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Holy Fire

Moses called out the ewe's name,
thinking how strange the sound of his own voice felt
echoing back into his searching ears.
No wind. No distant noises from the valley. Only his one voice,
heightened in this strange solitude.

A wayward sheep had bolted from the herd,
and in order to find the one, he left the many behind.

There was a narrowing fissure, cut through a mask of rock
by an urge of ancient waters at the birth of the species,
and Moses leaned in, listening.
Some trick of nature, he thought, or trick of mind,
but a whispered voice touched his ear and,
wanting to find the source, he entered.

Both sides of the fissure pressed against him and he
could no longer bend to see his own feet or be certain
of his safety.

In a sudden coolness, his own breath billowed out,
forming clouds of life in the still air.

The end of this passage opened
onto an unexpected ledge with
all the world behind, and
at the edge of the precipice, roots in bare rock,
a flowering bush grew,
framed in a halo of flame.
And to his nostrils came the sweetest of scents.

"i am who am" whispered in his ears,
and he knew it was his God.
Moses fell to his knees, removing his sandals,
wanting nothing
to come between himself and this holy ground.
The cool air, pressing against his skin, made him aware
of the heat pouring from his body,
and he wondered if he, too, was on fire.
"i am who am" whispered again
as a hundred suns seemed to rise out of each opening petal.

(It was only afterward,
when recounting the scene in his mind,
that he questioned how the bush could have been
animated by fire, yet remain whole:
The fire that lights but does not consume.
Only afterward did he come to understand.)

"chosen, you are, to know this light;
to know this intent of being,"
continued the voice of miracles.
"this brotherhood, this i in you, this you in i,
extends beyond the ledge of humanity.
it beckons: set life free.
set life free."

(It was only afterward,
when repeating the words in his heart,
that he could unravel this riddle of freedom and being,
this whisper of love.
Only afterward could he translate the words
into his own life.)

In the fingers of flame he saw a vision of the future:
Himself...carving from the mask of rock a new law;
then, after lifting the chiseled tablet with great effort, throwing it down
again in disappointment. The voice offered an alternative:

"instead," he listened, "let your self be worked and carved;
know the i am in your soul of souls.
what you seek, this deliverer, is the i am

Just then the wayward lamb bleated.

Moses lurched to the cliff's edge, without thought,
and gathered the ewe into his arms, cradling her.
Tears streamed down his face, tapping silently
on the bare rock below,
as Moses comforted the lamb, saying,
"You are not alone."

Holy Fire © 2000 by Tobin James Mueller
"Ash" published by ArtsForge Press.
All rights reserved.