Advent, revisited

I am re-posting this piece from two years ago, since in the intervening time I’ve not been able to do better. From everyone at Single Candle Press: have a Merry Christmas and a blessed 2015. -DA

*****

Bethlehem, Judea
The Census of Quinirius in the years of Augustus

Two men, clad in white, walked a hill overlooking the town. The night, as always outside a camp or the confines of a town, was quiet and cold. Only the moon and stars provided what light broke the darkness. One of those this night shone brightly enough that the shadows, however, held little dominion.

The praise that had taken place was over, and the only witnesses had been the shepherds and their flocks bedded down in these hills. There was time for reflection now, and for walking, and to learn.

One of the two was very old, though his steps were not heavy with age. The other was less so. He had been apprenticed only shortly before the blessed event, and there was still so much that he did not understand. They stepped, but the sandy ground did not show their tracks. They seemed to shine with a light from within, but the luminance cast no shadow. They were here in the land of David, but the lesser of the two felt as if they were also not here. It was not the first such feeling that had come in his new time.

“Friend,” he asked, hesitant to disturb the moment that was upon the land. “What has happened here? Is something new between them and us?”

The old one smiled and shook his head. They paused in their walk, looking down on the edge of the small town, where lights, even in the outbuildings, could still be seen to shine. He leaned on his staff of white as the newcomer attended him. This one seldom spoke, but his words were worth hearing whenever they came.

“Something new? Hardly.” His elder’s eyes—still bright—turned from the town to look at his companion. “Something that has always been, rather, has passed for a while into the realm of men and the line of time.” He smiled, as his gaze returned to the scene below. “It is how they understand things, you see. One moment leads to the next while they live.”

“I understand that, at least, now,” the elder’s apprentice replied. “But why the passing?”

“To show love in the time of men! It will be a blessing to them all, as was the Praising, so that they can hear in its telling and retelling. The Spirit moves in such times, you see, and communes with whom it will.” He straightened, and his staff moved forward as their walk began once more.

“To them all?”

“Yes—all. Every one,” the old one asserted. “Some will not take it up, of course, but that is their choice. Those that love will see in their hearts, even if they do not hear the stories … or know the names.”

The apprentice looked back toward the lights of the town. “And what then will they see?”

The old one paused once more, and bent down to the sandy ground. He pressed his finger into the soil. This time, it yielded, and unlike on any other of their journeys, a few flecks of the dust adhered. The grains came up with him as a display. His companion watched as his fingers flicked them away. The grit dissipated until only a single speck remained. The elder regarded the smallest bit of Judea that he could obtain.

“They will see someone in themselves,” he mused. “Someone less than Who created them, and wonder to their own purpose. Then the Spirit comes, you see, and fear retreats before Him. Love is left behind, and another part of the Whole is set in place, each tended as carefully as any other … each in his own time.” The old one paused, and together they looked back toward the lights of the town. “Or in hers,” he intoned.

A final flick of his fingers returned even the last speck of soil to the ground from whence it had risen, and the lesser of the two perceived his lesson. That ground was made of many of the same. So was the land, as was this Earth … and that remained only a part of the many attentions of Heaven.

“So long an effort, is this whole of parts,” the lesser of the two whispered.

“He is a Craftsman … one who works slowly and well, until His results are achieved. How else would it happen, outside the line of time?”

The young one nodded, his head lowering in respect as they moved on. As they walked, the Judea landscape seemed to absorb them, and after a short time, they too were gone. The moment had passed, and yet remained. As with all His servants, it was eternal.

Choose to Love, -DA

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