I gasp and point to a few dark figures lingering outside the tree line. We stop walking and strain our eyes-- a family of deer. My heart starts to beat again, and we tiptoe forward.
Chris and I were on a nighttime walk. The riverside path was strangely dark for somewhere nestled into the middle of Atlanta. There were no lampposts, no street lights, nothing but our eyes gradually adjusting to the darkness around us.
Then, about an hour into our walk, we saw them. A family of deer: mom, dad, and three babies, just a few feet away from the path. We stared at them, they stared at us, and gradually, when they decided we weren't dangerous, they returned to munching the grass.
"Come on let's go closer!" Chris tugs my hand.
"No! You'll scare them!" I whisper hoarsely. "Don't make them think we're dangerous!"
"But they don't think we're dangerous, otherwise they would've already run. Besides, don't you want to get closer? What if you could get close enough to pet them?"
"That won't happen."
"You won't know until you try."
I didn't want to go, but I had to admit the idea of being friends with deer intrigued me. So we slowly moved forward. They looked up at us. We stopped. They kept eating. We stepped towards them again, and they stopped again.
We kept up this dance until we were close enough to see the outline of their bristled hair in the darkness. And then, in one sudden motion, they all bounded off into the woods leaving us alone in the dark field.
As Chris and I walked back to the path in defeat, I couldn't help but think that our relationships with humans aren't much different. We long for intimacy and closeness with each other, we want to be able to reach out and touch those around us. And yet, life has taught us to be wary.
We eye each other in the grey darkness, unsure of whether we want to let each other in. And we timidly take steps towards one another because we fear we won't be welcomed.
Our relationships with others, just like our friendship with deer, was destroyed in the Garden of Eden.
Thin places don't have to be lonely places
"I've realized something," my best friend's voice came over the phone. "I've realised I keep missing my friendships back in college and wishing I was back there. But now, here in a new city, I'm not letting people into my life. Not really."
I know what she means. When we're younger for some reason it's easier to confide in one another. We share secrets like trading cards, and unwittingly let people into our lives.
When did it become so hard? When did the walls go up? When did this thin place also become a lonely place with no one who really knows how you feel?
I hear my husband's words ringing in my ears as we walk home, you won't know unless you try.
How would I know who wants to be my friend, who wants to share my burdens, or wants to take my hand, unless I offer it to them? I get tripped up by pride and tackled by fear.
Thin places don't have to be lonely places. Together we can press up towards the heavens, our hands in others' hands, if we're only brave enough to reach out and grab them.