Today is the second day of Advent. It is also my day off, so I slept in a little bit and waited until the dog was good and ready before we went out for our walk together.
It wasn't raining, but it seemed a bit gloomy. It was cloudy and cold and wet on the ground. The sun wasn't even trying, I thought. The dog wanted to go in a different direction than she usually does. Without thinking, I went that way too.
Back home, it's snowing like crazy. That's what I heard. But it is not snowing here. It does not snow here. But truthfully, I wasn't thinking about that. I wasn't really thinking about anything really. I was just going where the dog was leading me, letting her stop and sniff and go where she wanted to go, within reason.
At some point the dog looked back behind us. There was a woman standing on the sidewalk, looking toward the other side of the road, to a spot where there was some open land. She had her phone out, and smiled when I glanced at her. We both stopped for a moment and then kept walking. I didn't think much about it. We were on a mission, and that mission was to keep going and then turn around and walk back in the other direction.
We did that. We walked a bit farther and then turned around, and walked back. But, for some reason, when I got to the place where the woman had stopped, I stopped for a moment, and I looked across the road, where she had been looking.
It was then that I saw them. At least four large deer, off in the distance, on the other side of the road. One of them actually stood up on its hind legs for a moment.
The dog and I crossed the street, so we could get a better look. I stood there for a moment, watching them and counting them. I wondered if one of them would stand on his hind legs again.
After a few minutes we went back home.
I don't know what it is about seeing these unexpected living beings, almost in my back yard. They are not rare, really. I used to see them more often, but I have not lately. I always used to see them in the same place, so that's where I looked. Until I stopped looking.
Today I was reminded to be vigilant. It was a stranger who reminded me, simply by her presence, by the fact that she was watching, that she noticed something that I did not see.
Today I was reminded that life is not always in the place we are looking, not always where we expect. The Angel Gabriel will come to the old man in the temple, to the barren woman, to the unsuspecting virgin. The conqueror will be a baby, and will be found in a manger.
It seems that this is something congregations need to learn, again and again. I know it is something that I need to learn -- to learn to look in unexpected places, to to believe that God is leading us, and that we will be surprised. To be vigilant.
It is the second day of Advent. I went for a walk with the dog, and saw the deer, even up on its hind legs, rejoicing.