We Wait Bowing I
by Grace Carol Bomer
Copyright 2011

Christmas 1, Luke 2:22-40

Historical Description:

Grace Carol Bomer is a visual artist currently based in Asheville, NC. According to her website (www.carolbomer.com), “Carol’s work seeks to evoke both image and impression, the tangible world and the spiritual world. Her work has been called ‘a silent form of poetry.’ She views her work as ‘a form of play rejoicing before the face of God’ (Rookmaaker). This is reflected in the name of her Asheville studio, SOLI DEO GLORIA STUDIO.”

Devotional Reflection:

Righteous and devout, Spirit-assured, Simeon awaited the consolation of Israel. Oh, to have such a promise—the Spirit’s pledge!—of seeing the long-promised Savior! Surely Simeon’s very posture exuded eager anticipation as each day began: This day, maybe even this morning, this might be The Day! Did a lifetime of anticipation leave him with a permanent forward tilt, an eager question mark embodied in the neck that craned to search the temple crowds?

Pious patience rewarded: with gnarled hands on new flesh, he exulted:

29“Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace,
according to your word;
30for my eyes have seen your salvation
31that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
32a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and for glory to your people Israel.” (Luke 2:29-32)

Simeon rejoiced, cradling infinity, and then he returned the fragile infant to the wondering grasp of His mother. And then—Simeon waited. And waited. And…waited. Did he live for an hour after seeing his Savior in the flesh? A year, or even a decade? No matter—though the Spirit’s promise had been fulfilled, Simeon died, still waiting. He had received by faith—and seen, and even touched—his salvation, but not yet the consummation of it.

Was Simeon’s posture always that of eager expectation before the day Mary and Joseph carried their firstborn into the temple? What of his stance for the rest of his life, whatever its span, after that climactic moment?  Did he ever droop, or doubt, or even despair, as time ground on and the Romans ruled relentlessly and the suffering of his people continued unabated?

Of Simeon’s waiting posture we can only speculate; our own, we know too well. Sometimes, we wait well. Humming along in our daily-life liturgy, our heads and hearts and hands crane heavenward, busy in service as we eagerly anticipate glimpsing, any day now, maybe even this very morning, the face of the One we yearn to see.

But sometimes, the very weight of the wait crushes. Do we see ourselves in the posture of Carol Bomer’s We Wait Bowing I? Time grinds inexorably. Sudden volcanic sorrows heap heavily upon sedimentary layers of slowly gathering griefs. We wait, bowing under burdens unbearable, our souls aflame with suffering. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words, groanings and sighings that swirl hotly heavenward: funnel clouds of furious despair.

We limp to the Table, singed and smoldering, weary in the wait. We kneel: we wait, bowing, to receive. And—O blessed exchange!—funnel of flame becomes conduit of grace. The Sacrament spirals down, sharp on tongue, hot in throat, burning all the way down: fire fighting fire.

Blood-drenched, we rise, fire-quenched. We sing, “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace…For mine eyes have seen thy salvation…”

Still the waiting burns, but this is a purging fire.  Bowed by the weight of the world, yet buoyed by the Hope that we have, we persevere in our wait for the Day when we shall behold our dear Lord’s face.

Come quickly, Lord Jesus. Strengthen us as we wait bowing.

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