When you actually read the text, you carry along, 35 verses into the second chapter of Luke, and you've gotten through the "no room at the Inn" and you're past the Shepherds' arrival, and you get to the presentation at the Temple 8 days after the birth of Christ, and you get to the "Glory to God" that we still say every Sunday morning, in one version or another, and then, well, then time slows and stops.
Simeon, we discover, has been waiting for this child. He is told to come to the temple that day, it being promised to him that he would see the Messiah before he died. Every morning, waking up and wondering. Today, tomorrow, yesterday, running into one long litany of questions and attempts to hold faith.
I understand about waiting your whole life for one thing - a single, glorious moment that defines you. Not for nothing, I will mention we waited for 6 years for Gabriel. And then, when I became pregnant, we waited for 3 months, waiting to see if the pregnancy would stick. Waiting, watching. We waited for 6 days between diagnosis, and this terrible anniversary today.
After Simeon - when his part in the story starts, time stops, at least if you are a dead baby mum.
"Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother . . . And a sword will pierce your own soul too."
Takes your breath away, doesn't it? You hand over your baby to do the right and acceptable thing, to do the thing that is always done at 8 days, you pay your bits and bobs, and you expect a generic bit of praise, a banal bit of blessing, and you get the promise of pain and blood and anguish.
On this day, 2 years ago, an impossibly nice doctor told us that this was the end. She was kind and merciful, but so very final. We made phone calls and plans, and we waited. We made what tiny, piteous choices were available to us. And we waited.
People frequently ask me if the 10 of December, 2007 was the worst day of my life. What if I told you that was my moment of becoming? What if I told you it was my clarion time?
An instant, an entire universe. You can twist and spin all of space: constellations, galaxies, quasars, pulsars and twinkling starlight into the area of your open palm and hold it there. Everything since the dawn of time, can play out in the space between your eyes, in the time it takes to blink. All you would ever need to do and say. It takes no time to affirm all that has virtue and meaning. The shout of Gloria can end before it ever begins.
It is simple to accomplish these feats, far simpler than my once young mind would have expected. It does not take much to focus everything. For everything to stay focused a particular way, for the rest of your life.
A sword. . . piercing your own soul.