Four or five deer in the headlights, walking away from the road into the pasture.   They all crane necks to glance back toward the light.   Hooves lift lightly over corn stubble.  A hint of blowing snow in the headlight.

I remember some scene from a Christmas card:  deer and other creatures from the wild wander into the frame where the Nativity has for a moment caught their attention,  taught them to talk, and lightened their hearts from all fears.   They’re in Narnia and the King is finally walking the land.

Memory shifts.  I’m a teenager, running through backyards after dark on vacation, in mischief but only slight mischief.   That year, that last year when my daily bread simply appeared, by magic, as it always had.

Back to now.  The deer look together at me, look away, together, then move together out of frame away into the treeline.   I wish for them that life is not sudden death on the highway, or the bullet tearing arteries in mid-chew, but rather heart failure in sleep.   Lord, let their hearts just stop in your time, in a dream of clover, an hour before the herd stirs at dawn, and take them one by one to decorate your creche.


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