October 23

The Great Disappointment


It’s terrible when something you expect doesn’t come to pass.

You’d made plans based on your leader’s calculations: a Biblical reference to revolutions of the Sun and Moon; a pattern of numbers derived from syllabics and the frequency of letters within a verse; the odd phrasing of “a clearing,” interpreted to mean a clearing out, a sorting, a taking up of the worthy.

All your money, signed over to your unbelieving brother.  He’d laughed at your generosity, and you’d felt superior, then.  Enjoy the money, Hiram, for the hours that remain.  I won’t be needing it.

At those words, Hiram laughed harder, folded the check, said See you tomorrow.

During that final parting from your boss, you let fly a righteous speech about repetitive tasks, insufficient pay.  His smug, skeptical face remained impassive, expecting next week’s business would resume as usual.

Your spouse began to falter in the final hours, questioning your faith and your judgment.  You suspected you’d be taking the journey alone.

On October 22, the day of the prophecy, you waited.

And waited.



This morning, your spouse woke you with a smile.  I see you haven’t been taken up.

Wipe the smile off your face, you said.  I signed everything over to my brother: the bank account, the deed to our home.

That’s when you learned that your brother and your spouse had spoken yesterday, and agreed to nullify the property exchange.  It was all a big joke to them.

And to others.  Apparently, you’d told more people than you realized about the October 22 prophecy.  Everyone you encountered seemed to smile with condescension.  Some of them said, Have you not gone up?…and then covered their mouths and turned their heads away.

None of them — not your spouse or your brother, not your boss or coworkers or random passersby.  None of them seemed to respect the great disappointment you felt.

For you, the world ended because it didn’t.