SURPRISE: An Animal of the Year? Yes
Already my quote of the year has been active: “Plan to be surprised.” from the movie Dan in Real Life. This week I am surprised I am sharing with you about my animal of the year instead of my word of the year. I will share the word next week – at least that is my plan 🙂
Why an animal? Sometimes I miss the obvious, and have just realized that after many unusual encounters with animals over the years, there may be seasons where God speaks to me through a particular animal or aspect of nature. Now I am thinking back over the years. For two years in a row, a particular animal appeared six times. It was unusual, and some of the encounters were very unique and direct answers to prayer. When I researched the symbolism of the animal, it helped me during the time when I was seeking my identity in Christ. Now I am more aware and noting the spiritual significance in the natural world. We are both spiritual and physical beings.
One of the most encouraging things in my life happened after five long months of grieving and darkness. I finally got the courage and faith to start an art project inspired by Rabindranath Tagore’s quote, “Faith is the bird that sings while dawn is still dark.” I was like a little sparrow trying to sing in the dark, so I asked God to give me some sparrow photo reference for the painting. That Saturday, a family of a mother sparrow and three babies stayed on our patio floor all morning while I took photos through the glass window. To this day it reminds me of God’s tender care for us as individuals and that He is involved in even the little things. To God, I matter.
Another time, during a particularly stressful time of stepping out and risking, working on a difficult project that took nearly a year, hummingbirds would regularly visit. It happened only that year. They seemed to be talking to me as they hovered at eye level directly in front of my face. Sometimes the little bird seemed to scold me, sometimes encourage me to keep going, and sometimes to remind me to take a break and have some fun.
So when a deer, doe in particular, appeared twice in unique ways in November and December it caught my attention. Also, during that time I was reading through The Passion Translation of Song of Songs and had highlighted the metaphors of the deer. I wondered if and how the animal related to my word theme for 2016.
After I had finished the drawings for the Colorful Blessings coloring book, my husband and I went to the coast for a couple of days. One morning I took a long walk on the beach, praying, listening, noticing the ebb and flow of the tide, more extreme at that point when the tide is turning. I walked a long way and reached a place where I was alone on the beach, except for a lone doe walking through the shallow water of the surf, much like I was with my rubber boots. It wasn’t something I had seen in all my years of walking on the beach. It walked out of the surf onto the sand and stood still for a very long time. We looked at each other before it sprang into action and disappeared into the woods. I asked God what it might mean. I felt Him smile, “You love a mystery.” I smiled and knew I would be researching the symbolic meaning of a doe.
The deer symbolizes grace, compassion, gentleness and natural beauty. It is free. The doe has feminine qualities and independence, alertness and energy. The deer uses gentleness to lead and guide through love and understanding. Wisdom and innocence. In the Song of Songs deer and gazelle are symbols of the joys of love.
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