting a thin, brown stream. “Alpine buck?” I echo. “Yeah, it’s huge an’ all white. Ya know?” I smile. Albino. Right. “An’ if you hear that ol’ black panther screaming, just walk slowly. Don’t run. He comes through here about March or April of every year.” Duly noted. “You seen any o’ them black bears in your woods?” I shake my head “no”, peering closely to see if he’s just trying to worry me. “Bobcat prints are the biggest I’ve seen,” I offer. He shrugs. “Don’t think they’ll hurt you. ‘Cept that panther might. But he ain’t hurt nobody yet. Just keep an eye out.” I remember how terrified we were after Mom spotted a mountain lion back home one night. Nothing ever came of it. I’ll be watching. I wouldn’t mind seeing a bear or a panther—from a little ways off.
Dathan followed Papa and I home last night and has been quietly doing homework all day. He’s here for the rest of his spring break and to see Donnie, home of furlough. Once upon a time we met him in Arkansas, then he wound up at school in Kansas, and we practically adopted him into our family. Now we’re at home in Arkansas and he’s a resident Kansan. He still feels right at home every time he comes to visit, fitting back in like not a day has passed since he was last here.
The first half of Deuteronomy has detailed Moses’ words to the people before his death, as he recounted to them how the Lord had led them through the wilderness and reminded them of God’s laws. I felt like I was wading through a morass—pointless effort with little reward—until last night when I skimmed back over my own past few months, as detailed in my journal. So often Yahweh performs a miracle before my eyes, yet when the next test comes, I am whining and complaining for fresh water or rebelling against the authority He has put in my life. Each day I can only see a tiny part of His work—His plan—but when I look back on where I have come from, I can see His hand more clearly, His leading defined, His power made evident, every single day. Things that were foggy or confusing, that felt like desert wanderings, begin to take shape. Moses reminds me, “Your own eyes have seen the great work of God, which He did.” At a time like now, when I am beginning to feel parched, dry and far from my destination of perfection, it’s good to be reminded from whence I came and where I am headed and, most importantly, Who it is that leads me.
Lord, I seek Thy promised land
And, guided by Thy awesome hand,
I know that I will come at length,
To paradise, by Thy own strength.
Recount to me what Thou hast done,
Both in the person of Thy Son,
And in my soul since, every day,
That I be strengthened to obey.