Born to Die
As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God. – Psalm 42:1 (NRSV)
In Pennsylvania when I grew up, the first Monday after Thanksgiving was the opening day of deer season. Deer hunting season, to be clear. Deer hunting with a firearm, to be specific, not a bow-and-arrow or muzzleloader (which have their own seasons). Our public school district was always closed that Monday so young hunters could head out to the woods and the state lands to nab a deer on opening day.
Perhaps it’s a bit brutal (or at least insensitive) to reflect on the slaughter of white-tailed deer alongside a Bible verse about deer flourishing, but the Advent season has a similar overshadowing of brutality and bitter irony, if we stop long enough to consider it:
The promised Emmanuel would inevitably be executed.
The longed-for child was born with the certainty of death. So was the deer. So were you. So was I. And between birth and death, we pant for water. For life. For peace. For the reassurance of holy presence.
Only one did not have that longing between birth and death. Only one did not thirst for God. Only one did not wonder if God was lost or hidden. Only one was the Well itself, the Stream itself, the Satisfaction itself. Only one was the very Holy Presence that the rest of us desperately long to drink deeply.
That one died too, but oh! How sweet that one’s life! How beautiful the peace of the one unafraid of hunters! And how delicious the promise that we too might live with such satisfaction!
Satisfy my thirst and set me free from fear, Ever-flowing Stream.