Two weeks ago, outside my house, a dog had a litter of puppies. Six incredibly adorable, tiny fluff balls. My language teacher and I stopped class for five full minutes to watch them toddling around trying to wrestle with one another – but more often just falling over themselves.
Their puppy squeaking turned into a single death-cry when my neighbor – an auto driver – accidentally ran over its tiny puppy leg with his auto. Right under my balcony his screams rose up, filled with all the surprise and fright of a two-week old creature experiencing its first and probably last great pain as he drug his crippled form from under the auto.
And no one did anything.
It would seem that living in South Asia, I would not need to be reminded of the world’s propensity for brutality. In a country where walking to the grocery store entails walking past beggars who have diseased nubs where hands and feet should be, cruelty seems more present than gentleness.
Unfortunately, constant brutality means that to keep from crying on every trip to the grocery store, one has to steel themselves. One has to become unflinching as you wave off dirty, scabby children for the 100th time.
But the mean world can’t be simply ignored away. Little examples keep intruding.
…When I learned in language class two days ago that several people I trusted – like my friendly neighbor woman – have taken advantage of my “foreigner ignorance” for their own benefit.
…My team leader’s encounter with three primary-school-aged boys who were strung out from their addiction to sniffing glue.
Like the indifference of my neighbors to the puppy’s pain. They sat and watched it drag its howling body onto a pile of sand on the side of the road. They kept sharing the day’s gossip while its mom anxiously circled the inconsolable pup. I cried. Completely powerless, completely ignorant about what could be done.
I called my language teacher. She came over. But by that time, the auto driver had taken the puppy and discarded him over the wall behind which his mother had given him birth. He stood, half-mocking us while we tried to coax the puppy out. My teacher and I couldn’t get to him and he couldn’t walk out to us. He had stopped crying. He lay listlessly on the ground.
I haven’t heard him since.
As usual, Advent snuck up on me this year. Good intentions to participate with an Advent calendar or mark the Advent Sundays are already a week behind. But for some reason, as I lay curled up despondently on my couch tonight – the thought occurred to me, “What a crappy thing to have happen, especially during Advent.”
But… actually… what a wholly appropriate thing to occupy my mind during Advent.
I’m only sorry that it was a puppy’s howl of pain and not every day’s human suffering that reminded me why I’m here. Reminded me of the sin-cursed earth upon which I walk to the grocery store. Reminded me why – Advent season or no – all creation and I are waiting. Sometimes with unflinching hearts and sometimes with unbearable cries of agony.
We’re waiting for the one who came to bear those unbearable cries and to utter them Himself.
My God, My God, why have you forsaken me? took on a new, squeal-pitch for me today.
Yet when this, our current, second “advent”, or time of waiting, is over – it will all be over. The One who became sin and bore its punishment will come to abolish its presence and effects from our lives forever. All of my tears will be dried; all cries of creation will be silenced. Replaced with sounds of rejoicing in the presence of our all-good, merciful King.
This Advent, it is His coming I long for.
Hopefully with a heart a little less steely than it was this morning.