Longing for the Dawn

Moses at SinaiA 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.

lost-in-the-mistAs 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.

nightsky1

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7 thoughts on “Longing for the Dawn”

  1. i am much younger, and feel very much the same. I am always searching and waiting for something, and I know what I find will be drastically different from what I expect.

  2. I am assuming that much of your befuddlement and perplexity has come about from shouldering the mantle of knowledge of two often conflicting religious traditions — Christianity and Judaism. And you’ve found that how MJ tries to reconcile it leaves something to be desired. It’s been the same with me, but I wouldn’t have it any other way! If I am to follow the God of Israel and the Messiah, his son, it must be authentic.

  3. Thanks for sharing James, I to feel like I’m waiting as a watchman straining not sure what I’m looking for; peering through foggy darkness, cold and alone… Your voice is as one calling out in the night in a mostly empty wilderness as I perceive it… I am stirred as the sound catches my attention…

  4. I must confess James. You and I seem to be traveling the same road, but at different places. Your feelings and expectations are mine. And if I were to elaborate mine, they could very well be your own.
    These are difficult days. And for some reason, or reasons, I seem unable to grasp the significance of the moment.
    Be blessed in your journey. It is not an easy one.
    Shalom,

    Russ

  5. Hi Russ,

    I think we’re all on similar roads, walking on different points along the way. We just don’t realize it because the landscape is dramatically different depending on where we are at the moment. All roads lead to the same destination. Even atheists are on that road. For all of us, there will be a meeting with our Creator. Until then, for those of us who choose to try to keep our eyes open, the journey can seem troubling.

    But in the end, there will be peace.

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