How Road Kill Became My Love Language
“Dear Jesus, please help my daddy find a fresh roadkill.”
My six-year-old son offered this prayer from the back seat one morning as we prayed through our daily prayer. It caught me completely off guard. While it wasn’t completely out of context, it hadn’t dawned on me how much I must’ve been putting words to the desire.
I grew up in the suburbs out East, playing golf and wearing argyle socks (with matching sweaters). God baptized me with wilderness when he led me west after college. The mountains were, and have been, the geography of my initiation and validation as a man.
John and I took up hunting over a decade ago and learned everything from square one: asking questions, logging miles and failing over and over and over again. One day, well into a hunt, with more miles than we could count on our boots and deep in the wilderness, John stopped, turned to me and said:
“What?” was my only response. What the hell could a typewriter have to do with this moment?
John elaborated: “We might as well be carrying a typewriter through these woods!”
I busted out laughing, ruining the 1% chance we had of actually seeing an elk. His comment uncorked the absurdity of it all as I realized what a huge advantage these wild and majestic creatures had over us neophyte-suburgatory guys in the woods. After that conversation, John christened our hunting with a new name: “Armed Hiking.”
We learned to not take this newfound pursuit so seriously, finding ourselves at the base of a learning curve as steep and towering as Denali.
What was I to do with the intensity of my desire to have meat in the freezer? I dreamed about harvesting my own animal—packing it out, preparing it into steaks, jerky, brats and feeding my family from my own sweat and strength. Yet the further we waded into the challenge of backcountry bow hunting, the dimmer the likelihood of actually harvesting an animal became.
Then one day the answer to my empty freezer hit me: road kill. At first it seemed barbaric and a bit irrational. But deep in the recesses of my heart lived the anecdote an old-timer and hunting friend shared about the road kill pack he kept in the back of his suburban – tarps, ropes and knives, ever-ready should an opportunity present itself.
And I got to thinking… I spend days upon days chasing these majestic animals only to return to suburbia and watch monster bucks with a mouthful of petunias from Mrs. Clayton’s flowerbed mosey down my street. So when some minivan lays down yet another beautiful creature because the driver was on her cell phone during carpool just at the moment that a deer lumbers across main street to munch from another flower pot, could it be that God, the Father, is setting up an opportunity of Kingdom proportions for me and the freezer He loves?
I guess my kids picked up on it. Aware of how much I wanted a “wild” animal and the chance to put my own blade to it, my son decided to pray for “roadkill for daddy” during our morning prayers.
It all happened the day after Thanksgiving as we headed north to cut down the family Christmas tree. The old truck was filled with budding traditions—hot chocolate in a thermos, easy cheese and clubhouse crackers wedged between the seats, and we were rolling along to a country rendition of “A Holly Jolly Christmas.”
And, NOT TWENTY SECONDS after Joshua prayed, asking God once again for a roadkill, we rounded the corner of Ute Valley Park and saw a buck on the side of the road with parts of some lady’s SUV scattered across Vindicator Blvd. Instinctively, I made an illegal U-turn, pulled over at the nearest side street, and raced to the scene with kids and wife on my heels.
The buck was just expiring; the lady was a mess. And Jesus was there.
“Ma’am, it’s okay. I’m sorry for your accident. I’m glad you are okay. And ma’am, this buck is in good hands. I’m a volunteer with the Colorado Division of Wildlife (which is true) and I would be glad to help take care of this animal for you.”
Plans changed. My gracious wife just smiled and shook her head, and my little kids and I heaved this buck into the back of the old truck. Minutes later it was hanging in the garage, and we had set sail on an adventure that would shape our family culture for the rest of our lives.
Love is pursuing me.
It’s the only way I can explain the sheer goodness and the intimacy that finds me in the midst of battle; we are being pursued by love.
God is pursuing us, coming after us, moving toward us in an utterly unique and intimate way. In our love language. Mine is roadkill.
Not the baked jerky you’re thinking of—some skunk flattened to the pavement and cooked for days in the sun. I’m talking about healthy game meat, swiftly killed, waiting for some guy with enough courage and humility to pick it up and make good use of it.
God also speaks to me through open spaces yet to be tamed, antler sheds found on remote south facing slopes telling tales of giant animals that still roam free, water cascading on mountain streams creating pockets and seams for wild, heroic brookies, the touch of my daughter’s skin, watching my wife’s body move as she leads others in a yoga class, the view of endless mountain ranges from a talus slope high above timberline…
How about for you?
Your language of pursuit might not be roadkill. But it’d be good to dig deep in your heart, wonder what it is, believe that He wants to cultivate it and look for Him to come and come and come again in this intimate way. There He can meet you, and me, in the midst of so many unanswered questions and whisper affectionately, “I love you.”
Editors note: for more blogs from Morgan check out his website becomegoodsoil