Advent 1.1: Waiting Place

My backyard is a place of waiting.


I didn't think of it that way until this morning, the first Sunday of Advent, when I took the dog out into the thick, mesmerizing fog covering the weedy wildness that lies behind our house.

I didn't think of it until now, probably, because for the first 3 years of living here, I barely broached the boundaries of our far-away fence that meets a medical center parking lot.

Instead, I stuck primarily to the portion of the yard we felt we could manage--the grill and patio, the slice of grass, the small vegetable garden, the azalea bushes. I had no real desire to venture beyond into the undependable, uneven earth laden with pine straw and ivy and thorny vines.

Becoming a dog owner is what has led me to become more acquainted with said wildness at least three times a day since October. The edges of the yard are Lucy's paradise, full of smells that set her senses thrumming, and set me stumbling over hidden roots as I follow her. She's on the leash even in the fenced-in yard because she's being treated for heartworms, and her exercise must be restricted until the spring.

I wish I could explain to her why she's stuck with me tugging dully on her leash when all she wants to do is streak like lightning over, under, around, through every corner and curve of her new queendom. I wish she would understand it if I said, you have to wait, and it's for your own good.

There's so many ways to think about waiting, and several of them crossed my mind as I stood there in my bathrobe admiring the fog that gives even the familiar a tinge of mystery (Advent indeed), waiting as Lucy traipsed around in the ivy and pine straw to find the perfect place to fertilize. Maybe this is what God feels like sometimes. Waiting on us, watching us traipse around, until (if) we get our shit together.

Saying, you have to wait, and it's for your own good.

But does an all-knowing God even experience waiting? Or is waiting just another way that we humans express our impatience, our greed for instant gratification? Of course, there are so many types of waiting to begin with. Eager anticipation, panicked dread, hearts pounding in both cases. And then there are the more mundane moments of waiting... like waiting for your dog to finish her business in the backyard.

If God waits, I like to think it's in solidarity with our human waiting--Emmanuel, God with us, after all. In fact, maybe it's in our moments of waiting where God is most strongly present; when we don't know what's next (or--sometimes even harder--we do), when life is as clear as the fog.

Before we know it (I'm telling myself), spring will be here, and Lucy will be declared heartworm free. I'm already anticipating her joyful dashing up and down, over and around, finally able to have full run of her domain.

Long lay the world in sin and error pining, til He appeared, and the soul felt its worth.