Tap, tap, tap.
Tap, tap, tap.
Tap, tap, tap at the window.
A brilliant red cardinal flew again and again at the windows lining the room where we were gathered for a meeting. For over an hour, brilliant scarlet at the windows, tapping, tapping, tapping. Persistence.
In the beloved story of Jesus’ first miracle – changing the water into wine at a wedding in Cana – we witness the two-sided mirror of persistence. We see the one who persists and the one who is open to the persistence of another.
When the hosts run out of wine, Mary turns to Jesus and informs him about what has happened. And even after Jesus responds by asking what that has to do with them, his mother keeps at it, as if Jesus hadn’t said anything at all. Remarkably, she simply turns to the servants and tells them to do whatever Jesus tells her to do. Also remarkably, Jesus shows no impatience, frustration or resistance at having been overridden by his mother in this way. And the result, as we know, was that Jesus transformed the water standing nearby in large stone jars into the finest wine of all.
So, what about us? Do we feel comfortable in persisting with God? Is it okay to persist in our prayers for our needs, dreams, hopes, desires? Or is it impolite, impertinent, disrespectful? And are we open to God’s persistence with us?
Martin Luther King, Jr., whose birthday we of course celebrated recently, showed us what persistence looks like. And in the course of that relentless persistence, he catalyzed transformation in our culture, our country, our society. He ignited transformation within us as human beings. Is our handling of civil rights without flaw? Is that work complete? Absolutely not. But many would agree that much progress has been made in the practice of acknowledging and upholding the dignity of every human being in this country and in the world.
In my own life, I have come to understand that when I keep asking God for help again and again on the same question or challenge and continue to receive the same answer, that it is God trying to give me the guidance for which I have asked. I often don’t recognize it initially because it doesn’t match the answer I hoped for or expected. But God has helped me through the years to recognize that persistent voice as the holy spirit, as the answer to my prayers, questions, pleading. As the way to go forward.
And so it can be with all of us. With God’s help, when we hear the tapping at the window, we can open the door and allow the streaking flash of scarlet to swoop into the room – into our hearts – and take us to the land flowing with milk and honey and the finest wine of all.