I'm getting ready for bed, and find myselft thinking about Moses.
Today we visited Mt. Nebo, the place where Moses was said to have been told by God that this is where his journey was to end.
It is a pretty spectacular location for this scene in Moses' life.
We arrived on our bus, 25 minutes before the site was to close for the day. 5:35pm. The sun was a firey ball of red overhead, as we walked from the parking lot out onto the high spot above the great Rift Valley, where the dead sea reflected the sunset into the hazy air.
At the viewpoint, we stopped, and gazed outwards. From here I could just make out the Jordan river, a dark gash in the landscape far below. The hazy air kept me from seeing the land below clearly, but the lake, the hills to the West, and spots of land were highlighted. In the foreground, the hills slope downwards and away, a road twisting down into the valley with hairpinned turns. Scattered on the brown slopes are a few spots of green, and, right near where I stood, pine trees filled the view.
David read the passage from Exodus that is the end of Moses story and the beginning of the story where Joshua leads the people into that valley before me. I kept thinking about Moses, looking down, seeing the river, the salty lake, the possibilities, and knowing that his time was now over, gone. Seeing what was to come, knowing he could no longer lead the people. Realizing that it was time for his story to end, and another to begin.
It felt bittersweet. Joanne commented that she thought it was no coincidence that we were on Mt. Sinai for the sunrise, and on Mt. Nebo for the sunset.
It also felt alright.
All of us have our role to play in life, our task to complete. It is a good thing to come to the end of our life and feel that the part set out for us is one we have completed. Not many of us know what will happen after we die, or are able to predict the outcome of 'the rest of the story' which has, until now, been ours, and is now being transferred to the next generation.
Moses had a vantage point for the future. He could see what was ahead in the valley, the river to cross, the town of Jericho which lay on the opposite shore. He could lay his burden down, the burden of leadership, responsibility, planning, strategizing, encouraging, teaching, and always, showing others the way to go. From Mt. Nebo he could look out and see what was ahead, and know his task was done.
Walking away from that view has an emotional thing. The promise ahead is hard to let go of. Moving from living for the future to living in the present is challenging, especially when the present is in the presence of death. Yet every death also holds a new beginning, a promise, and this is what we hold on to. Central to our faith isn’t a task to do or a role to play but a love which never lets us go.