A Light in the Dark

Photo by Kay Goldstein.  Used with permission.

Some years ago, Kay Goldstein had a white deer appear frequently at her Chapel Hill, NC, residence. The encounter was always one of excitement, wonder, and reverence. Kay remarked: “He may as well have been a unicorn.”

Whole mythologies, or stories, exist around such deer. White animals have always been considered messengers from the spirit or “other” world, a symbol of man’s quest for spiritual knowledge, or a prophecy of things to come.

Kay recounts though: “If I had known nothing of these stories, (the deer’s) appearance in my life would still have been deeply moving. For the white deer evoked in me the world of imagination, spirit, and a reminder of that which is not easily seen in our everyday world.”

One winter afternoon, Kay had an especially meaningful encounter with the white deer. As she sat and meditated on the experience, she “felt a deep heart connection with the (animal), a sense of peace and love.” 

The dreamlike scene reminded her of the coming Solstice.

So many of the “season’s spiritual traditions–Christian, Jewish, pagan–are rooted in the introspection and contemplation of the mid-winter darkness and the hope of the return of light.”  It is “a season that so naturally calls ourselves inward.”

“The compelling presence of (a white deer) makes it easy for us to lose ourselves in the world of fantasy and magic,” Kay wrote. But “for me the white deer’s presence was a profound call to remember that without magic, without opening our heart to wonder, the world is a far darker place.”

“Perhaps it is our greatest human failing to so live in a world of mind and rationalism that we cannot comprehend or experience this other world. There is danger in thinking we can know all things, that what we know with our minds is the only reality.“

“When we cannot embrace the inexplicable and unseen, our world, our spirits are diminished.” It is the closed heart that fails to see hope in despair, gratitude in the midst of deprivation, the soul that resides within each of us.”

Kay ends her thought-journey: “I have not seen the white deer in two years. But in this season of long darkness, the stillness of a winter earth, and the hope for the return of light, I have no doubt that sight unseen, he is still there.”

Note:  Kay Goldstein is a psychotherapist, author, poet, chef, and meditation teacher. This piece is excerpted from an essay called “The White Deer” from Kay’s website: kaygoldstein.com. The site appears to be “under construction” at this time, but a copied version of her entire essay can be read here.