from ASH by Tobin James Mueller
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Abraham and Isaac
How can it be put in perspective?
There is no true congruency between one moment and any other shape.
It stands alone.
Imagine the moment when Abraham,
still breathless from his sudden experience of promise fulfilled,
still hoarse from giving thanks,
still filled with the sight of his newborn son raised
on joyous hands above the altar of faith,
heard the Voice returned to speak a new command:
Take your son, your only son Isaac,
whom you love,
and go to the land of Moriah, and give him up
as a burnt offering…
Mute. The man who argued with his God so freely,
and who had praised Him so freely,
could not speak from within this new bondage.
Spent. The man who had lived his life seeking but a single promise
of being father to a son
could not resist this command.
We cannot grasp it.
The lifeless motions.
But the image before the boy’s wide eyes,
that is another matter.
Isaac, with the memory of the dagger descending,
could never overcome this moment.
The shapes will always be too clear.
The boy, although later made a wealthy man by the standards of the City,
aged prematurely and was always ill, never able to share
in the happy promise
he, himself, symbolized.
He was: Never more than a sacrifice.
He had not glimpsed the angel
holding back his father’s hand.
He was never able to tear himself from that ash-strewn altar
tucked away in the shadow of the
Tree of Life.
text © 2004 Tobin James Mueller