What it really means
Waiting for someone to arrive is a part of life.
We check the time as we wait at the entrance to the Heavenly Clouds Café for our friend to turn up. Five minutes late. Hmm. We pace a bit. As the minutes pass we get a bit anxious, but when half an hour has gone down the drain, we snort with impatience and send them a curt questioning text. We give them another few minutes to reply, then sadly head back to the car. They’d obviously forgotten the appointment we’d been looking forward to for so long.
But half an hour isn’t really a very long time to wait for someone.
What if you’ve been waiting for two thousand years for someone to turn up?
A lot of people have been.
And so did I.
This is what I learned while I waited . . . and waited . . . and waited . . .
In 1962, when I was eight years old, I heard that Christ was going to arrive in the clouds of heaven in 1975. Christ had left planet Earth and gone to heaven about two thousand years ago, so humans had been waiting a very long time for him to turn up. The wonderful thing was that I was one of the Chosen Ones, and he was going to come in my lifetime! I just had to wait for thirteen years. It sounded like a long time to an eight-year-old, but I knew I couldn’t tell God’s son to come sooner than he’d planned, so I was happy to wait.
Of course, 1975 came and went and he didn’t arrive. Church leaders didn’t admit they were wrong. They quoted Matthew 24:36, about no one knowing the time of his return, and shouted at us to keep being faithful, keep paying a tenth of our gross income to the church as well as giving regular offerings to fund God’s work, and respect the ministers because they were God’s representatives on earth.
If we did all these things, we’d be swept up to the clouds of heaven to meet Christ, and then we’d get to sit on his right hand and help him rule the world when he did decide to return.
The years went slowly by while I waited for Christ to come to solve all the world’s problems. He was going to wave a fiery sword at humanity and make them obey him. If they didn’t, he would throw them into the Eternal Lake of Fire, where they would writhe in agony forever. That would teach them!
It was a lot of nonsense, of course.
No one solves anyone else’s problems, and vindictive gods are the product of human imagination, conjured to control others.
But I kept waiting, kept believing, kept paying, kept fearing.
I went to church colleges in England and the USA, graduated, worked, married, and had five children. And still, he didn’t come.
Sometimes, on the sort of day when low grey clouds covered the sky, and the sun suddenly found a chink and sent a ray through that almost blinded me, I pretended for a moment that this natural heavenly wonder heralded the return of Christ. What my child mind had learned to fixate on, my adult mind still hoped for. I’d close my eyes briefly and feel the weight of waiting falsely fall from me, then I’d continue to unpeg the nappies from the line.
I left the church I’d grown up in when I was in my early forties. I gave up the waiting game.
Now I’m in my late sixties and I’ve come to recognise the Bible as a mixed bag of historical writings. It’s a flawed collection of human myths, stories, a bit of history, human experiences, poetry, thoughts, symbolism, longings, and fears.
It does include many references to the “second coming” of Christ. But rather than taking these scriptures literally, I see them as pointing to something awesome and universally inclusive. It’s not an event that will happen in the future. It’s not something I have to wait for.
When I remove the hype around his words engendered by centuries of fraudulent Christianity, I’m left with a simple promise: the state of pure consciousness that the prophet Jesus experienced is also available to me. It can “come” to me.
Eckhart Tolle says it well:
“The “second coming” of Christ is a transformation of human consciousness, a shift from Time to Presence, from thinking to pure consciousness, not the arrival of some man or woman.”
I’ll wait for friends at the entrance to cafés; I’ll wait for tulips to bloom; I’ll wait for a grandchild’s first smile; I’ll wait for an email from a publisher saying they’ve fallen in love with my memoir submission.
I’ll patiently wait for things that need human time to unfold, but I’m no longer waiting for the second coming of pure consciousness.
Pure consciousness has been here all along.
All I have to do is let it through.
With love, Marlane