all those with eyes to see, women and men with ears for hearing detect a coming dawn; a reason to go on.
they seem small, these signs of dawn, perhaps ridiculous.
all those with eyes to see, women and men with ears for hearing uncover in the night a certain gleam of light; they see the reason to go on.
Dom Helder Camara
This is what I think that one line I keep pointing to in Mark 13 (vs. 28) says. This poem by Dom Helder Camara uses great images of night and dawn, but talks about a people who detect a coming dawn. To detect a coming dawn you have to be awake. You have to be looking for hope. You have to look for the reasons to keep going even if all around you looks like deep night and destruction.
Watching for dawn reminds me of two things, perhaps ridiculous. One is college—those long nights at the Village Inn with too many cups of coffee, mozzarella sticks (sticks? Why did we ever eat things called sticks?) and cigarettes, when we knew it was time to go home because the sky was getting light. In that case, we had stayed awake, and there was nothing bad about those nights…but we were not looking. We were just being together. The “going on” that needed to happen was going to sleep when dawn came. Is it possible that we are asked to keep awake because people need company? God would like company? (however you conceive God to be…for me God seems to be a relational God)
But I’m also reminded of Lock-ins when I was a youth director. I loved being a youth director but hated those nights. They reminded me of living through things like “Evil Dead” or “Night of the Living Dead” where the protagonist only knew they had to stay alive through the night, and as soon as they saw the light start to come up, they knew they would make it.
Maybe a message of advent is also this: There will be long nights, pay attention and watch for the signs of light, and that will get you through.