Advent 3 â€“ Luke 3:7-18
“John said to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, ‘You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?’â€Â (Luke 3:7)
(This is a revised 2009 reflection. In my new 2012 Advent reflections I’m ignoring more traditional interpretations of the Advent/Christmas scriptures. Of course, you may read this and think, “Hey Larry, this 2009 piece is also ignoring the obvious!”)
I pedaled by the sign attached to the fence and chuckled. Really more a nervous laugh because the morningâ€™s cold and not many people are around and Iâ€™d entered a section of Woodward Park that contained open fields and paralleled the San Joaquin River and felt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . isolated.
According to the local news, someone recently reported they might have spotted a mountain lion (or cougar as theyâ€™re sometimes called) in this park. Warnings were posted. Like this hastily printed sign in the photo.
I also chuckled because Iâ€™ve been thinking about John the Baptist. I suspect not many people on this cold lonely morning are contemplating the Baptistâ€™s ancient words. But I was. And so, nervously chuckling at the warning signs, Iâ€™m recalling his every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Cut down. Gulp. Itâ€™s another Advent-inspired, get-ready-for-Christmas threat. I shiver a tad. It ainâ€™t summer after all (well, at least thatâ€™s my excuse).
The Baptist challenged the crowds on the banks of the Jordan River.
Hmmm, a warning along a river?
Out here, in a regional city park on the north end of Fresno (fifth-largest city in California), Iâ€™ve seen deer, rabbit, bobcat and coyote. The park hugs the San Joaquin River. At 330 winding miles, itâ€™s the stateâ€™s second-longest river. Iâ€™ve hiked around lake basins in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, high on the rugged crest, which mark the San Joaquinâ€™s alpine birth. Between Fresno and the granite peaks are subdivisions, parks, dams, highways and fast food joints. Still, the river is a corridor, a pathway from wilderness to civilization. Iâ€™m not surprised when I see bobcat or coyote in these lowlands.
But a cougar, an elusive predator, is a different story. But . . . Iâ€™m on a bike! Couldnâ€™t I outrace â€˜em? Later I learn they sprint 30-35 miles per hour. Get pedaling, Larry. But . . . I wonâ€™t bump into one because Fresnoâ€™s huge, with over a hundred square miles of streets and shopping malls. Howeverâ€”yikesâ€”a cougarâ€™s territory covers thirty square miles. That narrows the safe acreage. And theyâ€™re also big cats. Iâ€™m not quite six feet tall. An average full-grown cougar, tail to head, would drop the â€œnot quiteâ€ from that footage.
Letâ€™s return to the safer Jordan River. Continue reading →