Deer Strike at 70mph and thoughts about Providence

We have just repatriated our car from Devon.

It was delivered to us yesterday. A week after after our evening rescue from a lay by on the A30 twenty five miles south of Exeter. (A big shout out to Highfield Garage Exeter, they were superb).

We had been on our way to Cornwall and making good time, when a deer ran out of the bushes at the side of the dual carriage and straight into the path of our car.

It was quite an impact, the deer was killed instantly. I’m sure you can see the damage to the car in the photo. Headlights and antlers flew in different directions.

I’ve reflected quite a bit on this experience. Not because we were injured (we weren’t) or shaken (only a little) mainly we were inconvenienced but my reflection has been one of gratitude for the following facts:

I had been looking down at the time and therefore did not scream which would not have helped David.

David kept the car under control very skillfully.

We did not hit the central reservation.

We did not end up in a ditch.

We were not hit from behind as we swerved across two lanes.

The air bags did not go off.

The deer did not come through the windscreen.

There was a layby 500 yards further down the road which we made it to inspite of all the warning lights flashing on the dashboard.

The driver behind us put on his hazard lights and followed us into the lay by to check we were okay.

We had recovery cover and they picked us up in an hour and provided a courtesy car so we reached our desintation only a few hours later than intended.

Why am I writing about this? Well on one level it’s to say ‘take care out there people, the deer population has apparently mushroomed during lockdown’. The twilight hours seems to be particularly the time they might emerge.

But on another level, these kind of things always make me wonder about ‘providence’ or, the ‘grace/presence/hand of God’ in our lives. However you’d like to express it. I can see our accident ‘could have been so much worse’ but if this is God working providentially then why did it happen in the first place? It didn’t turn out so well for the deer after all.

It’s just another route to that difficult question of ‘why do bad things happen in our lives?‘ (JH you know I am thinking of you with compassion when I write that, thanks for being a friend who raises the uncomfortable questions but there are others I know of who are currently asking the same question).

The only answer I’ve reached (so far anway) is: ‘Crap happens‘ – sorry, I’m aware that doesn’t sound either very spiritual or elegant. But it’s such an important truth: rubbish things happen to us in life, sometimes just randomly, and sometimes because of malicious mean people. The reason why this is an important answer is because unless we accept this as a given fact of life then every time we come up against something unpleasant or difficult, we not only have to deal with the unpleasantness, we also have to grapple to the floor our outraged sense of expectation that ‘stuff like this shouldn’t happen to me’!

And all that outrage is wasted energy which very often distances us from the source of help and hope, which is God. We are better off acknowleging this truth that ‘crap happens’. If it helps to know it, the Bible is blunt about this reality. If we read it properly we will hear the many moans of our fellow believers who have walked this way before us struggling to come to terms with the fact that although, ‘Yes there is a God and Yes, that God is loving’ (two affirmatives that deserve capitalisation) – still… ‘crap happens’.

Maybe providence is evidenced in my ability to reflect on all that was good even in a bad situation?

Maybe ‘providence’ (aka God) is present when my outlook is changed? When, in spite of whatever the crappy situation is, I can still give thanks for the good that I can see. When I can still notice goodness in others. When I can reach out for help if I need it and when I can still move forward with more hope than fear because I’ve been given the grace to trust in the quite often ‘unobvious’ presence of the reality of God in world. If that reality is so, then come what may, I’m ultimately ‘okay’ – Paul said that better at the end of Romans 8. You might want to look it up.

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