Thursday, July 10, 2008

Miracle of the White Deer

by Patty O'Neil Palmer, SFO

I want to share a little miracle with all of you. It is a tiny part of the Katrina Stories we all experienced in 2005

On the afternoon of July 21, 2005, Bob and I were at home, at our farm. Outside of our bedroom window one can see our grotto of St. Francis. It was hot, as only the deep south can experience in July. I came inside to cool off and grab a short nap.

Bob woke me up. He was excited and told me to hurry and peek out the window. We both stood bewildered and dumbfounded at what we saw. There, in broad daylight, was a breathtaking snow-white doe, peacefully grazing near St.Francis. It wasn’t an albino because it had brown eyes.

I was not completely sure the deer was real. I’m still not. It was perfection in every way. Deer are never snow white. Wild deer never show themselves in the daytime, unless they are pets of some kind. Never, in 30 years, have deer been that close to my house. That was a Thursday.

On Saturday, July 23rd 2005, there was a Regional meeting. This meeting was special because national visitation was scheduled. I believe Father Loren Connell OFM attended. Much happened that day, so I am told. Our canonical establishment was delayed. We were heartbroken.

Yet the mystical, white deer continued to visit often, during the next days. We were overjoyed! Then, Bob and I briefly left the farm for a family reunion with his brothers. We returned mid-day August 27, 2005. You know the rest of the story. Katrina bore down on us all Monday, August 29, 2005.

Standing in the wreckage that was our home, I felt that nothing would ever be the same again. If I ever felt total despair, about my entire life, it was the last week of August 29, 2005.

Everything was gone. Our SFO community was scattered and homeless. My family, children and friends had to stay where they fled for safety. My home was uninhabitable. My daughter’s home was destroyed. Two sons were homeless. Grandchildren were in school in Alabama, not New Orleans. Bob had fallen from the roof, broken his leg and was helpless in a cast. Dear ones were reported dead or lost. It is the story we all share.

I never expected to see my mystery deer again. I was sure it probably perished in the storm. The deer, however, was seen again….luminous, white in its perfection. Yes, it was still alive. What Joy!

The day came when members of Our Lady of the Pearl were able to gather at Ann Seale`s to share our pain and receive strength from each other. This was the last time I saw the white deer.

Jeff felt it was the sign of new beginnings for the SFO. What I am sure of is that it was a miracle called hope sent to all from the lover, St. Francis and his best friend Jesus. This is why I need to share.

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