The bright house

No one knows what the man saw on his way.

Like Abraham, he departed the settled lands of his birth to
Travel an unroaded wilderness.

And suddenly, in that vast emptiness, he came upon an enormous mansion,
Its interior pulsing from a gigantic illumination that blinded his eyes.

He asked whether that house could have no owner, and only then
Did the master reveal himself to claim the house.

And those who follow Abraham, unable to retrace these sacred steps,
ponder the speculations aroused by the vision.

To some, the blazing that poured from the palace’s windows signalled the
Luxuries displayed by a magnificent banquet,
A celebration of bounties for all who dwelled within.
And the man discovered, like Abraham,
That our beautiful world does indeed have an owner.
That its jugglers and tumblers, its delicacies on silver plates,
Its sweet choirs and arias, its pungent libations,
Are credited to someone we can neither see nor touch.

But to others, the light that so shocked the traveler
Was a mighty conflagration that in a moment would consume the palace.
And the appearance of the owner confronted the traveler
To judge his own strength,
His power to save a burning world.

Following a discussion of two such clashing views,
The hall may empty and the janitor dim the lamps.
But why stop with just two of the myriad possibilities burrowed within this story?

Here is a third.
Perhaps the light of this house
Represented the wicks of the faithful,
A million candles lit by scholars
Who spend each night again and again traversing the world’s wisdom.
The truth these men and women find within these holy meditations, and the learning they derive from texts
Suffuse into action the way light pervades the house. These disciples recreate the world from day to day.
Even for outsiders who never peer within the scrolls,
But subsist on the glow from those tapers.

Abraham’s journey to the land where God brought him may be compared to one who was passing from place to place and saw a brightly lit palace. He asked, “Could this palace have no governor?” The governor of the palace answered, “I am the governor of the palace.” (Paraphrase of Genesis Rabbah 39:1)

Andy Oram
June 9, 2015

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