The Fawn: Nature as Cathedral


I was walking on the trail yesterday, when something leaping through the woods startled me. That something was this small fawn! She was prancing joyfully with no care in the world. Her mother was standing nearby watching me watching her baby. Intently watching me. I couldn’t help but wonder if this tiny, beautiful, perfectly-spotted being was the result of the act of creation that I witnessed in this exact space several months ago. I would like to think so. I cannot be sure, of course.
I am nearer to God in these woods than I have ever been elsewhere. Muir writes about Nature being a cathedral and teaching us all we need to know about worshipping. I turn to Mary Oliver to express exactly how I feel about the sacred. I go to the woods and there I meet my brothers and sisters in giving praise.
Some are called by church bells and some are called by birdsong and wind rustling through trees. What is holiness? Mary Oliver shows us:

“The Fawn” by Mary Oliver

“Sunday morning and mellow as precious metal
The church bells rang, but I went
To the woods instead.

A fawn, too new
For fear, rose from the grass
And stood with its spots blazing,
And knowing no way but words,
No trick but music,
I sang to him.

He listened.
His small hooves struck the grass.
Oh what is holiness?

The fawn came closer,
Walked to my hands, to my knees.

I did not touch him.
I only sang, and when the doe came back
Calling out to him dolefully
And he turned and followed her into the trees,
Still I sang,
Not knowing how to end such a joyful text,

Until far off the bells once more tipped and tumbled
And rang through the morning, announcing
The going forth of the blessed.”
From “Twelve Moons”

img_2473Photos taken by me, North Carolina July 2017.

19 thoughts on “The Fawn: Nature as Cathedral

  1. Ah! Yes to the woods, to the doe, to the act of creation, to the fawn, to the singing!! Yes! & thank you for posting these most beautiful words and experiences. This season, early spring, a doe from out herd decided to fawn two in our backyard. We moved them out to the field next door shortly after their birth. To hold a newborn fawn: that is holy!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m wit you entirely! And Mary Oliver, whose work comes close to sacred for me. I adore your first photo of that delicate, tiny fawn captured looking at you through green leaves – oh, those ears! Beautifully done Cheryl ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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