6.07.2011

Altar

I gripped the leather harness. It was an object of comfort, really: consistent, steady, true. It had been misted with the Great Mediterranean Sea in the West and and further East than the Jordan. Aram had gotten to the point were he did not mind it, even though it signified a journey must be undertaken. He shook slightly to settle the harness along his muscled back.

The steady harness was unlike this Yahweh: irrational, foreign, anything but consistent. He was full of promise one moment, and pronouncing judgments the next.

The sun was now just starting to rise. I could feel its warmth, but my heart was pumping cool blood through my veins, and I was weak as though I had been telling lies. "It isn't far, Aram," I said as I rubbed behind his ears.

The donkey made a little sputtering noise as if to say It isn't me who's worried about this.

We set out an hour later, and we had passed the road to Shechem by midday.

Kenan had come with us. He had tried to show me the lambs that were young and unblemished, and I could see the confusion on his face when I told him we wouldn't need them. But that was the thing about Kenan: soon after, he nodded and questioned me no further. And as we walked along these dusty roads he did not let my apparent lack of preparation trouble him. I surely love this servant; he is like a son to me. I do not think it was by chance that he had finished his weekly duties early and was therefore ready to accompany myself and Issac.

The land began to roll about, as though to prepare us for that terrible mount ahead.

I don't suppose Kenan understood his role in this story, because I never told him. And perhaps I am making more of it. I may have gone through with these plans anyway had Jared or Shem come along. Surely, though, Kenan helped enable myself to perform such a confusing deed. Kenan understood my authority, and did not question it, although oftentimes (and I readily admit) I lack the foresight or wisdom to make prudent decisions. I cannot suppose that he figures I have some master plan. I am not sure why he trusts so much, truthfully.

But it was his example that propped up some spark of desperate faith to continue on.

We had reached Moriah. "Kenan, wait here." He nodded, and sat facing away from the sun, literally at the foot of the mountain. Aram sputtered again, punctuating the ensuing silence.

Issac was clearly vexed at this point. But he followed me up the trail. It was worn, strangely, as though many had recently passed through. But we had seen no one on our journey.

Issac blurted "Where is the lamb?"

My heart thundered, and my head screamed do not hesitate. So I allowed myself only a moment to think. "Yahweh will provide it himself." I choked on the "provide" just like those times when your mouth and lungs are ready to speak but your tongue thinks you are swallowing and the words get hung up.

Issac stopped walking. I turned around to look at him. I wanted to apologize, but instead I thought of Kenan, and of promises, and of stars in the sky and sand by the seas, and I spun him around and bound his wrists behind him. He had gone completely limp. I do not understand. I cannot fathom how this is being asked of me to be faithful. But perhaps there is some plan.

I hardly remember the next few minutes. But I will never forget when I drew the blade and how the sun glinted in my eyes. I remember the nerve endings firing and my heart protesting my actions. It is funny how the head does not ask the heart for permission to proceed in these testing times (though one can certainly defer control to it). And I remember that short circuit, as though the synapses shrunk away from each other to halt time.

The Malachim stopped me, for those who do not know the story. And really, Issac and myself are the only ones that know it, because everyone else knows the story with the resolve guaranteed. Issac doesn't die. Period. Issac is right here, with us. What a lovely story. But I was really going to kill him. By some shred of faith I was going to give up my world. Issac knows also, and he has barely an ounce of faith but what I have passed on to him.

We settled in Beersheba for the night. Issac was completely silent. Kenan, bless him, remained his normal self, even though he surely knew that something significant had transpired. He is like a child full of faith, confused at what his eyes are showing him but still believing in eventual resolution.

They are both asleep now. I, however, have found it impossible to rest. My hands are still trembling. It is so hard for me to believe that Issac was asked of me, and harder still that I was willing to offer him. It is only possible, I think, because I believe in this Yahweh's authority. It is so difficult, but I offer all to Him. Surely he is more just to me than I am to Kenan, and his promises are better than what I can see with my own eyes.

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