Hope’s different robes

What shall I hope for today?

From the life of Jesus, the story is told of Jairus. He is a ruler of a Galilee synagogue, who asks Jesus to heal his 12-year-old daughter.

But while Jesus is caught up with someone else, a messenger arrives with the news that his daughter has died, it is too late. He’s advised not to trouble Jesus any further.

But Jesus says: ‘Be not afraid, only believe,’ and continues to the man’s house, where there are flute players and a crowd making a commotion.

The grief and the mourning are in full tilt, organised hysteria.

Jesus informs those present that the girl is not dead but asleep. He then goes upstairs and restores her to life.

Talitha Koum he says in Aramaic, meaning ‘Little girl, I say to you, get up!

And so the wailing mourners depart. Wondrous relief floods the household.

There is a similar, but dissimilar, story told from Buddha’s life, a few thousand years earlier.

A poor woman who has lost many children is overwhelmed with grief when her last baby dies, leaving her with no children.

The pain is too much. Broken, she wanders the neighbourhood clasping the dead child to her chest. She is looking for a miracle worker to bring her baby back to life.

She goes to Buddha and asks him to revive the child.

He sees she is in no condition to be reasoned with. He tells her he will bring her baby back to life if she brings him some herbs picked in the garden of a house where there has been no death.

She goes off to look for such a house, searching for a long time.

Eventually she realises there is no such place – every household suffers death.

Returning to Buddha, she finally understands the inevitability of death. She lets go of the child and lays the corpse at his feet.

One child lives, one child dies.

As stories, they pull us in such different directions, yet each with hope in its veins.

There is who we shall be, as well as what we shall have. The peace of acceptance as well as the delight at gift.

Hope’s different robes.

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