I have a graceful writing friend, and we have contracted to write for each week of Advent. To see the sister of this post, follow me to Grace’s blog here.
Lost in the far country, the prodigal son stirs with the memory of home and father. To that country, too, which lies cloaked in mists of minor fears, minor wishes, minor obligations, the great desire comes at times, as a flash; or an overheard parable deposits a half-understood image: coins lost and found, seeds thrown out on windy fields, wedding parties seen from far off. In the same sky he looks at every night, clouds break to show an unconstellated star.
Let the prodigal set over these fragments the name hope. Let him gather up the pieces of his longing until they outweigh all other possessions—for if it is known and claimed, bare hunger for the highest good is better than the fulfillment of every smaller desire. And after he has set out again for his father’s house, when on the way home he has lost all his other luggage and worn his shoes thin—when even faith is fleeing—hope may remain. Hope may then conduct him to the road’s end, to the meeting whose beauty beggars the hope.
So it seems to me at times. Then the wind shifts, the eye flickers, the mind changes, and I am only the same weakness amid the same grayness as before. The glow at the edges of the world was a trick of optics; even my own hopefulness appears illusion: did the spirit really groan in me, then, or was it only that I had too little or too much sleep, or that I was lonely or surrounded by friends, and so felt this pang of what seemed infinite? Well: if my hope is illusion, yet may a piercing illusion be the message truth sends before it—as a bird’s shadow may precede it to the nest.