On Christmas day, I had a surreal animal encounter.
At 4:30PM I was returning from a walk through the quiet streets of my quaint suburban town, where the stores in the main square were closed, no one was playing guitar or djembe in the gazebo beside the playground, and silence occupied the cafe patios usually filled with lively chatter.
In the final stretch of my walk, I was leisurely strolling past the large colorful houses on my block -- we do love self expression here -- when I heard a rustling sound behind me to my right. I thought it was a squirrel, since they are plentiful in my tree-lined 'hood, and I paid it no mind.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, a large buck leapt around me, brushing my right arm...then STOPPED RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME AND TURNED AROUND TO FACE ME.
Seriously, I could easily have touched its nose!
The buck stood still as a statue and stared eye to eye with me, unflinchingly. I was so startled I couldn't get oriented quick enough to think anything except, "What is happening?!" All I could do was stand there feeling the shock of his close presence -- his big eyes, muscular body, impressive antlers, and powerful scent.
The buck and I stood like this, literally inches apart, for what felt like a very long time but was realistically around ten seconds, then he darted into the yard beside me and ran off.
Once I got my bearings I looked around to see if anyone else saw what happened, and in the street was a blue minivan stopped with a man and woman inside looking at me wide-eyed and open-jawed. The woman rolled down her window and called out, "UHH WOW!! Merry Christmas to you!"
It was SO shocking. This pic is not mine, but it's the same size and closeness as the buck I encountered. Imagine this beauty brushing by you, then being WITH you, eye to eye, for ten uninterrupted seconds. It is seriously surreal.
I didn't receive any message from the buck, and have no need to research others' ideas of the spirit meaning of a stag. For me it was simply an exquisite gift of magical awe and wonder that came in the form of a buck. I would have had the same shocking delight if it had been a unicorn or a winged elf.
It was a Christmas moment that made gratitude rise like a rushing river within me. Even as I write this, two days later, my heart can only repeat, "Thank you, thank you, thank you."