Cocks crow in the courtyard; cat pads soft on window ledge, returning from last night’s prowl. Sun opens her eyes, soon to fling her scarlet and purple morning robe over her shoulders. He squints in the fading darkness. Even in full day, his light is dim. He lies still a moment, preparing his mind for the difficult task ahead.
Heaving knobby knees and calloused feet off the bed, he sits upright, letting everything settle again. Once, he could stretch and pop and wrestle stubborn joints into lubricated submission. Not now. But he must move, however slowly. He must keep going. There’s a promise to be fulfilled.
He splashes water on leathery face, rubbing it into countless wrinkles. He works shaking arms into his robe, worn and thin, like him.
Stepping into the street, sun dances off his balding head, laughing in her morning play. He takes in everything his senses will proffer. Muted bellows from the neighbour woman: that’s nice. Diminished smells from passing donkey and horse: he won’t miss that. Children run and crouch and play in the street. Their voices muffle. He smiles, sad. He remembers ordering his own children to hush. Now, if he could only hear the cheery banter. But he must bend over painful and look directly into their eyes, watching their mouth, their expression, to understand their words. The little ones see him, and rum towards him. This ritual he loves! He puts gnarled hands on their soft black heads, and blesses them. Off they run again, and he watches them go, seeing beyond his limited vision, into the ebb of time itself, sweeping the children away.
Sigh . . . life sighs these days, remembering sweetly what was past, lingering long in the beauty of now, wondering what will become of tomorrow. His days fade into silence. But still he waits.
“Go . . . the temple.” He knows this voice. The voice from Beyond itself, beckoning him deep within, sustaining him when all other voices weaken.
Ancient heartbeat quickens. He glances as he passes people in the streets. Do they see? Have they heard? What news and developments has he missed the past weeks? But everyone looks normal. No one is looking. So, then, what is he looking for? What will the promise look like?
Mounting stone steps, pausing shorter than usual to catch his light breath, he enters the temple, scanning, searching . . . for what? No celebration, no military display, not even a debate or political discussion. Nothing out of the ordinary.
He waits near entrance, looking out and in; maybe It left already, maybe It is not here yet. His mind spins while his eyes skim. Calm down, man, or you’ll kill yourself waiting. Intentionally slowing his breathing, trying to relax the tell-tale thumping of his heart.
How long has he waited? What does it matter? He has waited his entire life . . . what are a few more minutes, or days, or slowing, fleeting weeks?
Soft cooing—he can hear it! Clear and sweet, like when he was young! He follows the sound: the man with the cage of doves. The girl with him . . . holding . . . It. This is It: the Consolation of Israel. Realization rushes over, through his entire being, a wave of such life! He rushes over, ignoring the resisting heart palpitations, screaming joints.
He reaches them. He takes the Consolation up in his arms. Nothing out of the ordinary; this is all custom. But everything out of the ordinary . . . no one was looking for Consolation to come this way.
He gazes long into the face: the eyes, the mouth, the tiny ears . . . everything yet to enter into its prime, everything yet to come. The Consolation is an infant. Isn’t it right that the God Who promised blessing through children should come to redeem His people through a child? This baby, an infant needing consoling, He IS the Consolation.
And he speaks, trembling, strong, barely audible, a voice coming from somewhere deep within, where Hope has kept faith all these years.
“Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word; for my eyes have seen Your salvation which you have prepared before the face of all peoples, a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel.”
And expectation’s paradox teaches us that a promise received in the heart will change and alter its host; so that when promise is realized in a way no one expects, the trusting heart will recognize it, and glory.
—Musings on Simeon from Luke 2 . . . based on a sermon by Josh Harris: Simeon`s bucket list—