We drove to school in the rain a couple mornings this week. The first day it rained, it was accompanied by loud claps of thunder and lightning that lit up the whole sky. “Let’s play a game,” one of the twins said excitedly from the backseat of the car, “You look this way and you look that way (directing each of his brothers’ eyes outside their respective car windows) and I’ll look forward. And we will shout LIGHTENING every time it happens!”
Anything that keeps their attention on a car ride is awesome, though this seemed like it would be a loud game.
And it was.
As we headed through the rain, I’d occasionally hear LIGHTENING followed by giggles as well as a host of reasons why lightening and thunder happen (most of them far from scientific). Despite the noise, I must admit it always amazes me to hear their excitement over things like this. When we got to school, we were a little early. So, I sat in the parking lot and asked them if I could read them a story I had written. “Sure, mom!” they said. I read them the story in the best, most exciting voice I could muster… and they mostly listened. Except when occasionally they’d lose focus and shout “LIGHTENING!” When I wrapped up the story, I asked them, “What did you think, boys?” They thought for a second and then delivered all their various nonsensical answers. Finally, one of the twins wrapped up the confusing commentary by saying “It was okay, but I couldn’t help it mom – LIGHTENING! It is just so dis-tact-in’”
In today’s Gospel, the events of Jesus’ baptism are relayed. I have been through three baptisms now with my boys, and try as I might, I never saw anything supernatural descend on their heads. In John’s baptism of Jesus, however, John saw “the Spirit come down like a dove from heaven and remain upon him.” The Gospel doesn’t say this, but I can just imagine John jumping in excitement like my boys did with every clap of thunder and wanting to shout “DOVE!” like my boys couldn’t help but shout “LIGHTENING!” After all, it WAS surprising, it WAS miraculous, it was… the Son of God! The level of wonder and excitement should have at least been equivalent to the wonder and excitement of three little boys staring out their respective windows at the rain.
It is Ordinary Time once again. To me, that indicates that we are done waiting for Christ to be born, and we are done celebrating the event of His birth… and now it is time to do the work. And what is the work? It is living into the person(s) God created us to be. It is also being astonished at life and creation. It is shouting “LIGHTENING” and waiting for the thunderclap to follow with joyous anticipation. It is showing up right here and now and being Christ’s hands and feet in the world.
May we all approach these next couple weeks of ordinary time with “extra”- ordinary excitement and a desire to say “Here I am, Lord, I come to do your will.” (Ps 40).