In a world given over to death, I ask myself: What is my expectation of Christ?
This week a child died in the cancer ward, after two years in our midst. He lay there comatose, a sublime vegetating beauty, a bud never to flower. Time after time, I saw his eyelids flutter; one eye unfocused, the other came to rest on me. It was as though he reposed or whirled in an orbit out of this world. But he never once spoke; his hands, their fingers bent back in spasm, were helpless evidence of his sleeping soul. So he lived, and so died.
Like everyone else who visited the ward, I was shaken to the core by his plight. A kind of wary silence took over; I held his hand, stroked his face, breathed a prayer, and departed. What was there to say--to him, to myself? Thought lay too deep for tears.
What is my expectation of Christ?
I never prayed for a miracle. I let the child go. Not knowing what else to do. Not being in command of the universe, or of a single life, including my own.
At the same time, I want to separate such reflections from any indifference or blunting. I hope my love for the child stands clear. Still, letting him go even as I took him to heart, the question remains: What do I expect of Christ?
Expectation, hope. The future, the Coming. Flat endurance, event. These words circle about in my brain.
Let me think of the unlikeliest event conceivable in this world; a tragedy, a loss, let us say. Let us say the death of a dear one has occurred; shocking, unexpected. Shortly thereafter, friends stand grieving at an open grave.
So far, so bad; an event anyone can admit as a possibility, for anyone in the world, including one's self.
Suddenly this scene of mute grief is brought to a halt, invaded, confronted. Someone is in the midst of the mourners; someone who is not mourning. The tears, the vertigo, the emotional welter of death, halt in midair. Someone stands there. He is also a friend, but he is no mourner.