I turned for one more look at Great Uncle Abraham’s delegation. Although Uncle Abraham had no children at that time, Father, I mean Lot, had me. As I paused to shake the rocks from my sandals a vulture circled overhead. For a moment my imagination flew on his wings, through the dust clouds I saw herds, livestock, women, servants as we parted ways. As I stared backward, I wished in my heart I could go with Uncle Abraham. Aunt Sarah would have loved to have a little girl.
I remembered that day I spotted one of our sheep wandering off. At first I thought the little lamb was a mile away. The lay of the land fooled me. She was much farther than I thought. When I finally reached her I realized it was Lamby that was mingling with Uncle Abraham’s flocks.
“What are Lot’s sheep doing here?” the shepherds shouted. “Get this black sheep out of here! This land can hardly support our own herds and flocks!”
I didn’t mean to start quarreling. I ran up waving my hands, trying to explain, but that only made things worse, their sheep scattered. I was so upset I didn’t even notice who was casting a shadow over me until he spoke. “Let’s not have quarrelling, Lot is my relative.”
Uncle Abraham bent down and nestled my little dark lamb in his cloak, enfolding me under his other arm. Aunt Sarah heard us coming and lifted the flap of the tent hustling me in. She hugged me then left, returning with figs and a skin of milk for Lamby.
As I savored each luscious fig, cuddling Lamby in my arms I watched the fabric walls of the tent heave in and out in the hot winds, not unlike my little lamb’s mother when she gave birth. Her mother hadn’t made it.
I rubbed Lamby’s throat, coaxing her to drink from the crude nipple I made. The cream slobbered from her hungry mouth as she suckled and slurped.
I drank in the sweet harmony of my Aunt and Uncle’s mingling laughter as they shared funny stories about my Father’s childhood. This was not like my home. They delighted in me, doting on my shiny black eyes, my silky hair, black as Lamby’s wool. Their lack of children only sweetened my visit. “Come back again” they said, as Lamby and I wandered back to our camp.
I was twelve when the Kings exiled us to Damascus. “Now, tuck your hair into your robe like me, and maybe they won’t notice us” I whispered to my sister. We stayed close to one another, as we did in Sodom, trying to preserve what little innocence we still had. By that age our eyes were anything but naive, long since jaded by the unsightly carousing we passed by every day in the streets.
At first Father tried to protect us, and even talked about leaving, but we slowly came to accept things. “After all,” mother would say, “there are benefits for a city official’s family that you would never have living in the country.” Then Father would warn us sharply to “keep your faith to yourselves! What they do is their business.”
But when there is no social action, no witness, faith withers, making room for other things to grow in the soil of the heart.
Uncle Abraham rescued us twice; once when his valiant army set us free from the Kings, and once again, when he sent the angels to rescue us from Sodom.
By that time Father had lost all moral authority. Our fiancé’s laughed when he warned them.
I still remember the grip of the angels as they pulled us from our homes. It was a grip of grace.
We fled to Zoar, living there for a time, but Father grew fearful and moved us up into the mountains far away.
I could not look upon my Father’s face that night I went into his tent. It was my sister’s idea. This was nothing compared to what we saw in the streets every day in Sodom.
Every time I see my Father’s face in my son I repent.
I learned from Mother that horrifying day she turned to salt. I also learned from my father that silence and inaction in the face of wickedness exact a high price. As I sit among Uncle Abraham’s tents once again, I rest under grace, but I cannot silence the thoughts of what could have been.
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