A hundred-twenty years the friend
Of God! Heart flaming to the end.
And in the crystal eyes a fire
From what he’d seen of God’s Desire.
An unabated strength of soul
Had kept his mind and body whole.
O, how he longed to lift his rod
Once more and watch the arm of God
Slice Jordan like a liquid snake
And make the serpent’s tail a lake
And lead the tribes dry through the slice
Back to the promised paradise!
Could God appoint a man to guide
His people while the warriors died,
To stand and suffer their distrust,
And when for golden calves they lust
To intercede with God and spare
For them annihilation there?
Could God assign an athlete this:
To run for others, then to miss
The prize? Would he require a maid
To bring to birth what God had laid
Within her womb and while she smiled
Forbid that she should have the child?
Atop Mount Pisgah Moses sat
And for a moment thought like that.
The Jordan slithered far below
And did its best to overthrow
His faith: “Where has your life been poured?
It doesn’t pay to serve the Lord.
He fills your life with many a hurt
And in the end treats you like dirt.”
Then Moses took up the attack
And all the truth he wrote came back:
“Ah, wicked river, stay your hand
‘Tis you, not God, that stole the land
From my inheritance on earth.
Had I not doubted his grand worth
‘Tis I, not Joshua, who’d break
Your twisted back and gladly make
Your trail a bridge to paradise.
And do you think that your advice
For me has any weight as though
For any real estate I’d throw
Away my God? Think you, O fool,
That all my life’s a vestibule
To that?” And Moses waved his hand
The full length of the promised land.
“Don’t you recall that I have seen
The glory of the Lord? Between
Me and my hope the day I die
Lies not the river but the sky.”
And then, his eyes still crystal bright,
Old Moses vanished in the Light.
God grant that we the same might see
As we light advent candle three.