I got a note from a friend. She’d been visiting the mall late one evening. She said that she had looked for Saint John but missed him, “though we didn’t go through the Macy’s or Penney’s mattress departments where I assume he sleeps.”
I hadn’t thought about that.
“Rabbi, where are you staying?” I said when we saw him next.
“Not here,” he said.
He gave me an address.
We talked about the importance of geography for people. “Where do you live?’ is a question we ask often. I think it’s a way of sorting people. If we know where they are from, we can anticipate how they will think and act.
“Nathanael discounted Jesus because he was from Nazareth,” I said. “And you, I mean, the disciples were very hesitant about the woman in Samaria.”
John nodded. “For good or ill, every group of people tends to evaluate every other group of people from somewhere else. In fact, that tendency is at the heart of Advent.”
“No room in the inn?” I said, hesitantly.
John shook his head. “Don’t get wrapped up in the little details of Christmas,” he said with a gentle firmness. “Advent is the expectation of deliverance, of royal peace, of holy authority. ‘The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.’ It’s more than the story of a wandering couple or a transient rabbi.”
“It’s the construction company’s owner moving into the city he just built?” I said, anxious to offer a new metaphor.
“No, it’s the true light that gives light to everyone finally coming into the world,” John said. “Not everyone recognized him at first. But slowly we did. And by that light we saw that he was part of a geography that was completely different than ours, yet ours was part of his.”
“You get consumed by today’s details. You need to keep the whole story in mind.” And he walked into a store. I looked up at the sign and laughed: “Things Remembered.”