The challenge made me laugh on Saturday night.
After the first line of a book, add “and then the dragons arrived.”
Suggestions included The Hobbit, One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish, The Gospel of John, Jane Austin books, Madeleine, Paddington, and books I don’t know.
The point of story is disruption. Things are going along as always, and then something happens. Bilbo Baggins is living comfortably and then an adventure arrives. In the great green room there is a red balloon, and then a parent arrives to make the child go to sleep.
The story is how a character responds to the disruption. The dragon challenge is funny because almost none of the stories (except The Hobbit) actually feature the arrival of dragons. (And The Voyage of the Dawn Treader). And yet we imagine the characters or our favorite books dealing with the arrival of dragons.
I think that we are waiting for God like we are waiting for dragons.
Gideon is cleaning the wheat in preparation for grinding it into floor, and then the angel arrives. Mary is going about her household choirs and then the angel arrives.** Moses is managing a flock of sheep and then a bush alight but not consumed. A group of uncertain disciples and then Jesus appears.
Those are amazing stories. Those are cool stories. And sometimes we wait, I think, in our daily lives for dragons or angels or fires.
But what our story is less about dragons and doing battle, angels and proclamations? What if our story is about quiet faithfulness? What if the dragons are distractions?
What if in the great green room with the red balloon, when the dragons showed up, mom says, “good night dragons” and keeps reading?
What if the sheep stuck in the wilderness looks up and, instead of a dragon, there is a shepherd? What if after the adventurous angel and shepherd year, Mary spent the next thirty years being a mom?
What if we already know what we have to do?
**Nancy read this and said, “Choirs? I guess she did have to work on arranging the Magnificat.” And so I’m leaving this word alone.
In April 2020 when this was first published, we were looking for distraction, unaware of how much loss there would eventually be. But there is still a place for reflecting on what to do when the dragons arrive.