We have a baby fawn in our neighborhood. A three-legged one.
First spotted outside the kitchen window picking her way through the flowers in our garden, she peeked her perfect little head just over the shrubs, fixing her chocolate brown eyes on us. It wasn’t until she began to move that we realized her rear leg was broken. Having endured a broken leg myself, it made my stomach turn just to look at it. But there she was, seemingly unaware of her impaired limb as she made her way from bush to bush, snacking all the while.
We called for help, to no avail. The humane society wouldn't come try and rescue an injured deer on the move. All we could do, they said, was to keep an eye on her.
And so the vigil began. Since that first encounter we’ve watched for her daily appearances, carefully chronicling her well-being. Is she alone? Has the herd rejected her? Does she appear to be in pain, or immobile?
No to all of the above.
It seems that our little three-legged fawn is pretty resilient, which probably shouldn't come as a surprise. Homo sapien and animalia alike, we have a way about us that makes us go on in spite of life's difficulties. And whether those difficulties come in the form of broken limbs, broken families, or broken hearts, we manage to pick ourselves up and get on with the business of living. It’s just what we do.
I heard Rachel Naomi Remen tell a story once about her encounter with a small, green leaf growing out the side of a concrete wall on the streets of New York City. She stopped in her tracks to consider the tenacity with which the plant was imbued, given its obvious hostile environs. To her, it exemplified the very nature of life — a will to live. To exist. To push our way into the world and flourish.
We all have that. Just like the leaf and the baby deer, our innermost selves know how to guide us toward that ray of hope and fortification we need to endure.
And though our struggles may at times seem solitary, they are not. Struggling is what we have in common with every other living thing. Maybe just knowing this — that we are not alone in our endeavor to exist — is enough.
Or maybe it is enough to simply know, with gratitude, that we are alive.
All of us.