Salvation takes risks.
Miriam had learned that the day she built Moseh his very own ark and send him down river, whispering prayers to God. God had favoured her then, and the Princess too: ‘Shall I get you a nursemaid for you? Can we help you raise your new son?’ The princess had arched her brow and looked straight into Miriam’s heart and said, ‘yes: bring him a nursemaid.’
And so it began: the years at the palace. Miriam watched the Pharaoh’s daughters as carefully as she watched the dragonflies. She leaned when to laugh and when to remain silent; when to fuss over them, and when to disappear. Miriam wrapped herself in deference as a cloak, and tossed it off again just as soon as she could.
Once Mosheh grew, Miriam left. She preferred freedom to palaces, and the wild God of the reedbed to the Pharoah’s restraining ways. Her brother might seem to be the princess’ son, but she knew better — and she would make sure he knew better too.
Salvation took risks. So Miriam waited as Mosheh grew.
Finally, the day came. She saw Mosheh walking by the river alone and she ran after him. It had been years since they’d met this way — and she greeted him with the memories ofchildhood.
‘Look Mosheh! God comes to his people. Look, Mosheh! The reeds burn gold!’
Mosheh spun at her words, caught between delight and confusion. He was never sure how to read her — was she mocking him, or praising him? Inviting him to share her joy, or chastising him for not being there more often? Still he was glad for her. Miriam: mistress of dragonflies, watcher of radiance. Sister and wisdom and friend.
‘And what do you see today, sister? What has God been showing you now?’
‘Come with me.’
This was an old game. She’d lead him through the reed bed, down paths only she knew. She would show him a deer, a fish, a nest of fragile eggs. But today, she surprised him. She hitched her skirts and ran away from the river. Back to the town, down through the streets, further and further from the palace to places he had never seen.
‘Miriam, wait!’ but he could never catch her. She was wild and he was used to comfort. ‘Where are we going, sister? What have you seen?’
To see our people, she whispered. To show you our God. But he could not hear.
She ran and ran till the streets were no more. She ran through the wastelands to the very crest of the hill. And there she waited for Mosheh to reach her. For Moseh to see what she saw.
Mosheh had heard of the brick-makers, of course. He knew that it was what his people did. But he had not known what that meant till he stood beside his sister and watched men binding mud with tears; men building bricks with blood.
They stood for a long time watching. The labour, the cruelty, the despair. Hundreds of men being broken; thousands of bricks in the sun.
‘Look, Mosheh. God comes to his people. Look Mosheh. The reeds burn gold.’