• Ancient Paths

Absent

by Rachel Hayes

Gradually we forgot it all: the Land Beyond the River, the sun stroking gentle Jordan’s forehead, the well-making reflection of Beer Lahai Roi hovering sparkle and shadow over sovereign seas. With time we captives assimilated; with time our homeland’s memory faded.

Esther never saw our Israel. Barely belonging to any people: orphan stranger to our race with punctual face plucked out of her place for such a time as this. A queen without power, a harem slave in a tower. Red-perking life tympanic beat around her but she never heard its babble. When Haman demanded Jewish blood Esther was as deaf to our wail as He who sanguinated the Nile: Jacob’s angel, Moses’ friend, He who walked in the Garden in the cool of evening. Where was his appled Eye on the eve of our destruction? God’s name absent from Esther’s writ. Not a silver-lined sliver of cloud to herald his glorious coming. Queen Esther was told and intervened — but where was the Savior, the king of all the kings? No whisper of him in the place not our home. When we left the Land of Promise did He who promised leave us alone? Not a sight or a sigh to show him near yet despite our fear Haman was hanged, the people saved by a slave queen who prayed. Not a sign but a scent of Him, a fragrance in a deaf numb land. Not seeing him or hearing him or feeling his burning stare, but a surrounding, a suggesting, a subtlety whispering to all un-harped wanderers that Lo! he is still there.