After Cherith would it ever be the same again?
Days of blistering heat and boredom, nights of bitter cold and silence. This had been Cherith. Temptation constant to escape the silent lonely. Hidden from the plots of men – yet somehow not the strife of tongues. Voices in the prophet’s mind relentless. Incessantly crying for abandonment of the wildness, proposing tempered peace of a Gilead bolthole.
Yes, this had been Cherith. Months and months of lonely drought. Raven-carried provision, the wadi’s trickle. Standing before one the soul could not even see, utter darkness alternating with light too bright for weak eyes. In the place called Cutting, facing the knife and not turning away.
And after Cherith – this much was sure now – after Cherith it would never be the same again.
For when the day would breathe and shadows flee, all would have changed. When promise made, heart would already have been sealed with flashes of a fire the very flame of the LORD. And in moment of contracting, though many waters could not quench that fiery love nor floods drown it, yet the waters so long held back in heaven from earth would flow over prophet’s soul.
And then, only then, would the soul come up out of the desert. Almost unrecognisable as all Israel asked who this was, leaning on the beloved. Defences dismantled, baptism in the untamed God much deeper now – and belonging perhaps no more in the courts of men. Contract irreversible, sealed with water and wine and oil. And prophet set that day into office, carrying the word of the LORD which is truth.
Yes, indeed. After Cherith it would never be the same again.
This piece is a part of a series of creative reflections on the prophet Elijah and his experiences as he stood before the LORD the God of Israel, especially in 1 Kings 17-18. The Song of Solomon seems to keep creeping into the story too, a sign perhaps that Cherith was not just formation of a prophet but also love story of one soul and its God. John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, Jeremiah and the Psalmist make cameo appearances because…well, just because really.