Stories from the Road: Deer Without Fear

My mother’s relationship with the deer in her community has been fodder for a great many of my articles over the years.  She has named half a dozen of them.  They give birth in her yard.  They eat out of her hand.  They watch her from outside her kitchen window and start gathering in the back yard when she approaches the door.  Cattle feed and watermelon rinds will do that, apparently.

My mother is the gentlest soul I know.  Seeing her interact with the deer kind of makes sense, in a weird sort of way.  Dad’s relationship with them is somewhat more puzzling.  Although certainly a gentle soul himself, Dad was the one who taught me to aim a rifle at one of these creatures and shoot to kill.  I spent my entire childhood staring up at the mounted head of a deer the size of a small cow.  My dad’s work.  I ate many a mess of chicken fried steak made with venison — cooked by my mom, so I guess she is complicit as well, in a way.  And now the great deer slayer is feeding them cantaloupe — not to fatten them up, but just because it is pleasant, peaceful way to pass a decade or two.

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You are what you eat

Perhaps you have heard of “food deserts.”  The term refers to places where people have limited (or less) access to grocery stores and other sources of healthy food.  Now there are “food swamps” — that is, where food is plentiful, just not nourishing.  Food swamps feature lots of gas stations, fast-food joints, and other places that promote obesity and bad eating habits.  No farmer’s markets or kale smoothie shops, though.

Studies differ with regard to whether proximity to grocery stores is actually an indicator of general health.  (They sell Snickers bars at Publix, you know.)  But there’s certainly a case to be made that the food’s quality may be as much a factor as its availability.

“Food” is relative — whether the food is carnal or spiritual.  We can pat ourselves on the back all we want for “going to church” or even “reading the Bible.”  But if we are not nourishing our spirits, what good is any of it?  A preacher who does not “preach the word” (2 Timothy 2:2), substituting human philosophy and personal opinions, may be doing more harm than good.  Reading for five minutes just to say you did it, without an eye for application or contextual understanding, may be feed a sense of “fullness” that is completely misleading.

With that in mind, consider the following spiritual nutrition tips:

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