A song of ascents. From the depths I called You, Hashem. O Lord, hear my voice, may Your ears be attentive to the sound of my pleas. If Your preserve iniquities, O God, O Lord, who could survive? For with You is forgiveness, that You may be feared. I put confidence in Hashem, my soul put confidence, and I hoped for His word, My soul [yearns] for the Lord, among those longing for the dawn, those longing for the dawn. Let Israel hope for Hashem, for with Hashem is kindness, and with Him is abundant redemption. And He shall redeem Israel from all its iniquities. –Psalm 130 (Stone Edition Tanakh)
It’s been almost six months since I started this experiment. I feel as if I’m no closer to what I’ve been looking for than when I made this life transition last May. I’m not getting any younger, God.
On the other hand, how long did Abraham and Sarah wait before the birth of Isaac? How long did Isaac wait before the coming of Rebecca, his bride? How long did Jacob wait before he could marry Rachel? How long has every Jew who ever lived waited for the coming of the Messiah? Christians continue to wait for the return of Jesus. How long, O Lord, how long must we wait?
Maybe it’s my fault. Maybe it’s just how life works.
We’ve all been so busy lately. My wife returned to work and she is hardly at home these days. I can’t remember the last time she was able to help out in the library at the Reform shul or with an event at Chabad, let alone the last time she or my daughter went to worship at synagogue. It seems like we’re all running around to this place or that, doing one thing or another. To confess, even Shabbat barely seems like any sort of break in activity compared to the rest of the week (I know you must all think I’m terrible).
The NIV Bible translates Psalm 130:6 as:
I wait for the Lord
more than watchmen wait for the morning,
more than watchmen wait for the morning.
As strange as it may sound to most of you reading these words, my journey of faith has been mostly in darkness or at best, in a half-light. I seem to see what I’m looking for, but I can only picture it dimly (1 Corinthians 13:12), as if I’m straining to see the light of a lamp sitting on the window sill of a home away in the distance. The fog has rolled in and night is upon me. I am chilled to the bone and walk the trail in the darkness alone, with miles before me until my goal, and only the strange ebony sky and unfamiliar territory are my companions.
But more than the watchman at the walls of a besieged city, surrounded by foes and death, do I wait for the morning. “My soul yearns for the Lord, among those longing for the dawn.”
It’s only been six months. Abraham waited for decades for his “miracle” and even after Isaac was born, there were many challenges such as the Akedah and the death of his beloved Sarah. Finally, “Abraham breathed his last, dying at a good ripe age, old and contented; and he was gathered to his kin” (Genesis 25:8 JPS Tanakh) and another generation picked up the banner, and then another, and another, and…
But I am here now and I am waiting like a watchman in the night. I’m not even sure what I’m waiting for or what it will look like when it arrives (assuming it will ever arrive). I suppose I could say, like any other Christian, that I’m waiting for Jesus to return, but I’m waiting for something else before that. What it is, I cannot say, but I do know that it has not come yet and the longing is still here. Is it belonging? Is it illumination? Is it clarity of purpose? I don’t know.
Maybe I’m just waiting for God to tell me what I’m waiting for. Whatever comes out of this will probably end up being very different from what I’d planned. But then it is His will and not my will that must prevail.
Until I reach whatever God has sent to find me, like a soldier preparing for battle or a watchman at the walls of his city at night, I stare into the darkness and pray for even the faintest sign that there will come the dawn.