Recently, I received an unusual and poignant phone call from a stranger.
I was sitting in my office, working at the computer. These days, most of my correspondence is done by email, so I’m always a little surprised when my phone rings. “Hello?” I said, listening to find out who was calling.
The voice at the other end was hesitant, and the difference in our accents made it hard for me to understand what he was saying. He asked my name, which made me suspicious; then he asked if my last name was something else that I couldn’t quite make out, as if “Lee” might be my middle name.
After a minute of this kind of back and forth, I finally got what he was trying to tell me: he was looking for his son, whom he had neither seen nor spoken to in twenty years. While combing the Internet, the man had found my name and number; he had called hoping that I was the one. When he was convinced that I was not, he still clung to the hope that somehow I would know his son — did I know where to find him? Logically, there was no reason why I would; but broken hearts don’t always follow the rules of logic.
I wished him well. He told me that I was very nice, with a wistfulness that seemed to say, I hope my son is nice to me, if I ever find him.
Then we hung up, and that was that.
I felt strangely out of joint after the call. I could hear the man’s longing, and the deflated resignation that came when I punctured his hope. Who knows how many times he would go through this? Would he ever succeed in finding his son? And if he did, would they be able to reconcile over whatever had held them apart for so long?
Deep longing and dashed hopes, days of darkness and despair.
It’s Saturday. Jesus has been tortured and crucified by the powers of the state. His body now lies in a cold, dark tomb. The disciples had thought, This is the one, at last! Look at everything he can do — we’ve never seen such power! Listen to everything he says — we’ve never heard anyone speak with such wisdom and authority! Surely this is our Messiah, our King, the one who will fulfill all our hopes and dreams!
And they were right. But they seem to have understood nothing of what Jesus had tried to tell them about his fate. And so they are fearful and disoriented, keeping to the shadows, wondering what will happen next.
The light shines brightest when it comes to us in the midst of darkness.