Welcoming the Unexpected

No one is so brave that he is not disturbed by the unexpected.
— Julius Caesar

"There's a possum on your patio," he said. 

Startled, I looked just in time to see its ugly, prehensile tail scurry out of view. 

It was mortifying at first, as if we had just seen a rat, and I felt a flush of embarrassment that this unsightly creature had revealed itself not only to me but to a guest in my house!

But the next evening, when the possum showed up again to scavenge the birdseed under the feeder, I began to observe it with curiosity rather than loathing. It was actually kind of cute. And then I Googled it.

It's really quite a remarkable animal! “America’s kangaroo!”

For the next couple of weeks I actually enjoyed its evening appearances. Anna would sense (i.e., smell) the possum's arrival, push aside the drapery, and bark fiercely and incessantly until I came to see for myself. The possum was undeterred by the commotion, even though we were plainly in view through the sliding glass door, and seemed to know that Anna was unable to do more than bark from behind the door. 

I haven't seen the possum for a couple of weeks now and I kind of miss it (or him or her). But I've been "pondering" this "visitation" for awhile and I think it has lessons for me.

  1. Our first reactions to the unexpected are not always the best reactions. In fact, they seldom are. (Maybe that's why in scripture the angels always say, "Don't be afraid!" when they show up with unexpected news.)

  2. When we hold the unexpected, or ugly, or shameful with curiosity and acceptance we just might learn something remarkable.(Hmmm... Mary did just that with the "shame" of her unplanned pregnancy, didn't she?)

  3. Those unwanted, "ugly" parts of myself or others, if welcomed and held with curiosity, can be transformed and might even be a blessing in disguise. The next time they show up, rather than react fearfully maybe I will respond more thoughtfully. ("But Mary treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart." -Luke 2:19)

Who knew that even possums could manifest the glory of God?! If it's true of possums, maybe we can, too.