Pete's delightful deer story
this morning took me back to a cold winter's evening in Jefferson Barracks Cemetery in St. Louis a few years ago.
I was looking at the sad sight of row upon row of graves, many dating back to the Civil War but many also of far more recent provenance. Some of these newer graves were marked by flowers in remembrance, placed there earlier in the day.
Bright and colorful, these offerings of love and respect to a lost relative.
To us, sacred and moving.
To a deer, food.
As the park emptied and light darkened, herds of deer began to move among the grave stones.
Nosing, sniffing - do deer enjoy the scent of a rose? - and then eating those reverent flowers.
For them, no association whatsoever with melancholy of the cemetery and stones laid therein.
I felt a strange mix of emotions as I watched this, for the simple act of devouring the flower turned its meaning on its head.
An offering, yes, but of quite a different nature from its original intention.
But, really, was it any less meaningful?
It was giving life.
If anything, it was more so.