The Great Disappointment - 1844


(22nd October 1844:) Wm. [William- 3 syllables] Miller awakes, sensibly, (early. With consciousness comes a hyphen of disquiet. Lucy is still asleep.)

(He collects, momentarily,) And observes (from the look of the ceiling, the creaking of the gate outside, the dull light and the poised silence) that the world has continued. (For a small amount of time a small part of his mind waits, weighing whether it is worth getting out of bed: is it better to be in pyjamas than to be half-dressed? Lucy stirs. Wm. Miller rises.)

Washing and dressing without ceremony,

He eats breakfast alone at the window. (Bread, coffee. Lucy joins him and stands at the adjacent window. She watches a bird on the oak tree; he stares at a sapling).

 

(He finishes the bread in his hand and checks his watch. Placing her water glass on the windowsill,) Lucy comes to embrace him; (her face is drawn. She loves her husband and she loves the Lord. Today these meet on her countenance. Leaving his reverie,) he responds,

But his cup slips, drops, and smashes (She looks afraid.)

He makes light of it- quips, “its time had come.” (She thinks, he has not made a remark like that in months).

He will go to the church now, he suggests (she agrees- she will join shortly- leave the cup.)

 

(Many eyes are watching for Christ this day in Low Hampton, NY, while others are watching Wm. Miller as he walks down Lower Rd.) At the church he joins his congregation, (perhaps the most earnest congregation in all of America- characterised, presently, by quiet sincerity. Their expectation is, on the whole, glad rather than fretful. They wait all morning and then all afternoon.)

At four o’clock a late lunch is agreed (Lucy suggested it.)

They spend the evening glassily, waiting (Someone is singing. Wm. Miller leafs through Daniel; his eyelids and deportment dip, he sits up straighter- this cycle repeats.)

Around midnight, despite himself, he sleeps (26 years’ eschatology have caught up in this moment. Lucy wakes him. All are tired, some have gone. There are no questions yet. They walk home.)

 

(23rd October 1844): Late, home, they’re met by the cup’s still fragments, (lying in pieces beneath the black window. As he sees the broken vessel, Wm. Miller feels a mixture of chagrin and confusion, waxing,)

and so begins the Great Disappointment.