Wednesday, May 9, 2018
Call of Abram - Novella
Inside the tent, Sarai's nervous energy kept her pacing around, stirring up a cloud of dust from the dirt floor. She couldn't sit still What in the world was she supposed to say to Abram? After all these years, how do you tell someone something you should have said well before now?
For her, the voice constantly made her smile and even laugh out loud! The voice could be a bit sarcastic even. When Abram's relatives made snide comments like, "Oh, Sarai, what I would give to be like you, my children are such headaches." Their words were like daggers. But the voice would say something about the aunt's nose that made Sarai smile and helped her keep on keeping on. To not have children in her day was not a choice. It was seen as a punishment she bore the blame of alone. The voice reassured her to be patient and persist. But how much longer? Sarai was no longer a young woman. While the ancestors had lived welled passed one hundred, there were others who died suddenly because of an illness. Children were your lasting legacy. Children had the obligation to care for you and carried on after you could no longer. Without that physical presence, the voice tried to help Sarai stay strong.
It's one thing to keep on keeping on when things stay the same. You wake up, you slip on sandals and make your way across the sea of sand to the well. You bring back water, make food, clean up after, tend to the tears in the tent or clothes, care for the animals, make more food, clean up, go get more water, make more food, until the stars start to twinkle their tiny lights over your heads, you share stories around a camp fire until your eye lids grow to heavy, and you fall asleep wrapped in a blanket you know you need to mend tomorrow. The cycle gets stuck on repeat and replays day after day; year after year. There was comfort in the rut, routine. It was like Sarai's well worn sandals, hugging her feet.
The voice sang songs while she washed. The voice offered wisdom when Sarai seemed to need it the most. Of course, she had to listen. Sometimes the voice seemed to be silent or perhaps Sarai was distracted by all the daily tasks. Sometimes days would pile up without hearing the voice. Then, out of the blue, in the middle of making food or especially in the middle of the night when Sarai would stare out into the darkness, the voice would start softly again. No matter how long it had been, the voice was like an old friend. They picked up right where they had left off. Sarai learned that silence was the first language of the voice. Just a presence that she could feel wrapping around her. Sometimes a song that lightened her heart. Sometimes a word from Abram she needed to hear. The voice could shift and take many shapes.
She never said anything about the voice. First, it was hard to describe to others. How do you tell someone in a rational way that you have this running dialogue with a voice that has no body? How do you explain to your mother and father a voice that can warm your soul like the sun warms your skin? Not to say there weren't opportunities. She remembers her mother standing over her yelling, but Sarai had been listening to the voice talk about lush green grass, cool crisp refreshing waters, mountain top vistas surveying miles and valleys where each step seems like a struggle. She was so taken by the song, that she had missed her mother's voice. And her mother was not exactly happy about Sarai's less than prompt response to her request. But what was Sarai supposed to say, "Oh sorry mom, this voice you cannot hear was telling me about the beauty of creation." Sarai might as well tell her mom their goat was about to do a dance; which Sarai was sure would cause less concern.
So Sarai kept the voice to herself. She didn't even tell Abram. Again, not that there weren't moments when her heart surged and she felt the words on the tip of her tongue. Especially at night when Abram was tossing and turning, she would take his hand into her own, feeling an energy between their fingers that seemed to calm them both. But words seemed to all evaporate or escape before she could speak them.
So, she kept this voice, pondered all the love it sang and spoke of in her heart. But now, now the voice was saying she and Abram had to go. This wasn't the way the world worked. Women didn't decide what the family should do. If they were going to leave, it would be Abram who would say so. And the chances of that were less than the whole goat dance happening. You didn't leave your kin. You don't set out toward the far horizon where your whole life dangers and fears seem to reside. You stay put. You don't jump, you dig deep into what was known, even when if was too tattered or shattered. Why this was, Sarai always wondered, but could never bring herself to talk about it with anyone. No one else seemed to question the way of life. This made Sarai certain that she was the only one who could hear the voice.
But here she was. The voice clear, "Go." Sarai had wanted to argue or ask for more details, but she was too stunned. Her mind raced and reeled as reason began a list of why she had to stay. The voice did say Abram should go too. This helped. When you have lived with someone for so long the sound of their chewing is actually comfortable, you know that to be apart can be unbearable. Plus, to go beyond what was known without someone else to travel alongside seemed not only foolish but dangerous. Humans were not meant to go alone. Not that you needed a spouse. Sarai knew others who walked the world as friends, whose emotional support was a source of strength. But to have someone who tells you stories that make you laugh, who wraps an arm around you when tears won't stop flowing, to just be with, was a blessing.
She could hear Abram rustling outside the tent, probably putting away his staff and tying up the flock. "Come on, voice," Sarai insisted, persisted, "Now would be a great time to give me the words I need." Silence. Like the voice had already left the room, heading out in the direction beckoning her to come along. Sarai saw the tent flap flip back. Fear causing her heart to race. Some how she was able, perhaps by accident, to meet Abram's eyes. She saw something there she had never seen before. Something was stirring. In that moment, before her mind could offer an objection, she looked at her husband...the one she loved...the one she would go to the end of the world and back...the one who knew her better than any one else. Through the dry mouth, she uttered the words, "The voice."