Friday 29 October 2010

A prayer for deer-whistling?

Latest gadget acquired for living in the wild west of Scotland: deer whistles for the cars (£5 on ebay)

The item in question is a small plastic whistle (well, a pair of whistles) which you stick onto the front grille of the car. The idea is that once you go above about 30 or 40 miles per hour, it emits a whistle pitched to annoy deer (and other furry road-kill-in-waiting) and they dodge off the road before you drive into them. It was recommended by a lady clippie on the Colintraive-Rhubodach ferry who wrote off a car recently driving into a stag. So, a heart-felt recommendation.

When the whistles came, I tried blowing through them and they - wait for it - emitted a whistle! I was a little worried how irritating this might be whilst driving, and what if you had a cat or a dog in the car? Would they be driven into a frenzy by the sound?

I installed them onto the cars' grilles (as shown above) and duly set off to Bute, speed varying from 20mph to (a wee bit over) 60 mph (allegedly). No whistling sound to be heard above the engine/road/wind noise. That was fine - no annoyance from the whistles.

But wait! Are they working at all? Blowing them with your mouth is a concentrated wind, directed straight into the whistle. Hoping that general air flow on the front of the car will cause the same or a similar effect? I started watching birds and animals to see if they behaved oddly as I drove past. The pheasants (collective IQ minus 30) dodged away - but they always do. I started to wonder if these things work at all, had I fitted them properly, what was it all about.

So I found myself reflecting on other things like that. Like prayer. Does it work? When we do it, as we ask for something for ourselves or others, do we look and see if it happens. If a desired outcome happens (the deer dodges away) is it the prayer, or was it going to happen anyway? Putting a deer whistle on a car can give a sense of security through having taken action - one feels better. Is prayer just as subjective - it makes us feel better? Or does it objectively change things around us/with us and God?

Of course, prayer is a dialogue with God, a way of growing our mutual relationship and encounter with our creator - and there is so much more to prayer than asking for things. But it is still good to just DO it, rather than to analyse in minute detail what it is we think we are doing.

As Ali said to me, 'After I fitted the deer whistle, I started seeing fewer and fewer deer by the road.' We can take the advice of those who have walked before us and walk alongside us. A praying way of life is a Christian way of life that works - just ask anyone who is living that way of life.

And I will continue to assume that it is better to have a deer whistle on your car than to not have one!


  1. Wonderfully divergent thinking here!

  2. You probably haven't been troubled by Elephants either.

    Steve in Thornbury

  3. Love your blog! Greetings from across the pond.

  4. You will know the story of the elephants?

    A Commuter travelled every day from Brighton to London and at a certain spot threw his newspaper out of the window. After some weeks a fellow traveller asked why he did this to which he replied "It keeps the elephants away" To which his astonished companion explained "But there are no elephants here!" It proves it works" the commuter repled.

    Best of luck anyway I had dear on the bonnet twice - 0nce along Lock Eck and the other time near Ben More Gardens. The insurance excess was bitter enough to swallow but my Insurers record the incidence as MY Fault.