What came into existence was Life, and the Life was Light to live by. The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness; the darkness could not put it out. (John 1:4-5 The Message)
As often as he could,
Y’shua stole away with a piece of bread,
a lump of cheese, a salted fish in his pocket,
a flask of water, or new wine in season,
to walk the hills above the village.
The shepherds saw him,
for he took the sheep trails at first,
tracing the familiar paths of his boyhood,
but he soon outdistanced the widest ranging flocks,
pushing right out into the edges of the back beyond
where no one but an occasional hunter went,
(or a boy seeking the fate of a lost lamb)
where eagles nested, where once, even in David’s time,
lions laired, where snakes warmed themselves
in the sun on rock ledges in the morning cool,
and scorpions infested dark cracks in the heat of noon—
where the wind out of the wilderness came untamed,
untainted by the habits and habitations of man
and spoke in simple words of one syllable to his heart.
In the morning he would sit bareheaded and
bold as any snake on a ridge line and drink the sun.
At noon he would find a narrow canyon,
a cut in the stone of the hills,
and a tree whose roots reached down
to drink the stream that ran beneath the sand
and he would sit like one of the prophets of old
waiting for the voice of God.
Did he hear it in the ant that climbed his feet?
In the domestic twitter of the birds
that nested in the branches overhead?
In the way the wind scoured and shaped the living rock,
whispering mysteries too deep for human tongue?
He would dig down under the sand
until he felt the water under his hands,
bless his lips with the vital moisture,
kiss a stone, and the overwhelming
love of the creator of all would wash through him,
would reach out in his own hand to touch the weathered
and wise trunk of the tree behind him,
to trace the edge of a leaf,
to explore the tender edges of his
soul where it unfolded within him,
to test his mind, to temper his heart…
There were tears, the salt of his humanity
to mingle with the hidden waters of the stream.
There was joy to ride the eagle’s cry,
to split the sky
and draw the voices out of stone.
He felt himself turned inside out,
the naked nerves exposed in a harsh world,
defenseless in the loving hand of his Father God,
where every breath shivered him to his core,
and he was glad.
Coming home at sundown he
would pause on the last ridge above
the town and look down to all
he had known and loved.
He would sit, sometimes, for hours more
as the sky faded and the dark rose up
out of the ground, as the stars gathered themselves,
one by one, in the sky, and, in the full dark,
he would pour himself down the slope,
a smoke of love to find and wind itself
around every heart below so that
they sang to answer the stars above…
until he himself was utterly empty.
He would have had to step right outside himself to see how,
in the spirit, he blazed there on the ridge,
brighter than any star, bright as only the sun itself,
turning spiritual night into day around him,
pushing the dawn ahead with every step he took,
with every breath he drew,
whether the world was ready for it or not.
Who knows…if he could have seen
the forces of the night arrayed against him,
willing his death, willing his failure,
would he have had the courage
to go on breathing, being,
walking into his own future?
Or would he too have known,
would he have been given the grace to know,
even then, that there was no power in heaven,
or on earth, that could hold back this dawn.