The ache had all but gone. I had passed it off as unreasonable hope many years ago. This deferred hope and longing. But it was no longer deferred as much as unreachable and impossible. King Solomon himself said :- "Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life." And my heart had been sick with it, but had healed, without the longing immediately fulfilled. Now we are visited in our relative dotage with this "tree of life" indeed, surprised by hope and joy.
It has been a strange few months and of course Zechariah cannot speak, so the joy is pressed down and is truly "unspeakable". A consequence of unbelief. How guilty I had been of that myself. Doubts and un-met needs. Other people's children swirled around me in life and in my dreams. Chattering. Unfettered smiles and hearts. How fettered my heart had been with envy and grief. For childlessness is a grieving. A loss. We imagine them. A little girl, like me. Like I was, with a cheeky smile, and drifting soft brown curls. We give them names. Our children that never live have names. Hannah. Of course I would of named her Hannah. My alter ego of tears and grief and barrenness.
This is our story though of "How blessed am I..." Zechariah had been chosen on that day to go into the Holy of Holies in the Temple. Never before, but on this day, his name had come up, drawn by lot. They had tied the rope around his ankle in case he was struck dead in that terrible Holy of Holies. I had stood outside unsuspecting of what was going to come. He took longer that he ought and a secret dread and fear had crept into my heart. Would we hauling him out? My thoughts drifted to my own fear of God, the fear of not being struck dead, but a lack of goodness. Of with-holding. "No good thing does he with-hold..." And yet had I not had "good" things with-held from me...specifically running around, little, smiling, chattering "good" things.
I did not have much longer to wait for he emerged, pale and tired looking....and struck entirely dumb. Others around concluded he had seen some sort of vision. He had more duties for a period of time at the Temple and so could not immediately come home. I am still uncertain as to what actually took place and all that was said, and more importantly, it's significance. But it is significant. A much deeper purpose than our desire for children.
And so in the this new season, I am waiting. Suprised by new life, surprised by sickness in the morning. Surprised by the answer to this old-new begging aching pleading prayer. We are to call him John. Zechariah has told me this through writing it down. John who will be a joy, a delight, for whom many will rejoice. John who will turn people's hearts back to the Lord, who will prepare a way. In our hearts we sence preparation for Someone and Something else. Mary is coming to visit also from Nazareth. My deeply contained building excitment and wonder can be shared with this dearest cousin. God's goodness is a mysterious thing, hidden and not always obvious in it's purposes. I cannot peel back the cover but it is real. Real and sure. So I wait. Wait for family to visit, wait for this life to grow, wait for this Tree of Life, wait for a Coming.
1. Proverbs 13:12
2. Psalm 84:11
3. Luke ch 1:1-38