As we sit by our Bewilderness campfires, flames burning high, I think of a story that’s already been told: of another fire that was burning in the wilderness. May our minds drift back to Moses’ epic…and go back to where his story all began.
I imagine Moses’ mother being a great woman of God—definitely underrated to say the least. I mean, all three of her children played powerful roles in the Exodus story. She had to be doing something right. But what I think makes her so great is that she was a woman who truly knew how to hope. What I mean is, that Moses was only with her for a short three months until she couldn’t hide him any longer from Herod’s dooming death sentence over the land. Can you imagine the moment you realize all other options have been eliminated and now the risk of sending your son away in a basket on the water actually looks like the best choice ? Of all the things she could have done, she heard a Voice in those worried moments that told her all was to be okay, and she believed.
In that hour when her feet were on the edge of the water, I doubt she was thinking of herself and how great her loss would be. She wasn’t sending off her baby, thinking, “I hope you become a deliverer one day so we can all be rescued .” After all, she had him for the joy of having a son, not so that he could become a “somebody” to help our her people. No, instead, I believe she was thinking about his life. She didn’t know where he’d end up. She didn’t know if he’d ever come back. She didn’t know if he would even live, but she hoped .
What’s amazing is that after Moses’ bumpy boat ride he was returned to his birth mother for a few months more. Under the guise of being just a ‘random’ Hebrew woman, she was even paid wages to nurse him. That’s an awesome miracle sidenote. I imagine she gave him a name during that time. After all, it wasn’t her who named him “Moses,” but the Egyptian Queen who found him in the river. I imagine her singing songs over him in her native tongue and praying faith-filled prayers, knowing this wouldn’t be forever. Then, the time came when Moses was weaned, and this mother had to say goodbye AGAIN, leaving her baby in the arms of another woman, another mother, another home. From then on, Moses was raised as an Egyptian, but the memories of his birth mother were still somewhere behind those eyes. His true home, the songs, the prayers…they were all still there in his story even if he couldn’t remember them.
We, like babes at the breast of God, have been sent on this risky pilgrimage of earth. He sent us out not with the sole goal of becoming deliverers, somebodies, or even world-changers- but in hopes that we would return again to that original spot: simply as His beloved child. Yes, His intent isn’t to sail us away to exotic castles, but onto a path back to Home again, where our name is more than Moses, but something whispered in secret. Where our purpose becomes to love and be loved, more than any purpose to conquest and conquer.
I’ve written a poem for those who’ve known the risky basket rides away from comfort, have felt the sting of religious whips, and tasted the first salty breath of red water passages. May it be a poem of praise for the great exodus from mindsets and lifestyles that kept us bound. May it be the tambourine of thanks that we’ve gone from laboring for mercy to the grace-given circle dances of the free lands.
For many, these words may seem shrouded in mystery, for others clear as day, but wherever you stand, know this: we are held like infants in the arms of God. Let us rest here with hearts grateful for our ongoing salvation.Let us climb in His lap, not with lofty hopes of becoming, but rather beholding the face of our Father. It is then, and only then, that the becoming will take care of itself.
I have been the babe Moses, rocked on the chest of Yahweh.
He is both my Father and my Mother.
Outside, an agitated world of manhunts and swords.
Here I am hidden in cradled arms.
I have been the babe Moses, cozied into a basket.
A water wagon to shuttle me far.
The waves that drown my brothers, carry me to safety.
Here I am hidden in papyrus.
I have been the babe Moses, laid atop of River Nile.
A divine chest of breath blows me away.
Sisters watch from the reeds, wondering my destiny.
Here I am hidden in glaring sight.
I have been the babe Moses, held by the Egyptian Queen.
I was found, but the staying made me lost.
Pyramid identities slither into my bones.
Here I am hidden in old wineskin.
I have been the boy Moses, bloodstains of ‘calling’ mock me.
My hands are calloused with slavewhip canon.
Burying my sins, but all can see what I have done.
Here I am not hidden, but hiding.
I have been the boy Moses, running far into the wild.
My ears no longer hear the anguished cries.
Like chipping pottery, I strip the glaze of old ways.
Here I am hidden in formless clay.
I have been the boy Moses, hearing burning bushes speak.
I remember lullabies of my land.
But my words, they tangle, and my tongue is like lead.
Here I am hidden in question marks.
I have been the boy Moses, given a pen named Aaron.
I am in the I AM and I must go.
Deaths in freedom are better than decays in slavery.
Here I am hidden in permission.
I have been the man Moses, seeing man plagued in flesh wars.
First fruits, given to man and not God, die.
My bones ache to see this repetition system tumble.
Here I am hidden in remembrance.
I have been the man Moses, sharing stories of free lands.
Wilderness staffs open ancient red paths.
The same breath that blew me to sea blows seas on enemies.
Here I am hidden in peace and hope.
I have been the man Moses, heading home with family.
Dancing in an exodus ecstasy.
With the Promise Land in my pupils, I reach and not faint.
Here I am hidden in assurance.
I have been the man Moses, knowing bones will make it there.
I leave legacy named Milk and Honey.
Watching wonder-whirls turn deserts into highways and blooms.
Here I am hidden in thankfulness.
I am Moses, lifted out of the water.
My name is not Deliverer of Man.
Basket-sent only to return to Father once again.
Here I am hidden in beloved.
Exodus 15:13 reads, “With your unfailing love you lead the people you have redeemed. In your might, you guide them to your sacred home .” His heart is never to birth us into this world in order to make us mighty deliverers, but just to have a son, a daughter, to be His family.
*If you want to indulge more than just one sense, I suggest listening to Divine Liturgy: Anaphora by Choir of the Monks of Chevetogne. Words can only say so much, but words + an image + music can say more.