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Watching & Waiting?

Dear friends,

One of my favorite household plants is the Christmas cactus. I have a small collection of them, started by a gift from one of you back before the pandemic! The southwest facing windows in the cottage are the perfect spot and my plants love the light over here and I love how they remind me to be patient as I tend to their seasonality.

I water and watch them all year long, paying attention to the signs that blooms are coming soon. Typically, they arrive closer to Thanksgiving than to Christmas, and this year, as you can see, the blooms are here already! I thought I had been paying attention, watching closely, but last week, the blooms were suddenly here to greet me one afternoon in this full riot of color. While I had been anticipating the blooms, the timing and the profusion of beauty was unexpected; bursting through my assumptions of when it might be the right time. I was faithful in my watching, watering, and waiting, and this plant burst through on its own schedule, in its own way. Notice that the blooms are different colors, even coming from the same plant. How wondrous and beautiful, and unexpected.

As we draw near to the season of Advent, that season of the church year when we are called to watch and wait for the coming of our Savior, how might we prepare? This week’s gospel reading and all the readings we will hear in Advent, call us to “stay awake” to “be alert” to the signs happening around us…signs that Christ is near, that the kingdom of God is at hand, that we serve best when we are alert and expectant. I think that is right; as people of hope and faith we need to always be developing the discipline to listen and pay attention to God’s presence even as we are in the midst of our busy lives and all the things that draw our attention away from God. And it seems that like the perhaps inaccurately named “Christmas cactus,” we can also be completely surprised by unexpected gifts of love, mercy, joy, beauty, grace, forgiveness, salvation! So in this season of waiting and watching, let us pay attention and prepare our hearts for Advent and Christmas, and let us be open to the unexpected and surprising flames of the Spirit that drop into our lives to keep us on fire in love for our Lord.

All blessings,



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