My professor for my Isaiah class is Dr. T. In the time I've had him (one class my first semester, and now half of this semester) I've somehow come to expect, well, to be surprised by him. He seems staid and proper, but at the most unexpected times, right in the middle of class, he will suddenly have these random bursts of humor or sarcasm or excitement or drama. It used to startle me, hearing these things from such a scholarly man, but I've become accustomed to it. Somehow, it's these random bursts that are the most memorable and help me connect the most to the topic at hand.
Anyway, today in class, Dr. T. was talking about the time frame of the second half of Isaiah. "At this point," he said, drawing a chalk line over chapters forty-eight through sixty-six. "We're left knowing that there must be something after Babylon to resolve the problem of Israel's rebellion. To Babylon and beyond, right?" he exclaimed, turning toward us excitedly, a half-smile on his face. It was one of those startling moments when he broke out of his accustomed speech and yanked us into his head. But something in his tone was more than humor, and it caught my attention.
Yes-- Babylon and beyond.
Beyond, beyond, we are always looking beyond. We feel, we think, we hope that there must be something else, something more. And we are right. Qohelet' said that God has set eternity in our hearts, and I believe that we have never been able to quench this burning within us. So we continue to squint forward into the blinding sun and the whipping wind, dreaming of and waiting for the day when that something from beyond will come. We know it is there. We taste it on our tongues, sometimes, catch its scent on the wind, glimpse its shadows on the inside of our eyelids, hear its echoes and whisperings in our stories.
Ah, story. It touches us all in the deep crevices of our souls. After all, what better way to speak of the Something that is still Beyond than the way He chose to speak of Himself . . .