Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Redeem the Time

I was listening to this story on NPR, and thinking, not coincidentally, about Advent.

Almost spontaneously, I started singing my favorite Advent hymn. Perhaps it is because I am old, or always tired, or just getting more and more sappily sentimental as years go by, but alone in my car, listening to the story of this poor man struggling to recover the life he had before being sent of on this grand foreign adventure, I found I couldn't help myself.

As I sang, I started to cry.

O come, O Come Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lowly exile here,
Until the Son of God appear.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel, shall come to thee, O Israel.

The pleading of the words, and the almost awfulness of the call to rejoice in the middle of them, was too much for me in that context. At that point, for that moment, they became real: the throbbing expectation, the longing, the need; and the fulfillment, that has come, that is coming. The experience of eternity in the temporary; that is not yet temporary enough, that is, in its own way, eternal. The redemption of this time, for this soldier, will be the redemption of time itself.

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