The Last Day Of Darkness

Today begins for me, like every other day for the past decades, in darkness.

Not because the sun has yet to rise, but because my eyes are worthless. Dead, unseeing stones in my head. Sightless appendages draped with needless eyelids.

I shuffle in my hovel, groping for the putrid rag I call my cloak. My fingers slide up the leg of a small stool, on which they locate the crust of bread I saved from the day before. I put it to my cracked lips and take a bite.

Today will be another empty day in an endless string of empty days. Another day sitting in the heat and the dust by the road, begging for spare coins. Begging the laughing ones, the busy ones, the working ones, the seeing ones. Scavenging like one of the dogs that wander the streets. Only I can’t wander. I can only sit in the stifling darkness.

I’m sitting by the road, taking in the sounds of wagons, and carts, vendors and shoppers, the normal cacophonous background to my darkness, when I hear the growing commotion of a large crowd drawing near. Is today a holiday? Is there a procession? Is a prefect or governor about to pass by? Maybe he’ll look down on me from his royal coach and toss a coin my way.

“What’s going on?” I call out. “Who’s coming? Can someone tell me?”

“Jesus of Nazareth is passing by,” someone yells down to me.

Jesus of Nazareth? Yes, I’ve heard of him. He heals the blind, the crippled, the deaf. No one has ever done the works he has done. And did not the prophets foretell that the Messiah, the final and glorious son of David, will do these very things? And he’s coming my way!

“Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” I shout, as loud as I can. “Son of David, have mercy on me!” I shout again and again.

“Shut up old man,” someone hisses.

I shout still louder, against the chaotic noise of the crowd. “Son of David!”

“Quiet you old fool!” another voice yells.

“Have mercy on me! Have mercy on me!”

Suddenly someone touches my shoulder, then grabs my hand. “Come my friend, he’s calling for you – Jesus is calling for you. Well, are you just going to sit there?”

He helps me to my feet, and leading me by the hand, calls out, “Make way. Let us through. The Teacher has summoned him.” We stop, and the crowd grows silent. I stand there, listening, waiting. And then I hear a voice, a wonderful, tender voice. A voice I have longed to hear my whole life.

“What do you want me to do for you?”

My cracked lips speak. “Lord.” My heart is pounding. “Let me recover my sight.”

Can a voice smile? Can it dawn upon you like the first sunrise in creation? Can a voice flood your being with infinite joy? He says, ?Recover your sight; your faith has made you well.?

My head explodes with blazing light. I’m blinking and tears flood my eyes. Slowly my eyes begin to focus for the first time, and…I am seeing…a face. A smile. And laughing eyes. I’m gazing into the face of the Son of David. The face of the One I will follow for the rest of my life.

photo by Salva [Om Qui Voyage]

Mark Altrogge

I’m a pastor at Saving Grace Church in Indiana, PA. I’m married to Kristi, have 5 kids, and a growing number of grandkids. I enjoy songwriting, oil painting and coffee, not necessarily in that order.