During hunting season, a man and woman were driving down the road in their pick-up truck and passed a herd of deer. The woman said with amusement at her husband’s reflex, “There you go a breathin’ heavy.” Now while deer season might get some fellows all riled up, you have never seen a man pant quite so much as when he’s trying to give birth. I guess you’ll need that explained.
The year was 1999 and we were expecting our first baby. We were late scheduling birthing classes so while all the other moms sitting around on the floor listening to the instructor were barely showing, I was near the end and could have had the baby right then and there if prompted. And because I was just plum wore out, everything was funny. My husband, on the other hand, was taking things seriously. His mother often brags, “Jeff always gives 110 percent!”, so he went into the birthing class focused with enthusiasm that extended the bounds of reason. He knelt at the end of my raised knees and began to coach me in rhythmic birth-breathing. The instructor guided us moms (who apparently would lose our minds and forget how to breathe during actual childbirth) to match the dads’ controlled breaths. Have you ever had one of those moments where the world happens in slow motion and you’re not aware of anything else outside your little sphere? This was one of those times. I looked at Jeff over my bulging belly and the soon-to-be father of my child had turned into a crazy man panting the likes you have never seen. Because I was wore out, I laughed until I cried and was forced to shut my eyes to block out his hilarious face. Hoping to regain composure, I peeped through tiny slits to see if ole Huff-n-Puff had calmed down any. But he had sensed my breathing was compromised by the laughing fit and was in the middle of a panting frenzy working feverishly to get me back on track. It was so bad I thought he was going to have the baby himself! Even funnier is that he never even coached me when the actual time came! I was having contractions and he was building himself a nest out of chair cushions saying how he was going to sleep because he “needed his strength for tomorrow.”
The preacher this past Sunday quoted Psalm 42:1 “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O, God.” I looked around at the congregation seated apart for social-distancing, all wearing mouth coverings and I realized we were like that deer--all figuratively panting in some way behind the masks. Later, I asked Dad why a deer would be panting and he said “because it’s wore out. Something must have been chasing it.” Yes. Something has been chasing it... I wonder what has been chasing us this year. A pandemic? Fear? Social unrest? Anger? Hopelessness? Disappointments? Sure, there are always blessings and bright sides, but truth be told, lots of people are wore out from 2020.
Like a panting deer longing for streams of water, all this running from something has our souls thirsty. There are plenty of ineffective substitutes, but the best solution to refresh those of us who are parched is Jesus. You may have noticed many people putting up Christmas lights and decorations extremely early this year. I believe it’s directly connected with our need for hope and hydration for wore out souls. We realize Christmas season, with baby Jesus at the center, is not merely a mirage on the horizon, but it’s an oasis. And we can’t get there quick enough! I don’t know about you but I’m going to take a deep breath (as best I can behind a mask) and drink it in…because I’m going to need my strength for tomorrowJ
Janet Cowger- Fliegel