And so the ever-circling years have circled again, and the circle is completed.
In the myth-time, there is a Creation, and an End. God or the gods act, decisively, things start and then finish. We go from Eden to a New Jerusalem; we go through Ragnarok to the time when the All-Father sits down to feast with the warriors at rest.
But within the great Prince 2 Waterfall of Myth, there are embedded the workpackages (or, if you prefer, “sprints”) of time. Each just one year long, in which mythic time is recreated in little – birth, growth, death. The yearning, the arrival of Messiah, the working-out, the death and the new life, poured out abundant. The excitement of change, and the drudgery of living out life in mundanity. The children of Adam and Eve are born, they reproduce, they die, and the world turns. And so the days they turn into years, and still no real tomorrow appears.
It’s the dilemma that the much-reborn Doctor faces. 12 – or is it 13? – regenerations now. Yet still he is tied to the circles of the world. He comes back to life – he makes friends. He fights unthinkable foes, we are set up – yet again – for one last Battle to end all Battles. Skaro rises and falls. Gallifrey is threatened – is fallen – is hidden – is back again. The Daleks are wiped from the face of the universe, order is restored to the twisted skein of Time. And again the Doctor regenerates, and again the Master and Davros wait. For they know that, in this world or a parallel one, their time will come again. And again. And again.
For the Doctor, as for the Christian, the big day never really comes. We create it afresh – with new configurations – time and time again. We light the Advent candles, and wait for the End to come. And we know it’s coming soon – but just as the Doctor is trapped in an eternal circle – as long as there’s one last shark to jump, one final enemy come back unexpectedly through some implausible deus ex machina – so we know that, when the last candle is lit, and the nativity set is put away again, we’re back on that long, long haul towards another Stir-up Sunday.
He’s not really the Messiah, he’s just like us, really. But we have this great advantage – we can be set free from the circles of the world. We know we will one day step out of the circle – break the cycle – jump out of the spiral and into the great Myth – the one where there are no more loops to loop, no more reappearing enemies to defeat – no more Definitely the Last Battle to end All Battles This Time. It’ll be good to get there. We could all do with an End, in the end.