The stag and I communed for what seemed like an endless time. I thanked him for sharing his trail with me and praised his beauty again and again. I told him I would leave him gifts of salt, which I knew deer needed.
But far more than mental words, our communication consisted of a surge of energy around my heart, as if I slowly expanded like a balloon being blown up that might soon levitate off the ground. This sense of pulsing air felt like electricity crackling between us. All I knew to do was to simply dwell in it and experience a living meditation of vitality, like an existence of pure delight.
When our time together felt complete, I mentally bowed to him and he slowly trotted off, glancing back at me twice while I wistfully watched. When he disappeared around the curve of the path, I dug in my backpack and found treats from Hawaii, salty plums called li hing mui. I gratefully dropped them along the trail for him to enjoy.
I’ve been blessed to be close to other wild creatures in the woods, ones who also walked near me: a bobcat and a coyote. But the communion was one-way. I was alone and meditating both times downwind, so they didn’t perceive me, and seemed to come near accidentally. But, like the stag, I was enthralled by their awe-inspiring presence, fearless. Intentionally silent and still, I allowed the animals to approach while I bathed in the glory of moving fur over brawny muscles and their alert wildness.
When they were within ten feet, I made a tiny movement with my fingers, nothing aggressive to alarm them. But, with that miniscule crook of two fingers, they instantly disappeared, so quickly they might have been apparitions, absorbed into the ether.
They had no desire to stay with me. But the stag sought me out and stood with me a long while, staring in my eyes. He might have been what the Hawaiians call an aumakua, my spiritual friend or deity in nature. That’s exactly what he felt like. Many times aumakua are holy ancestors. The majestic stag might have been a super-cool great-grandfather. Or perhaps, he was my father who came back to watch over me, alone on the mountain. At the thought, my eyes watered and tears began to stream, my heart overflowing with love and grief. I sent him another prayer, this one watery and sloppy, but more heartfelt.