Here is an untraditional symbol of Advent that burst its way into my rainy day. But I think it can hold its own. In the South of France, dolphins were a symbol for the King.
The dolphins are back. Or maybe it is I. It is hard to know who is the constant. Some days they are there. And somedays, not. If you are patient, you can discern a certain undercurrent, a stirring of the waters, that disturbs the rhythmically march toward the shore. The disturbance always reveals a promise.
I studied those waters, inky and thick like motor oil, today. I searched for their breach – from a sole dorsal fin that would slice through them, quiet and camouflaged, and then slip under again, easily unseen. How earnest I was, to wait for that one occurrence that always seems like testimony to me that God is still here. I thought, or prayed, “I will wait for you Lord.” I will wait for you to show yourself to me. And I was happy to do so, in the spitting rain, with the wind disturbing the skies and trees.
Rain pressing in, I turned to go. Then, I saw it. Just as I thought, a dolphin emerged. I knew it would be there! I watched it as long as I could, tracking its gentle rising and falling course, its meandering purpose, which led it out to deeper waters.
“I will wait for you Lord.” It is good to do so. Not just to see the beauty of your natural creation, but to understand something of you in it. That you are there, under the turbulent, deep waters, waiting to reveal yourself, for those who will wait, and watch, and expect. It is good to attune my whole body and senses toward your movement, to fix my eyes, and look for your emergence into my day, into this moment. It is a practice, a habit we make, to see your revelation, not just in nature but in our spirit.
Thinking and praying these things, I headed home, generally lost in the gray ominous glory of the morning. And then, quite quietly, the Lord spoke in my heart, “I will wait until you return to me.” (Judges 6:18 ) The Lord was reminding me one of my very favorite promises spoken to a lonely, lost, afraid, stressed out, weak, and worn out individual.
In this promise, the Lord reveals a sweetness and patience, and a longing for us, despite our weakness, failings, and disobedience. But there is something more. He reminds us that is not our waiting on him that counts. It is not our waiting to see if he is still there. It is not our waiting to see if he will keep his promises, only to discover, yes, yes, and yes. He is always there, just as he said he would be. What matters is that he waits on us, until we can return to him.
So all this time, I thought it was my discerning him, as if my presence determined him. Instead it was the other way around. It is his waiting on me: to bring my whole self back to him, my whole offering. It is his presence that determines me.
I am thankful that the dolphins come in the winter, in the tremors of the waters, in the agitation of our chaotic lives, a strange symbol of peace and of kingship, that is still calling my name. Now it is raining in sheets, and I am running home. The return of the native. The dolphins have moved on, but I am fully here.
I pray this for you too, this Advent. To wait. To see. To hear the quiet call of the King of Peace that is always waiting for us to return. To be fully here!
Amen, and Christmas Blessings to all as the King arrives again!