Last Thursday evening, I saw a new spotted fawn springing across our lawn, full of the joy of simply being alive.
On Saturday, my teenagers reported that the fawn was sleeping in the tendrils of a fallen tree limb in our back yard.
On Monday, the fawn was still there, in its makeshift nest, shaded and sheltered by the rest of the big oak tree, apparently content.
This morning, loud thunderstorms and heavy rain ripped the morning to shreds. When things settled down, and the sun returned, I snuck round back to check. The fawn was still there.
I have checked the website of a local nature centre. Their “FAQ” section described the exact situation of our fawn: still, quiet, staying put, no sign of mother. This, the centre advised, is quite normal. The fawn can’t keep up with its mother yet, so she leaves it somewhere she considers safe, and returns at night to feed it. As long as it is lying down, keeping quiet, it is fine. Only if it gets up and goes looking and crying for its mother should we worry that she has not come back to it when she should.
On Saturday, the teenagers didn’t know the fawn was there before they stumbled into the yard; and on Sunday the telephone company came to rebury a wire which ran right past it. Still, the fawn stayed where it was put, and waited.
The patience, trust, and obedience of this small animal, while it may be instinctive, is also instructive. It has more faith in its mother’s wisdom at placing it there, more trust in her return, than fear of stumbling teenagers or working engineers. It has been “told” to wait patiently, and it does.
There is another aspect of this waiting game that struck me this morning, though. As the thunderstorms threatened, I commented to my daughter that, while I am glad that the fawn’s mother considers our home a safe place, by leaving her baby on our doorstep, she has made me feel somewhat responsible for it. I worried about it during the storms.
On Sunday evening I heard the Rt Revd Arthur Williams describe the time between the Ascension of Jesus and Pentecost, the coming of the Spirit, as a waiting period. It is almost like a little, offbeat Advent.
Like the fawn, the disciples were told to stay put and wait. Like the fawn, they did. They devoted themselves to prayer. They stayed together.
Waiting is contagious. As the fawn waits for its mother, I am drawn into waiting, too; watching out anxiously for her return. As we consider the disciples’ time in the upper room, we become anxious for Sunday and the inbreaking of the Spirit’s power. And yet, if we have faith, if we trust the one who told us to wait, if we know our Mother God to be reliable and devoted to us, we can afford to be patient as we pray:
Come, Holy Spirit!