From his window he could see the joy in the eyes of both women- he could not make out what they were talking about but they seemed content with each other. His wife the older one of the two had found a rare friend in the younger woman; it made him happy to see that she was beginning to burst with joy again. She had been through a lot over the years and he felt incapable of giving her any joy, incapable of giving her the one thing she hungered for… incapable of giving her back her youth that he stole… worse, he was incapable of giving a tangible reason for where they were in their journey… Oh but didn’t he love her?
“I never get his jokes aunty… I feel so confused I begin to laugh” the younger woman said as she shook her head never taking her eyes off the vegetables she was cutting. “Why should I date a man I do not get his jokes?” she continued… “These things just get so tricky…. I wish I could merge his brain with Cheche’s humour” she concluded as she turned to face the older woman who was smiling from ear to ear… “I know… I know… right time, right person… That’s what you’ll tell me I know” she continued. The older woman gave a huge laugh as she patted her back lovingly… Though, the girl had a completely different past from hers, she reminded her so much of herself when she was younger; she had been a beauty to look at on the outside but beyond that she was adorned with a strength that was ageless, she had that rare capacity to see life in the many colours that it truly was and she was that girl that had a way with everyone… Everyone including her father who had called her Princess the moment he set his eyes on her, her father who she would never see again, her father who never understood why she chose the man she deeply loved. The man she blindly followed.
He was unusual. But sweet. Slightly ordinary but they had always been such good friends and she deeply believed there was more to his thin frail frame, a confidence behind his timidity, a truth in his eyes when he told her about his faith; she knew that he was nothing like the rest of all of them and she recognized deep down that to him and him alone she belonged. So she chose him too. But her happily-ever-after did not come in the manner she expected. Although she acknowledged he loved her unconditionally he sometimes had challenges expressing it not because he was like every typical man but because he was finding himself still… He was hot sometimes, cold sometimes but most times he was just warm. Warm until the day he told her of his plan to relocate. He was jittery, pensive but certain it was the right move for them. “I want to stay right here in our home and have a baby for you” she had argued. With everything she had been going through trying to conceive she could not believe he dared ask them to move. “To where?” she screamed at him hot tears rolling down her cheeks… What was she thinking when she married the certified weirdo? “Trust me” he had said holding her close, looking straight into her brown eyes “Please trust me”. There he was, the man she had fallen in love with his eyes holding enough strength right when she needed it. “I promise we’ll have a baby for every second I have seen you look as beautiful as you do right now” he teased as he held her closer. Grinning ear to ear she knew she would go anywhere he went… she got this man’s jokes!
“Do you get my husband’s jokes?” she asked quietly. Puzzled, the younger woman looked at the woman who had taken her out of the field where she had toiled with the other hands into her home, treated her like she would a younger sister, molded her into the woman that she had become. “Ma?” she stuttered tearing her eyes away from the one person who had taken time to know what they held, the person who chose her despite who she was, the person who looked beyond the shackles the world had bridled her with. The one person she secretly called mother. “Do you get my husband’s jokes?” she said more confidently looking straight at her “I….” coughs… “I think you being here, being with my husband and I has been an absolute blessing and I am beginning to think maybe God brought you here for a bigger purpose. You, like no one else fit into our family, you understand our faith, you are a part of us”
“I want you to have a baby for us… For me”
Confusion, panic, disgust all set in at the same time “I won’t… I can’t aunty” “I can’t ma’am” she whimpered as she ran out the door into the hot embrace of the afternoon. Just when she was beginning to live again she had to be reminded that she was not free after all she was born in shackles and in shackles she would remain.
“Was this your plan God?”
“Was this your plan; that I would think I had hope only to go back to the dirt I came from?”
He was still sitting by his window when his wife walked in… Her black glowing hair now had streaks of grey in them, her once firm skin were beginning to show folds but her eyes… those eyes were just the same… determined and confident slightly stubborn; even though she did not say anything, her eyes convicted him of many crimes “you promised and failed” they said. He stretched forth his hands to pull her close to him “I was watching you two talk from here… It felt beautiful, seeing you come alive again… I love how you chose to bring her in… she’s been here for a good number of years right?”
“I asked her to have our baby” she replied with a flat tone
Pulling away from her he began to laugh, he laughed so hard until slowly he began to sober up; pain and rage taking over his entirety. He stood with his hands in his pocket staring at her in disbelief.
“Sarai” he commanded
“I asked her to have our baby” she repeated calmly; unperturbed by his demeanor.
Moving towards him quietly, never taking her eyes off his… “My love, you know deep down that it is impossible for me to have our babies”
“You know… so don’t pretend that you still believe”
“We have waited, we have prayed, we have cried and Lord knows even this step is one of faith” she said
“This is not faith Sarai, this is unbelief!” he barked back
The warmth in her eyes gave way to deep seated anger “Yea? Unbelief when it is convenient for you to say… What were you thinking the night you cowardly left me to be with that barbaric King… was that faith? You have no right to preach to me Abram no right!”
“Do you even hear this God?” she screamed.
“Do you even know this your God?”
They were back there again. To the time he had failed her, the time he had chosen his life over their love, the time all the words he had ever said to her were burnt on the altar of faintheartedness. In one moment he had told her they would raise nations and in the next, he had allowed her to be taken as a concubine for a barbarian… His queen a sex slave. He could never forget the betrayal her eyes held that night; but she was right, if he had truly heard God, why did he give her up? If he had believed the words God said to him should he not have fought for her? “Sarai, I was weak, I was scared but I have no excuse, I have no excuse. When will you truly forgive me? I wish I could undo those events but I cannot Sarai, I cannot… but one thing I am certain of is that God promised… Sarai God promised and he will come through”
Sarai recognized the faint lack of conviction in his words, she could sense his feeling of inadequacy so she knelt down burying her face into the scars on his belly- scars he had sustained from an accident as a younger man “My Lord” she pleaded…. “Didn’t God promise to make you a great nation” “He mentioned you Abram- not us”
“Take her my love”
Months later, the protruding tummy of the girl hunted her. Although she had longed for a child, she had silently hoped that Hagar would not have conceived either, she had silently hoped to have a confirmation that she was not the only problem they had but the rounder figure on Hagar mocked her, they teased her, they ridiculed everything she stood for. Anger welled up in her, sorrow ate her from her insides, until one day, the turmoil inside of her pushed her to send the girl away. Maybe then, she would find some peace she thought; but even peace scorned her.
“Abram” she cried “Why does God hate me so? Why didn’t he answer me when I called, why would he mock me like this”
“Oh why would you mock me like this? Is this the love you vowed? You took me out of everything I could recognize to nowhere and now you are having a baby by another woman… my servant… Even if I tempted you could you not resist? How long have you been looking at her before I suggested Abram, how long?”
Abram, tired and confused looked at what was becoming of the woman he loved, she was bordering on insanity, her eyes were tainted with pain and weakness, depression had made many houses inside of her; he could not even find any window of hope. He sat down on the floor looking at her as she went on… and on… until she quieted in a corner.
“Lord find her where she is and heal her” He prayed with everything inside of him. “I have not been the man I should have been, I have failed her over and over, heck Lord, I have failed you but I know you hear me… Deep in me I know you are… I have seen you, I have heard you…I never needed you more than I do now, please heal her… heal us”
“Let me be strong for you… you don’t have to do anything… just let me be here for you” his eyes pleaded.
Over the next few months Sarai began to make peace with herself; her scars slowly healed, the relics of her choices however would remain with her for the rest of her life. Hagar came back home with a quiet resolve to pull through the next few months of her life; her one encounter with God was enough to see her through the dark days ahead and the feel of her baby kicking inside her filled her with a calming sense of hope. Abram spent his time seeking God out again… He had lost his way… if only God would speak to him one more time!
On the day his son would be born, he had remained in his room all day looking out his window as he loved to; Sarai had brought the boy to him swaddled in the white cloth she had spent the last few days knitting for him.
“He is the most beautiful thing I have seen” she said placing him in his hands and giving him a light kiss.
“Thank You Sarai” he replied looking her in the eyes “I don’t know what else to say or do… it is all confusing but you are right, he is a stunner” He smiled. He felt he could see traces of himself in the little human, his slightly pointed nose, definitely his forehead and oh he had tiny freckles on his left forearm too! An absolute stunner he agreed.
“First father duties would be to name him my Lord and you must go see Hagar immediately- she was a strong woman in there”.
“Ishmael” “His name is Ishmael” he repeated handing him over to his woman.
“Thank you” he whispered holding her gaze. “I love you… Sarai I absolutely do”
It was the 24th year after he had heeded God’s call to move and 13 years since the birth of his son; that evening once again HE graced him with a visit. Oh the presence he had longed for year upon year, his unmistakable voice, his magnificent aura! In that moment, nothing else mattered; not the ups and downs the last few years had been about, not the nagging pain Ishmael’s personality wrought on him and his name, it didn’t matter in that moment, the frail nature of his wife and her periodic bursts of sarcasm, it didn’t matter that he was far from being deserving of this grace- but that moment was everything he had longed for, everything he had waited for and he worshiped this immortal being from deep within him. He worshiped with everything he had; this time when HE spoke, HE did not ask him to move like HE did 24 years ago, this time HE asked him to stand still.
“Wait” he had said
“Wait Abraham you and your wife Sarah… Wait and see me do”
“Sarah?” she repeated mockingly…. “A change of name at a few weeks to 90? One would think I would be used to you by now but you never cease to amaze me” Sarai retorted when Abram had told her of his last encounter. She completely ignored his mention of her having a child, she didn’t even give the thought a chance to live until the day she overheard one of their visitors mention the same joke to Abraham as he now called himself; this time, she couldn’t help but laugh…
“Something funny?” The stranger said smiling at her
“No… No Sir” she mumbled but “Yes… Yes there is something in your eyes” she thought
“You know I can” he said with those fiery eyes
“Oh my Lord but I am dry” she thought gazing at him
“Dry enough to catch fire?” his smile curved into a bigger arc
“I’m old” she argued
“Old enough to have gotten to the end of yourself”
“We are not even… We do not have the strength for this” she resigned
“But I am your strength”
“I have an answer for every excuse… I know you better that you know yourself Sarah”
“Sarah?” she stared in shock
“Yes Sarah I named you… I called you… I chose you”
A sense of knowing enveloped her. Her eyes finally saw God and she knew she would never be the same again.
The day their son was made, she knew.
He was literally a product of jokes and laughter; but more he was a product of grace filled faith. There they were 99 and 89 basking in the euphoria of seeing God together; Abraham more secure in the man he had become looked at Sarah’s eyes as he had always done they had changed again, her youthful glow shone through her wrinkled skin, she was no longer struggling, she was no longer chasing… her real thirst had been satiated… nothing in the world could be more important than the few minutes she saw God… not even the child they made that seemingly banal evening.
Photo Credit: LittleHouseOnTheValley.com