Isaac's Advent Series: Week 1 (After the Waiting)

This month on the blog will be a series of Insights from Isaac on the tail-wagging wonder of Advent. May we remember to pause throughout this busy season to hear God speak in unexpected ways: a baby crying not-so-quietly as the congregation sings "Silent Night," the slow warming of our chilled hands around a wood-burning fire, or a dog lapping peanut butter from the floor (a cookie-baking casualty). Let us listen....

Heavy fog delayed the light's arrival to my living room windows yesterday morning. Isaac lay with his paws propped on the window sill, his cocoa-brown eyes scanning the hazy street. I rose from the couch, and he leaped to my side. My movement usually signaled one thing to him: the time of his morning walk was near. This week, however, Isaac has surely noticed a change.

When I rose, it was not to prepare for a walk. Instead, I made my way to the dining room table, adorned with a simple Advent wreath. I lit one candle, and he sat beside my chair. At first, he pawed at me. Then he nudged my Bible with his nose. Eventually he settled on the floor as I read prayers out loud. This 25-day practice was only delaying his walk by a few minutes, but on Isaac's timetable, the readings lasted for a year. The tardiness of the sunrise combined with my pressing the snooze button added to his impatience. Isaac's Advent had begun with a lot of waiting.

At long last, I stood, and Isaac jumped from belly-on-carpet to dancing on tiptoe. I leaned forward to blow out the candle. Isaac tried to "help." He jumped toward me, and his paw caught my leg.

Scratch. Blood. Pain. Ow.

The flame bent and eventually vanished as I blew the candle out in a one-legged hop. Isaac had moved a few feet from me, ears perked and tongue bobbing in a pant. I did not reprimand him. Instead, I patted him with one hand, the one that's not holding the injured leg, and said, "Good things come to those who wait, bud. Let's go walking." I did not tell him that the walk will be slower than usual. He didn't care. All he knew was that he was finally getting what he'd waited "so long" for.

Waiting can be downright painful. Waiting can also cause to inflict discomfort on others. Impatience grows, and we lash out with our "paws." This time of year, we find ourselves standing in long lines and preparing long recipes. Time seems to shorten as our responsibility list lengthens. How do we wait when even John the Baptist is shouting, "the kingdom of heaven is at hand!" (Matthew 3:2, New King James Version)?

Perhaps that long line at the self-checkout of Wal-Mart is the time to stop and pray, "Come, Lord Jesus, come."

Perhaps saying "no" to one of 90 Christmas party invitations is saying "yes" to time spent in rest & quiet.

Perhaps the traffic jam invites us to recall another crowded commotion in Bethlehem.

Perhaps we should listen to our dogs.

Yesterday morning, I would have preferred no Band-aids or slight limps, but I didn't mind. The reason I did not get angry at Isaac was that he had waited so beautifully. He longed for his "Christmas" of a walk to arrive, but he found other ways to enjoy the morning. He did not tear up a pillow or knock over a vase in demand for attention. He watched for cats (and barked one away). He took a nap. He listened to the Advent prayers. Even the scratch was worth the pain because it came from sheer, unbridled joy. It came from longing fulfilled after the waiting. All that mattered to Isaac was what awaited him.

Is the Christ-child that we await all that matters to us?

all good things to each of you,
Pastor Darian (and Paw-stor Issac)