He was alone.
I mean, he was surrounded by colleagues and dependents, allies and offspring. But up before dawn, he was alone.
David was in the desert. His to-do list today, like every day, was simple. Six important things.
- find water
- avoid Saul
- find food
- avoid Saul
- find grass for flocks
- avoid Saul.
If he did all six, he and his fighters and his family and their families got to stay alive. If he missed something? He didn’t think about that much. Like leaders for millennia, the time alone before sunrise, before people-rise demanded concentration and focus.
He stared into the dimness and started whispering a prayer. He’d been working on it for awhile, sorting through words and memories. The polishing made it memorable, the tension of the morning made it real.
“You, God, are my God.
And I am looking for you everywhere.
I want you, a sign, a shooting star, anything refreshing
so much I can taste it.
I would love an angel like Jacob got
to wrestle with, to hang on to.
And I sit here, alone, as dried out as the brown bits of grass
that even hungry sheep ignore.
I remember meeting you in better times,
in the tabernacle with all the incense and music,
everyone smiling, safe.
God, I miss that.
But tabernacle or faded tents,
incense or dry night air
Your love at the edges of life is better than life at the edges of your love.
This day may be my last one,
but I will keep singing with my dying breath.
In ways that no one else understands,
that I can’t even explain,
you are my food.
There is no way I should be calm enough to sleep
But somehow you still my thoughts.,
I’ll let you take care of my enemies
I’ll take care of my people.
All the way to the end.”
“It still needs some help,” he thought, “but God help me, I’ll keep working on it. And trying to believe it.” The camp started to stir. He stood up.
Time to look for water.
First published September 27, 2013