I Am Simeon

As I was eating the first meal of the day, my family made plans. I did not listen. My thoughts were on the Lord—How soon would He allow me to come to Him? My wife had already gone to live with Him. I missed her these three years. I couldn’t wait, yet I couldn’t leave this life until I saw the Lord’s Christ. He had told me that. I must wait. And so I waited. But it was hard.

I chewed another bite of flatbread. I no longer tasted. I was grateful for the few teeth I had to chew. But oh, I wanted to see the Lord. With the Lord, I would no longer need this old body. Or these few teeth—He would make me whole again—not only in body…

I must go to the temple today. It was the not the Sabbath, nor a feast day when sacrifices and crowds would be there. I would go and see what the Lord would tell me.

“Father, would that be pleasing?”

I shook my head and directed my thoughts to hear my son. “What?”

He repeated his words, slowly as if I would not be able to understand them. “We need your help at the market today.”

I shook my head. I had forgotten that it was market day. I cleared my throat. Now that my hands could no longer form the clay around the spinning wheel, I did nothing to support the family. But I could sell them at market. Market day was important, without the earnings they could not pay taxes. We depended on the sales. “I cannot go today.”

My son stared, his mouth open, but didn’t speak.

I looked around the table, it had grown quiet. “I will go to the temple today.”

My daughter-in-law laid a hand on mine. “It’s not the Sabbath, yet Father.”

I nodded. I felt my son’s scrutiny, like I wasn’t just losing my physical capacities, I was now losing my  mind. I stared back. “The Lord wants me at the temple today.”

He stared out the door, biting his tongue. Finally he nodded. “I will prepare the donkey for you.”

I raised my hand in protest. “You’ll need the donkey for the cart for market. I will walk.”

His wife reminded. “You can make it up the stairs?”

“I’ll be fine.” I would not put my family in any worse case than I was already. I would find a way to walk all those stairs at the temple.

I set off to the temple after the meal. My legs were not strong and I walked along the side of the road where I could lean against a house if I stumbled. I knew this urgency of my spirit was not my own whims. Excitement bubbled within me.

The Lord had something to show me.

I hurried through the crowded streets. Merchants were already setting up their wares outside the temple steps for those travelers who must purchase a sacrifice and couldn’t bring it the distance.

I noticed a couple. The man helped shelter a woman with child. They studied the lambs for sale. He would ask the merchant the price, shake his head, and move on.

They longingly looked over the ewes and lamb, but continued up the street. They reached cages filled with pigeons and turtledoves. They looked at each cage, carefully evaluating each one. Finally the man pointed to a pair at the end, tucked away from view. The merchant at first would not speak with them. They were not his high paying clients. When he finally acknowledged them, he gave a price. The man shook his head. The merchant lowered his price. The man still shook his head. The merchant would not lower the cost any more. The man pulled out his change, counting out to the last coin he held in his hand. The merchant shook his head.

“We must have two.” The man said.

The woman with the child nodded, swaying from side to side as she cooed to the baby. “We can only give what we have.”

He nodded and took only one of the young pigeons.

The merchant opened the cage door to remove one of the birds.

I stepped forward. “How much for that one pigeon?”

The merchant had already turned away to help a wealthy buyer.

The couple stood, waiting for the one bird they had purchased.

I didn’t feel the urgency to get to the temple anymore. Had I heard wrong? Should I have gone to the market for his son?

The merchant finally acknowledged me.

I gave him the required payment for the pigeon.

When the merchant looked for another cage, I pointed to the couple’s cage.

I already knew what my son would say, “Dad, you can’t give to every poor beggar on the street.” But this man didn’t beg. He walked like a man only recently on rough times, and weary at that.

The man embraced him after he placed the bird in his cage. “May God Bless you.”

I patted him on the shoulder. “He does. Shalome.”

The woman’s eyes filled with tears. “Be at peace.”

I turned down a side street, less crowded, and continued to the temple. When I reached the stairs, I paused. On the Sabbath, I leaned heavily on my son to walk each step. How would I walk them now? I looked to the top, almost in despair. The prompting in my heart increased. I must get up the stairs.

Behind me, someone gently held the crook of my arm. “May I help?”

I looked into the face of the man who bought the pigeon. He smiled. “That you may.” I leaned heavily on him. The man was strong; he held me secure with gentleness. Even as the man supported me, he still carried the cage of pigeons, and protectively watched his wife and baby at his side.

When they reached the top of the stairs, the man assisted me to a column. “You are fine?”

I leaned against the column and assured him, once I caught my breath.

“Wait for me, I will help you down the stairs when we are finished.” The man watched my face until I nodded. He nodded back. He turned back to his wife and took a better hold on the cage that held the pigeons. Before they left, the man turned back. He seemed uncertain about leaving me.

The Lord’s peace just rested on me. I did not struggle to breath nor feel the pain from the long walk to the temple and up the stairs. I nodded.

I waited with my back against the column as they walked toward the place where the sacrifice was to be made. They could only go so far, before the priest would take their sacrifice for their burnt and sin offering.

The Lord’s Spirit came upon me clearly. I knew why I must be here. I followed them where they waited for their offering to be presented to the Lord. I grabbed the man’s elbow, just as he had taken hold of mine at the stairs.

He turned, when he saw me, he asked, “Are you well?”

I motioned for the baby in the mother’s arms.

She gave me the baby.

I held that baby close against my chest. I could barely speak as your Spirit told me why I had come to the temple. “Now Lord, You may take your servant, for my eyes have seen Your salvation, given to all people, a light to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel.” Salvation had come to our people. I could die in peace.

The baby wiggled. I feared to hold him, lest I drop him. I regretfully handed Him back. “Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed—a sword will pierce your soul—thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”

When I finished speaking, Anna, a prophetess who lived in the temple, approached. “Thanks be to God Who has heard our plea for the redemption of Jerusalem.”

I could not wipe the smile from my face. The Lord had sent His salvation. The Lord had heard His people’s cries. The Lord would save.

The man, true to his word, helped me down the stairs. He offered to walk me home. I shook my head. I could have danced home, my joy was complete. My peace was full. I was ready to meet my God.

I arrived home late.

My son had started looking for me, concerned that I’d lost my way.

I did not feel my pained hands. I did not stumble over my awkward feet. I did not need help after the long walk home. I told them of Who I had met. They were skeptical, and appeasing. I did not care. I went to bed that night. When I woke, I knew that I would be with Him Who had come to save His people. I would be where I’d always have peace. I would never have any more pain and my joy would be complete. I would be with my Lord God. The Lord did what He said He would do.

I write about what you---
women, wives and moms---
about your family, faith and future.
I write about what's hard, what helps and what heals.
I show you how it's done. And not done.
I hold your hand as you find what matters to the Savior.
And let go of those things that mattered to you, but not to Him.
I write about what Him.
               Sonya Contreras

Author of Biblical fiction, married to my best friend, and challenged by eight sons’ growing pains as I write about what matters.

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Tell of My Kingdom's Glory
Three Book Series