In the waiting


I’m watching, waitng for the sun to break through the skeletal trees standing as sentinels along the horizon. On most occasions waiting coffee with in hand is peace-filled, anticipating the day ahead, the world and I waiting in silence together.

Today as I watch and wait, I am challenged to find exactly where the sun will break through. There are no clouds to reflect the grow of the sun as it breaches the gap and I am left to my memory of the day before for both time and location.

In the waiting I am reminded this is the liturgical season of Advent, the time the church sets aside waiting for the arrival of Christ. Four Sundays designed to remind us of the journey and the generations the Jewish people waited for the arrival of the prophesied messiah. We have an advantage – we know how the story progresses. We know the baby will arrive from a teenage mom at an unlikely time in an unlikely time.

As the sun finally peeks through I realize how far off my prediction was. The glow broke though much further west than expected. Still glorious but where I was looking was wrong. Even more, while I was expecting the first light to break through 12 minutes before the hour, it was another 10 before the barest glimpse made it through the undergrowth. Not only did I have to wait for the place to be revealed, I had to wait even longer for it to actually happen.

I was wrong about the where and I was wrong about the when.

With the tradition of Advent we have the benefit of knowing where and when and I’m drawn to how complex things would have been for the Jewish community when Jesus entered into it. A whole people group waiting ultimately looking for the wrong thing in the wrong place and possibly at the wrong time.

I wonder if that time of waiting for the messiah would have been more akin to our waiting and longing for the end of this pandemic? The people then were waiting for someone powerful to arrive, to fix everything, defeat this enemy, remove this oppression once and for all. Is that not akin to what we face now every day in a pandemic stricken world?

You: Vulture. Pohtaytoe: Pohtahtoh

Before you turn away in disgust, never to visit this blog again, hear me out.

God made a unique creature to fill a very specific role, a purpose only for them. He gave them a very specific collection of attributes necessary to complete their task. Often, this creature is considered unusual, unconventional. It doesn’t fit the mold, does its own thing and when it does that thing that God designed it to do, lives are saved.

While that paragraph is written around the nature of vultures, we too are uniquely created, designed for a specific role, a purpose, and have been (or will be) given the attributes, gifts and skills needed to fulfill that God assigned purpose. I rarely fit expectations or maybe I just don’t feel like I fit. But when I am actively choosing to do the things that I know God has put me in place to do, I feel like I’m soaring. My whole being knows I’m doing what I’m supposed to do. It doesn’t matter the success or failure, hurdles, hurts or challenges.

Vultures have a reputation. Ugly, vile, repulsive. They eat dead things after all. But that is their purpose. And to do that God designed them with no feathers on their heads, necks or feet so they don’t retain bacteria. They are the only birds with the sense of smell needed to locate their task and the acidity in their digestive system kills every deadly disease they consume including things that would kill you or I with only a drop.

In the heat of the day, they can see the thermals rising from the earth – those wavy lines of heat we can see only when they’re rising off the road in the summer – and using only those currents, stay aloft for hours and travel for miles without flapping their wings. Elegant, drifting, floating.

So yes. disgusting and ugh. I get it that no one wants to be compared to such a thing. But I do.

God created. Unique. Purposeful. Soaring. Elegant.

(For an excellent read about vultures and condors, try “Vultures. Nature’s Ghastly Gourmet” by Canadian author Wayne Grady)