40 Pregnant Days (or Weeks)
As a Jew, Jesus knew all about Noah’s faith during 40 days and nights of rain, and the endurance of Moses and Miriam leading their people for 40 years in the desert. Jesus began his own public ministry with a 40 day wilderness retreat, which inspires the season of Lent we begin today. 40 day/year prep times, all leading to new epiphanies, new covenants.
In the Bible 40 is shorthand for a really long time, or enough years for an old generation to pass into a new one.
But did Jesus know that he, just like all of us, and this bat ray, had already spent 40 WEEKS in another intense preparation time? 40 weeks of dark waiting and miraculous feeding? That would be the 40 weeks of his gestation inside his mother Mary's womb.
Did the ancient people honor the number 40 because it is the average length in weeks of a human pregnancy? Did the women scribes say, 30 days and nights in the dark ark before the rainbow? No, let’s make it 40.
Animals have incredibly varied lengths of gestation, from just a few weeks (guppies) to 18 months (elephants.) Quite a few sharks and rays are about the same length as humans – 9 months. Another example of God’s very diverse creation. “I won’t create everything the same, I like diversity. But mothers and babies and mysterious waiting, that seems like a good idea all around.”
Animals at the Aquarium sometimes have babies. Right now we have one very special pregnant mom. Never before have we had this animal pregnant on exhibit. She arrived solo, quickly started gaining weight, we did an ultrasound – she is eating for more than one!
But I can't tell you what animal she is yet, because the Aquarium wants to share it first. Like a woman carefully choosing the right moment to share her Good News. OK, I'll wait, but hint: it's a TWO YEAR pregnancy for this mystery animal. Stay tuned. And hold her in your prayers, a long wait.
I know I wrote about pregnancy during Advent. Lent is also a pregnant time, a time of faith focus, waiting, setting one’s sights towards Easter, new life. There is so much pregnant new life on land and sea. Take your own 40 day, 40 week, (40 year?) journey, in the dark, to new life.
We are celebrating our annual Blue Theology Sunday at the Christian Church of Pacific Grove on Feb. 25. 3 of our BT lay leaders will share how their faith has been deepened by this ministry – join us! I post these devotionals every Wednesday here and on Facebook.Want to visit Monterey Bay for a service trip or pilgrimage? Bluetheology.com
(One more fun fact about 40: Bat rays can swim/fly underwater up to 40 miles per hour! And they mate on the move too, that’s what I call feeling the earth move! Today is also Valentine’s Day.)