Historical setting: A dark age in Gaul
I, the newest recruit at the oars, am serving guard duty with one who has completed his full obligation. He seems to be contemplating his life and the opportunities before him.
At the next tower turn on the wall with this man who calls himself Nic or Nik I choose to call him Nic. I’m thinking of Jesus, meeting in the dark of night to listen to the plea of Nicodemus, a wealthy Pharisee. [John 3] He asks Jesus, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” For Jesus that was no harder a concern than this man Nic seems to worry over now. For Jesus the answer was easy, “You must be born from above.” For me, I can only think of scoffs and clichés. “You’re never too old to sign on again,” or “you just never know what lies ahead,” or maybe that great old unknowable therefore untruthful response: “God has a plan for you.”
Dear God, guide my listening. Amen.
I finally speak, “I will choose to call you Nic, not Nik.”
“Thank you, Thank you, Brother Lazarus! I too am thinking of Nicodemus in the Gospel story. But my father, who seemed my namesake, was named Nikolas. So you surely must know what I’m asking. And if you were Jesus you would say simply, ‘become born of the spirit.’ Isn’t that right Brother Lazarus?”
“You, my brother in Christ, Lazarus, are surely the answer to my prayers. I’ve begged God in every prayer every day, ‘how may I serve you with nothing to give but my father’s iron shirt and sword?’ And now has come this day when I am newly rich! And what would a newly rich man do with a wage of twenty-six years, and a shirt of mail and a sword and a dagger? I know! He can be the patron and the guard of a holy monk with a scrambled mind! You, my friend, are my holy purpose!”
Dear God, what can I say? He surely has a good intention. Please guide my scrambled mind. Amen.
We walk the next two turns in silence, but I can feel his creative sense of joy rising. No more is our silence born of nothing to say; now he has all his years of longing to share his deep Holy Spirit with one who also knows of this kind of joy.