All summer long and into the fall a big beautiful doe and her young fawn have visited our backyard, eating the corn and apples we set out and giving us so much enjoyment in watching them.    Occasionally, another doe comes around, but she is different – very sickly looking.  Her fur is quite a bit darker in comparison to the other deer and she has a large growth that protrudes from under her jaw, giving her face a distorted look.  She is very thin with every rib outlined on her body.

It takes her a long time to eat the corn.  She pauses often to lick her back as if something pains her there.  I suspect the tumor on her jaw prevents her from eating enough to keep her healthy and fit.  She moves very slowly, always alone.  If she happens to come when the mother and her fawn are around, they want nothing to do with her.  She seems to sense that and stays back out of their way, eating what is left after they leave.

Although I have always felt sorry for the sickly one, she never excited me like the other deer.  However, I have grown to love her, and I watch for her every day now.  I wish I could touch her and help her somehow.  I am concerned that she won’t make it through the winter.  She makes me feel sad as I wonder if she is in pain, if she has adequate shelter and if she is lonely.

Of course, I am projecting my human feelings onto her, but as one of God’s creatures, how different is she from me, really?  We both breathe the same air, feel the same warmth from the sun, need to eat and drink and rest.  We both need safety and shelter.

All I know is that I ask God to watch over her, protect her and take care of her while I make sure she has enough corn to eat when she comes around.  That is all I can do for her and hopefully that is enough.

I wonder how many other misshapen creatures of humanity wander through our backyards – people who are needy, poor, sick, who look different than the rest of us, people who are lonely, ostracized and marginalized.  They are in all of our backyards, so to speak.  Can we move beyond pity and grow to love them too?  Can we reach out to them somehow to make them feel welcome and accepted?  Can we provide them with safety and shelter?

We can’t reach everyone.  We can’t do it all but we can do something, however small it might be.  How might God be calling us to set out little piles of corn and apples for those who may wander through our backyards?