The heat shimmered and danced on the horizon.
Abraham closed his eyes to its glare, and let the deep silence of the desert enfold him. The soft sand in the shadow of his tent cradled his bones in its warmth, allowing him to sit. Others slumbered in the heat of the day, but despite his years, Abraham resisted the soporific lure. In the stillness he was intently present, the practice of decades. Waiting, watching.
The day was ordinary, like the one before, and the ones before that. Fourteen long years had passed since God had promised to answer the deepest desire of his heart.
He only wanted a son, flesh of their flesh, bone of their bone, but God had promised him descendants like the panoply of stars above his head, the sand beneath his feet.
The years rolled by, and his body and spirit wilted in the waiting.
Abraham had held the promise in his heart. Turning it over, like a well worn stone.
Three months previously God had spoken again into the depths of his longing.
Underlined the promise with a change of names, of identity. Writing the H of the name of God into his and hers. A laughable promise of sons, of nations, of kings.
The covenant seared into the tenderness of heart and flesh.
The silence was fathomless.
The faintest breath of wind on his face. An infinitesimal change in the quality of the light. A feather touch of intuition across his skin. Abraham opened his eyes and lifted his gaze. Three silhouettes of strangers splintered the glare. His heart knew, even as his legs pulled him to his feet faster than they had for 30 years. He was running, heart pounding, awe pulsing through his veins.
Down. On his face before them. The only possible posture of greeting. Instinctive, and nstant as he stopped before the long reach of their shadow.
He daren’t look up.
Saw only dry and dusty feet. Still walking. Appearing to be going further.
Willing them to stay, heart in his mouth, he gestured to the deep shade of the ancient Terebinth Trees. Green-leaved even in the sapping drought, their deep roots reaching for artesian springs.
The words tumbled out, urgent, pleading.
“Adoni, If I have found grace in your sight, please stay awhile. Rest yourselves against the tree and I will have water brought to wash your feet. Bread to sustain and refresh you and then I will not detain you further since you have come and honoured me with your Presence.”
He looked at his hands, the ground, anywhere but up. The three sets of feet were still. It could only have been moments, but it felt like hours. Hope thrumming in his ears as he waited, Would God receive his hospitality?
The reply was gentle, grace-filled.
“Go and do as you have promised”