December 16, 2008
Maybe: A Story of Advent
Wake, walk, wait, return, rest, repeat. Every day was the same for him. His whole life till now, going back as long as he could remember (his memory, of course, was no longer all that good), was this pattern: wake, walk, wait, return, rest, repeat. He'd considered giving up more than once, but another day would come and go, and still his pattern would repeat.
Over time everything else had faded from his priorities--due to his faltering memory, perhaps, or to the vagaries of time passing. The older you get, the fewer the temporalities that can keep pace with you. Really he was down to three. He still had a love for his people Israel, who year after year had like him waited for the restoration of their greatness in the eyes of the world. He still held on to his faith in the God who, so the Scriptures say, once delivered his people Israel with a mighty hand and in the intervening centuries had promised more than once to deliver them again. And then there was this loitering hope of his--hope that this wild-eyed, half-awake vision which had overtaken him so many years ago would be realized, that he would see what he had been told he was meant to see.
Still, that was so many years ago, and if the memory of the old is suspect, the audacious visions of the young are likewise to be taken with a grain of salt. Maybe it wasn't a vision, he occasionally allowed himself to consider; maybe it was a moment of hubris--certainly not his only such moment. Maybe in seeking the fulfillment of this promise from God he was merely indulging a private fantasy of his own importance.
That thought did occasionally cross his mind, but it typically left quickly, its only sustenance having long dwindled with the steady fade of all his other priorities. He was a tired old man now, with little time for hubris.
He had been helped in his endurance by the woman. She was always there in the Temple courts when he walked in to wait, and she always remained after he returned to his rest. They exchanged knowing glances from time to time; those around them all knew that they were both waiting for the same thing, but only these two really knew what it was like to wait.
So today they would both wait again. No one would mock them; their age earned them the deference of the crowds. And in a sense all Israel took some courage from their waiting. They were given space every day to follow the same pattern--wake, walk, wait, return, rest, repeat--a lifelong wait for the ransom of captive Israel, a lifelong wait for their own death and deliverance into the age to come.