The Dawn of Hope
“‘Watchman, how much longer the night?
Watchman, how much longer the night?’
The watchman replies,
‘Morning has come, and again night.
If you will ask, ask; come back again.’”
The question is on our lips: How much longer will this pandemic last? The answer is as unclear as the answer of the watchman in Isaiah’s prophecy.
There is a passage in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings in which one of the protagonists, Aragorn, asks the same question. In the midst of a fierce nighttime battle to defend the stronghold of Helm’s Deep, a fortress sheltering many people, he looks out from the walls. “This is a night as long as years,” he has just said. His companion had answered, “Dawn will not help us, I fear.” Aragorn’s response could be ours as well: “Yet dawn is ever the hope of men.” This is when he looks over the parapet. His enemies jeer at him. “Why do you look out? Do you wish to see the greatness of our army?”
He replies simply: “I looked out to see the dawn.”
We wait. We must endure waiting; it is a part of life. No human person can hasten the sunrise. But there is One Who not only created the light, the sun, the beauty of every sunrise, but Who can bring light into our darkness. He is the One Who “calls [the light] and it obeys Him trembling,” (Bar. 3:33) the One Who can say, “I will awake the dawn.” (Ps. 57:9)
On the night of that first Holy Saturday, the night “worthy alone to know the time and hour when Christ rose” (Easter Exultet), Jesus Christ awakened the dawn of hope and new life. During the following days He brought light to the hearts of His disciples, these hearts under the shadow of fear and grief.
In Tolkien’s story, dawn brings help: an army of friends and kinsmen comes in haste to the aid of the sorely-tried defenders, turning near-defeat into victory. In our story—that is history—Jesus Christ won the victory for us when He triumphed over sin and death and rose again that glorious Easter morn. We may still wait for the passing of this current crisis, for healing and a return to normalcy. We may still battle the temptation to lose hope. But even now in our waiting, our trials, hardships, fear, sickness and grief, the light of Jesus’ victory can shine. “Who is this arising like the dawn, fair as the moon, resplendent as the sun, formidable as an army?” (Sg. 6:10) This is Jesus, our Day, Who is ever the hope of men. May we allow Him to re-awaken in our hearts the dawn of hope, the hope of eternal life, and to even now shine on us the warm rays of His consoling, life-giving love.
Sr. Cecilia, CFR