Children are playing hide-and-seek; the boy who is “it” stands by a tree with his eyes closed and counts to 100 — then he calls out, “Ready or not, here I come!” and starts to look for his friends, whether or not they have found their hiding places.
A young girl stands at the edge of a pool; she’s poised to dive in, but she doesn’t want to; she knows how cold the water is so early in the morning. The instructor blows his whistle and orders the swimmers into the water.
A group gets to a restaurant and arrives at their table; as they’re taking off their coats and figuring out who’s going to sit where, the server appears and asks what everyone wants to drink. At least one member of the group wants to say: Give us a minute, please!
Ready or not, here we come!
Ready or not, it’s time.
Sometimes, we take on a new venture – we volunteer to help with a nonprofit, take a new job, join a new faith community.
And suddenly we find that the nonprofit, the organization for whom we work, the faith community needs new leadership, and we’re driven into more than we think we are prepared, ready, able to do.
But, scary as that is, we can remember that choice remains: even dogged by wild beasts in the wilderness, we know that angels attend us there, also.
When we’re driven into the wilderness, we can allow ourselves to be buffeted by the fears and anxieties triggered by the newness and strangeness of the unexpected place, the role we find ourselves in — or we can allow ourselves to be waited on by the angels.
Many years ago, friends of ours, Mary Ellen and Frank, adopted a baby boy – John was healthy, active, happy. And Mary Ellen and Frank were filled with joy.
Soon after they adopted John, however, they learned that he had an older sister who was blind. Suddenly they found themselves in the wilderness of having to decide whether to adopt Helen, too, and keep the siblings together, or leave it to someone else to help her. They knew that bringing a blind child into their family would involve many more challenges than adopting a sighted child.
Mary Ellen and Frank decided to go ahead anyway and adopted Helen.
Yes, they did a good thing; they adopted John. And then they were asked to do more. But they still had their own choice to make.
And because they chose to bring Helen into their family, the rest of us received the blessing of having Helen in our lives.
Helen died young. She was 21, and I was 22, and her death broke my heart. We had been in college together, played our guitars and sang in the campus coffeehouse – yes, this was the 1960s! – and, at times, walked arm and arm, Helen temporarily free of her cane. Our signature song was “Edelweiss,” and for years after her death, I could not hear it without being taken over by sorrow and tears.
But while Helen was alive, we were waited on by angels, and even after her death, we are waited on by her angelic presence.
So, wildernesses, wild beasts, angels. We find ourselves driven into wild places from time to time, unexpected responsibilities, unfamiliar and unsought-for decisions to make. Strange lands.
And looking into the eyes of the wild beasts can be frightening.
But entering the wilderness can be exhilarating, also. We can find it energizing, as we accustom ourselves to it, as we become aware of new places within us that we did not know were there. The thrill of exploration and discovery.
And we can open ourselves up, loosen ourselves up and look toward the angels that we will find in these new places. We can allow them to wait on us.
And so it is today, with the launching of this new enterprise, kaewrites.com. I am choosing to take it on, choosing to go where it leads me, choosing to connect with all of you.
I don’t know what wild beasts I will discover in the wilderness, but I know that we’ll be there together, and the angels will wait on us.
And I look forward to hearing your stories, learning of your times in the wilderness, the wild beasts you confronted, and the way you have been and are attended by the angels.
So, ready or not, here we come!