Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A Sign

When evening comes, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,’ and in the morning, ‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.  A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.
Matthew 16:2-4

"What do you seek?"

The sun was rising over the teacher's shoulder as he spoke.  Bulbous and red, it demanded attention.  Bad weather coming.  They must make haste.  The rocks behind him stood like flames, capturing a fiery canyon that led away and away to the river and eventually to the sea.  

"What do you seek?"

Again, the question, 

"I do not seek," the traveller's eyes betrayed his thoughts.  No, looking for something was not his purpose.  He no longer looked; he already knew.  And now, with this snare, the world would know the charlatan, the faker, the false promise.  "I have come for a sign."   The words spun across the still space between them, like a single strand from a web.  A web made for trapping.   The traveler averted his gaze from the eyes of his prey, and he focused again on the morning sky.

"A sign?"  The teacher's mouth tightened slightly at the corners; his eyes lightened, pupils contracting in the brightening day.

These things showed the traveler the man was not simple.  He had understood.  The trap had been sprung.

"A sign such as this?"  The teacher stood and raised his eyes to the sky and the red underbelly of the gathering clouds.

Foolish man, the traveller thought.  Maybe he is simple after all - gesturing toward what every schoolboy knew.  Red sky in the morning bespoke storm and rain.  He finished the thought - and red sky at night was a promise of clear weather.  His impatience with his task, this baiting and trapping of this teacher, this prophet, this worker of miracles showed in the traveler's posture and demeanor.  His lips drew back from his teeth in an unwholesome smile.  This man before him, gesturing at the sky, knew not who his questioner was.  But, he would soon enough.  This rabble rouser, this spawn of Satan.  This destroyer of the Law.  He would know when God Almighty struck him down - or swallowed him whole.

"No," the teacher spoke again, with authority, "you have not come for a sign.  Because you have been given signs.  Isn't the world itself enough miracle for you?  Isn't the fact that you live and speak enough?  The sun rises and sets - the weather comes and goes.  If you don't recognize these obvious signs, how will you recognize any others?  You have come for me.  You are a foolish and shortsighted man.  There is no sign that will convince one who will not see.  Stop wasting time - stop traveling to places you refuse to know - stop asking for things you have already been shown."

He sat back down, crossing his legs.  His voice had dropped to a whisper.  The teacher's eyes - great pools of compassion - looked directly into those of the traveler.

"Swallowed whole is what you seek.  Swallowed whole will come.  But only for three days."  The teacher looked longingly at the heavens.  He followed the flight path of a bird, a bird that slipped between ragged scraps of sky and wisps of clouds.  A wild finger of light stroked his face and in the moment, in the moment, it was as if a fog lifted from the traveller.  He saw into the Teacher's eyes - Wisdom, Glory, the Ancient of Days.

And then the man spoke again - the man with the eyes of God, the Teacher.  "It won't be enough sign for you."  The last words were uttered with great tenderness and love.

Father God, thank you for this new day.  Thank you for daily miracles.  Thank you for your never-ending love, your undeserved love.  Thank you for faith.

Linking with Women Helping Women

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