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Grace

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Grace

This Scenic Route column was originally published in January, 1996, Sandy’s second ever for The River Journal.

Sometimes, I get so frustrated, I can hardly contain my anger ... okay, can’t contain my anger. I can go for days, absorbing little blows and large; then something sends me over the edge, and kaboom! … I’m not fit company even for myself.

I reached that point recently. Bambi jumped out in front of me night before last and as I swerved to miss him, his companion, Bambette, did a header into my passenger door and didn’t have the grace to die on impact. She lay thrashing in the road and I had to kill her with the ax I carry behind the seat.

 Fragile, innocent and stupid, Bambette was more like me than I want to admit. For being in the wrong place at the wrong time, her life blood seeped onto the pavement of Highway 200. My crime was similar, but my punishment was acting as executioner. Killing a crippled deer that just did a thousand dollars’ damage to my truck in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere with a blinkin’ ax seems worthy of entertainment in Hell.

When the doe was dead, I walked back to my truck and flung the ax into the bed, so angry I could hardly think. I slammed my fist down on the siderail and yelled at the sky, “I want something for this! For having to do this, I want something!”

There was no immediate answer.

Two days after the death of Bambette, I wake up angry and wondering if God is angry at me. If He were to drop me a postcard to say He was sorry about the deer, I might be less inclined to blame Him for random events that pile up in my life until the vein in my temple begins to pulsate. In the meantime, I want to hand Him the whole mess and say, “Please, do something about this,” but even if I could, I’m not exactly sure what I would have God do.

Then, it occurs to me that it may already be done.

A few days before the deer died, I stared out my kitchen window as I waited for Mr. Coffee to do his work at a miniature ruby that had appeared in my back yard. As I marveled at that tiny red light in a gray landscape, it changed to an emerald, a diamond, lapis, a sapphire and back to a ruby.

The rising sun was funneling to me through a minuscule prism of frozen water. When I considered the forces that brought me that moment—the trajectory of the sun through the galaxy, the spin of the planet, the forming of the ice crystal and my own unwitting placement of myself—I thought, “What a gift!”

Now, I am wondering, “Was it delivered early?”

Our concepts of time, grace and justice are our own, and I sometimes think we have no real clue about how the universe works. Try as we might, there is no way around anguish and anger in our lives. We all face tasks and trials we might rather skip. Defusing the stress is what I might best address, rather than relief from the grief.

But a little comfort would be nice; a hug, reassurances. An invitation to breakfast with a friend and a long talk over coffee would be good. They needn’t solve the problems, if they will just listen. I actually have those things at my disposal. All I need to do is go out and get them, and the way I can get them is by offering them to others.

I recall my rant in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night, and I’m able to laugh. I’m probably not known for humility or diplomacy in God’s heart. It is with gratitude, though, that I enjoy the memory of the miniature rainbow under the tree in my back yard. I will remember that few seconds for a long time, perhaps longer than I’ll remember those minutes in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere.

Frustration, anguish and sacrifice are as much a part of life and as real as the blood that ran across the centerline. So is that beautiful moment in my kitchen, and the many other times when I have looked up to find some grand gift handed to me by the universe, brought on by that same seemingly random series of events that makes up our lives, bringing us both grief and joy.

So, perhaps I did get something for having to kill that deer after all—these words, a moment of grace, a look inside myself, and the prepayment of a set of jewels lying under the tree in my back yard.

Sandy Compton’s books, Jason’s Passage, Archer MacClehan & the Hungry Now and Sidetrips From Cowboy can be purchased online here.

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Author info

Sandy Compton Sandy Compton Sandy Compton is one of the original contributors to The River Journal, and owner and publisher at Blue Creek Press (www.bluecreekpress.com). His latest book is Side Trips From Cowboy: Addiction, Recovery and the Western American Myth

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wildlife, driving, The Scenic Route

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