Friday, March 14, 2014

Lenten Icons: St. Moses the Prophet

"None of the angels, but the dark and fallen one
was willing; took up arms and with deadly intent
approached the one to whom he had been sent.
 But again he rattled away, backwards, and up 
to the heavens he scream: I can't."** 

Moses. The man who talks intimately with God. In a season of intensified prayer, he is our guide. Radiant-faced, argumentative Moses. The friend of God. God has a interesting way of picking friends. He does it as I can only wish to - see and know and love. They are so tender together, these jealous ones - the Lord and His beloved.

In the icon, Moses has such soulful eyes. Holding onto the law he gazes into the bush, as though they are once again caught up in that eternal conversation:

"I walk forever toward you
with a single mind and strong;
for who would I be and who would you
if we didn't get along?"*

I am always almost sad for Moses, who wandered for 40 years in the desert and never touched the promised land, but what would he have done there, settled in the land of milk and honey? His role was to guide the people home; to draw from the wilderness holy wisdom. And I can never quite morn him, whom Death feared to touch. Taken up like Enoch and Elijah to watch and wait for Easter.

"And from this well-ordered house,
he called the soul forth to rise, up! to recount
the many common things of a friendship deeply laid."**

* Rainer Maria Rilke: The Book of Hours
** Rainer Maria Rilke: Moses' Death 

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