"Part of me feels special. More special than I could ever believe. I was sure as the sun I did not deserve the Egyptian whip, but this..."
"I feel it too," I replied. We squatted on a Hebrew blanket in the early evening not far from the holy Tabernacle. We were as moths to a flame, drawn to its presence, feeding us, giving us purpose. We need only let it fill us up. For most, that was difficult. Some had false pride, not wanting to admit their empty lives up this point. Others felt fear, of being lead down a path whose destination they did not know. And some wished to be the God who resided in the tent. Weakness was in the air.
"We live in a time of whispered dreams. You can hear it in the desert wind. There is so much we do not know. I feel we live on the edge of something...something great and beyond our understanding. Are we the first to live here?"
"No. I feel it too, like heat of the day, it's undeniable. The past is lingering but we can't see it. But with everything that has happened, the miracles that set us free, the past fades away. We have to move forward."
"Forward, yes! But to where?"
"To someplace good. To someplace safe. To home."
"I wish that to be! I wish it to be with all my heart! But we live in lands of war. We must conquer or be conquered. Who can escape that? I am not a man who finds home in battle. Make of that what you will."
I smiled. "I don't know when the truth will be, but I do know every man wishes to be ruled by gentleness. It's like watching water slide down a hole, it's futile to resist. These thoughts have been hidden inside, but in the presence of this God, it's as if roaring water flows through me. I cannot fully describe it, there's no word for it."
"I have dreams every night. I look into a garden so vast and lush the end is beyond the horizon. I cry because I am unable to step into it. But I do not know why, I just know I can't. This is madness! Can you tell me what it means?"
"No, the fire enflames us all. But in different ways, it seems. Look in their eyes. I've been afraid to say anything and little has anyone else spoken, but you can see the stars in our eyes. I sense we are a part of the past and part of the future forever. Is this the dawn of a new time we live in? I want to believe it so badly!"
"Moses believes it."
"Yes, Moses believes it!" Then we both laughed. Moses was a man without doubt. We envied him while dreading to be him. He had far more guts than any of us to face this new God. Or is this God new? It's more like an awakening, this. Yes. This isn't new. Just drawn out into the open. Damn, I'm excited!
"It's easy to follow Moses. He's so certain. He fills the gaps of doubt. Part of me wishes to be one with the high priests who enter the Tabernacle. But I just can't do it. I tremble and stop. My limbs cannot move, like unseen ropes are holding me in place."
"I'm no hero of this new time, either. What's worse, I know it's good and right to enter, yet still I hesitate. Like I'm content to know it in my mind so I do not face it in life. What kind of man does that make me? I'm plagued with questions but I feel more alive than ever!"
"That's all of us. This questioning can drive you mad. Life was simple before. I never want to go back to it, but our freedom has had a price. We are a changed people. Our path in history is forever altered. My dreams are filled with streets of blood and mountains of peace. How can we suffer both fates? Maybe, it's..."
We looked at each other in caution. He'd nearly said what's on everyone's mind. All along we've been engaging in a conspiracy of silence. On one hand we gaped and cheered in awe at the marvelous events that set us free. On the other hand, we wonder what terrible power have we unleashed. Is this a gift? To mistreat a gift is the worst betrayal. We know this heavily in our hearts. This idea of sin, it is hard to bear. "You are like strange beasts!" a passing Bedouin cursed at us. Yes, we have changed.
"Moses has been gone too long. I was afraid that would happen. He's the cord that ties us together. I don't know about me, but I do know about him."
"There's talk of making a golden idol. A god for us, not just for Moses. Moses talks of needing no money. He says if we just do what we want everything will work out. We can live in complete freedom. How can that be? How can life be that good? We've never been allowed to do what we want! Anyone who did what he wanted before was killed by the Egyptians."
"He asks a lot, I know. I too wonder what this God will think of me. Will He have a use for even my life? Maybe I only deserve to worship a golden idol made from our hands. You hear their angry voices over there, those men who are jealous of the new God. It's hard to resist their words."
"Maybe we should be smart and give to both. What can it hurt? Besides, the others will be angry with us if we don't join in. The only place we'll be safe from them is in the Tabernacle. And God knows I'm not going in there."
"Me neither," I sighed in resignation. Yup, really am unworthy. We got up and brushed off our clothing, making our way to the center of the idol making. As we got further and further away from the tabernacle, our hearts wordlessly sank. How obvious we are wrong! Still, we marched forward like stupid cattle to be slaughtered. In wicked irony, if one hesitated he felt he betrayed the other. We feared to betray our betrayal! Finally, I had to say something though it did not alter our course.
"You know, I know we're being smart and everything, but this just feels so incredibly...stupid."