August 6, 2016
loins girt, lamp lit
waiting for my Lord
the Bridegroom is coming
when he knocks
come, thou Thief, break in
I am ready
Who are those who sit, dressed for action, but not acting, with lamps lit, but in darkness? They are the ones who wait, whose profession is alertness, exquisite sensitivity. The lamp that burns in the darkness is faith. It does not yield vision of a face. Neither is there the sound of a voice, or of footsteps. What we wait for is more like the feel of feet on living pavement.
It is important to prepare the place - "the place for the soles of my feet" (Ez 43:7). The place of encounter goes by various names:
The garden at the time of the evening breeze (Gn 3:8)
This is where God went walking to meet Adam and Eve, but they were hiding.
Mount Moriah (Gn 22)
This is the place where Abraham offered to God in sacrifice his beloved son, Isaac. God accepted the sacrifice, though not the shedding of blood, because it was his desire to offer the blood of his own Beloved Son in that place.
The threshing floor (Ru 3:9; 2 Sm 24:15-25)
This is where Naomi sent Ruth to uncover the feet of Boaz and to say to him, "spread you cloak over your servant." In due course, their great-grandson David bought it as a site for the temple, because it was there that the angel of destruction was stopped.
Mount Tabor (Lk 9:28-36)
This is the place of transfiguration, where Jesus removed the veil from his face, so that the disciples could see his glory.
Gethsemane (Mk 14:32-42)
Another garden for the tempter. A place of isolating terror, and of love deeper than dread.
The place where they laid him (Mk 16)
The tomb: a rock-hewn place, enclosed, dark, empty.
To hilasterion - the place of atonement/the mercy seat (Heb 9:2-5)
The innermost sanctum of the temple. To reach it, one has to pass through veils. Upon entering, one kneels, and there arises the desire to kiss the ground.
"How awesome is this place! It is none other than the house of God, and the gate of heaven." (Gn 28:17)
Having found the place, we stay there. We wait.
We must not allow ourselves to sleep, or to be drawn out on some foolish errand. We have to be there for the knock (will it ever come?) and for the hand in the opening, and with fingers dripping with myrrh, to open the door.
And even if he doesn't come and doesn't knock, I will go on waiting in foolish expectation and reckless hope, because I know no other profession than that of watchman.
"Watchman, how much longer the night?
Watchman, how much longer the night?"
The watchman says:
"Morning has come, and again, night.
If you will ask, ask:
Come back again." (Is 21:11-12)