Arrested

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He simply appeared in the road. I’d just rounded the curve of the running trail. Up ahead about fifty meters, the running trail rejoined the asphalt road that led back to post. But the sight of him took my breath. I felt arrested by a drama I’d not scripted.

His coat was perfect camouflage, the colors of the oak woods from which he’d come. The main beams of his rack were flawless khaki-white, proud and upright. The grain lines of his antlers reminded me of cedar boards my stepfather and I had built with when I was a child.

I felt my heart race, and I was helpless to slow it. I was caught in a fleeting drama, precious because I knew it could not last. I’d stopped—no, frozen—in my steps. I tried to slow my breathing so that he would not bolt into the woods. He, too, froze. His black eyes had a quality of fury and mystery that engendered wonder.

I’ve spent years hunting for such a buck. I’ve killed bigger ones, but this moment—these seconds of rapt mystery, wherein the wild and beautiful jolted me from the mundane, quickened me. Into what? Recognition.

What would a skeptic say—that this is just a chance occurrence, of no significance, a random event devoid of overarching meaning?

But I did not think that—not when it happened, or even now. Instead, I think heaven discharges intimations of the artist, the artist who ordains our steps and arrests them, with sights that make some tremble with mystery.

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