Readings: Isaiah 35:1-10; Psalm 146: 5-10; James 5:7-10; Matthew 11:2-11
The wilderness and dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing.
The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the Lord, the majesty of our God.
Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees; Say to those who are of a fearful heart, “Be strong, do not fear! Here is your God. He will come with vengeance, with terrible recompense. He will come and save you.”
The eyes of the blind shall be opened, ad the ears of the deaf unstopped; then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy.
For waters shall break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert; the burning sand shall become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water; the haunt of jackals shall become a swamp, the grass shall become reeds and rushes.
A highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Holy Way; the unclean shall not travel on it, but it shall be for God’s people; no traveler, not even fools, shall go astray.
No lion shall be there, nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it; they shall not be found there, but the redeemed shall walk there. And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
Isaiah 35, NRSV
All The Light We Cannot See; Braiding Sweetgrass; Two-Part Invention; The Bishop’s Wife; Fairy Tale. Every so often, a book is so beautifully written, or tells such an entrancing story, that I don’t want to reach the end. So I slow down at the three-quarter mark, stretching it out days beyond what is necessary. I’d like to think it’s because I don’t want them to end, that I want to linger longer in their magic. I suspect it’s because I don’t want them to end in disappointment, that the end won’t live up to the beginning and the middle. I’d almost rather not know the end than face a dissatisfying one.
The same feels true about the culmination of faith history – or it would if the ending wasn’t already given away. The coming of the Lord is the end of the partial, the death of what drains life and hope from us. The blind see, the deaf hear, the desert offers life-giving water. The end of everything: pure poetry, abounding love.
Could there be a better ending?
[None of the books listed disappointed – although I’m still reading Stephen King’s Fairy Tale…]