This morning I'd like to share with you a whale of a story...or more accurately, a story, a true story, of a whale.

If you had the opportunity to read a recent front-page story originally featured in a San Francisco newspaper before it was picked up by the national media, you would know this story: a female humpback whale had become entangled in a web of crab traps and lines near the Golden Gate bridge. As you may know, these whales are enormous in size: 50 or more feet in length and weighing in at around 79,000 pounds : that's about 40 tons! This whale was weighted down heavily by hundreds of pounds of traps causing her to struggle mightily just to stay afloat. She was also enmeshed by hundreds of yards of line rope wrapped around her body, her tail, her torso, even a line tugging in her mouth.

A fisherman spotted her in the water and radioed an environmental group for help.

Within a few hours, an environmental rescue team arrived. The team quickly determined that she was so bad off and in such desperate straits that the only way to save her was to dive into the water and untangle her. Working for long hours with curved knives, they eventually freed her from the crab traps and rope lines. When she was finally freed, the divers reported that she swam swiftly in joyous circles, then came back to each diver on the team, one at a time. She nudged each of them, pushing gently in a gesture of gratitude. A diver on the team claimed this was the most incredibly wonderful experience of his life. The diver who cut the rope out of the whale's mouth said the whale's eyes were following him each step of the process.

This Advent season, may we and those we love be so blessed and fortunate to be surrounded by people who help us get untangled from all the traps and ropes that bind us spiritually and bring us down. Then may we express a gratitude similar to that of the humpback whale by personally thanking each of these people; for it is through and by such people that God influences our lives for the better! Then, who knows, we also may dance around swiftly in joyous circles! Have a blessed Advent!

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