Thursday, June 21, 2018

Raphael's Sword is Stolen

Then Elisha, filled with the twofold portion of his spirit,
wrought many marvels by his mere word.
During his lifetime he feared no one,
nor was any man able to intimidate his will.
Nothing was beyond his power;
beneath him flesh was brought back into life.
In life he performed wonders,
and after death, marvelous deeds.

Lights Rise, on Elijah and Elisha, but there is no one in the empty space but them. The rising curtains reveal a stage that's bare, except for prophets, filling the void the sacred left when she withdrew. Instinctively, they reach for what their words promise: the guarantee of a God-with-them. But there is no one visible to the eye or audible to human ear. They are, perhaps, not what the audience came to see. There is a general damp chill of disappointment emanating through the atmosphere. Perhaps we hear one or two louder murmurs of discontent and the jostling of dissatisfaction in the crowd. Elijah confides with the audience—we never asked for this, too, you know. 

We thought it would look different, when we were younger, and the prophets of Baal outnumbered us. Oh there was something glamorous then
Elisha nods, remembering his calling from the svelte and seemingly invincible Elijah—
something really ballsy about this whole shebang. You felt the thrill of righteousness and none of its angsts. To be a prophet was to be, well, nearly, a god. You possessed a hero's certainty, and that was something to hang your cloak on, you know? Your mind didn't dither in decisions or wither under pressure, like the common man's. You could really sink your teeth into the earth and take a bite out of it, spit it out, and people caught your clods of clay like gold.

What's changed? asks the audience, sincere in their disappointment, their hands itching to catch enchanted spittle, gilded by their anticipation.

Elijah's own perplexion at his fate seems to vanish for a moment—a calm asserts itself in the midst of a sullen fog that's lifted. He can see things clearly now, he can speak, but not through the mist of indecision. He even breaks into a smile. The sort of smile in which God's laughter seems to sing.

What's changed? Why nothing, he laughs at the awestruck faces in the auditorium. Nothing's changed, it's all much clearer now. There never was, nor ever could, be another certainty than one I never had: the surety of speaking truth, although you're bound to be proved wrong, of vowing love, although the narrative will shift beneath your feet like sand, of saying: I will be there, of showing up, being disappointed, abandoned at the lunch counter, of persevering, even though there doesn't seem to be a way. Once you decide to extend love into the world, there is no insurance to guarantee its answer. There is no formula you can exact to inviolably predict your outcomes. The fruits of your work remain to be seen—the only guarantee of love is faith. 

But what better risk? To dare to speak what very well may be the Word of God, burnt upon your lips by seraphim, and to find that word of faith each time, delighted, by the love which meets it and seals it with itself? 

No comments:

Post a Comment