Saturday, November 28, 2015

Looking around the Bend

The road approaching our home snakes up a steep ridge toward Kincaid Lake and the Kisatchie National Forest. Its two lanes are narrow. There is no shoulder. Drivers can’t see the oncoming traffic until it’s practically alongside you.
I have learned to take these curves slowly. Many of the trucks coming down from the lake have a boat in tow. The drivers are often in a hurry, and so they race toward home. Their speed forces them to cross the center line at the curves, and their boat trailers swing even further into my lane than the truck itself.
Paul Cezanne's "The Bend in the Road"

Initially, this struck me as a hazard and a nuisance. My ability to have charitable thoughts about my fellow drivers was sorely tested. But eventually I learned that slowing down and looking for what might be around the bend gave me a deeper, abiding appreciation for the richness of the world I inhabit.

Driving more slowly allows me to be more attentive to the forest on either side of the road. Tucked among the forest, deer, fox, and raccoons frequently watch me as I glide by. At this time of year, I’ve learned to anticipate the return of the cormorants, nesting in great colonies in the trees in the bayou.
It’s easy to let an entire commute pass us by without noticing a thing. We’ve been on automatic pilot, caught up in our busy thoughts and lulled into inattentiveness by our assumption that we’ve seen all of this before. Our cell phones and radios distract us. Our haste to get to our destination can make us resent the journey itself.
Advent reminds us that life is a winding road. Many things will come around the bend that we do not expect. Some will be dreadful. Some will be a sheer delight. But there is always something coming around the bend. And most importantly, there is always someone coming around the bend: Jesus.
Jesus is always coming around the bend toward us.
Johannes Vermeer's "The Milkmaid"

Slow down and give this world your attention. Jesus is coming around every bend. Learning to expect him is one of our spiritual challenges.
Staying up late helping our children with their homework can seem draining and even annoying. But all this effort shows us that our child is growing intellectually and spiritually.
Fixing a leaky faucet or patching a leaky roof can seem such a nuisance. But it means we have running, drinkable water and shelter from the elements.
Doing the laundry and washing the dishes can be tedious. But these simple tasks remind us that we are well clothed and well fed.
Jesus is coming. Every day. He is just around the bend. Slow down and look. Through him all things were created. And all things bear his gracious mark.

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