“Momma”, his voice cries out. This is now the only word he can summon from his mouth, baked dry by the scorching heat from the sun.
Each step I take tears my heart into a million pieces. Nothing can drown out the distant cries of his voice. Finally, when I can go no further, I fall to my knees, exhausted and wondering how everything in my life could turn so horribly wrong.
Earlier that morning, we were cast out from the camp by my husband and given only bread and water provisions. There were few words spoken between us. As he places the water and bread on my shoulder, he says,
“You must leave.”
Confused, I manage to ask, “Why? What have I done?”
“Just go, please, just leave.”
I plead with him, “Whatever it is that I’ve done to offend you my lord, I am truly sorry. It will never happen again.”
My words cannot be heard. I am again cut off from family and told to leave.
My son asks, "Where are we going Momma?"
I have no words to answer him.
We walk and walk until we find ourselves wandering and lost in the desert. When the last of the water is gone, I realize that it would be here, in this desert that both, my son and I would die.
"Sit here under this bush while I go find us some water."
My words sound reassuring to him, but to me they sound hollow and empty.
Where will I find water in a desert? Is this how our life is to end?
“Momma”, his weary voice calls out to me.
I walk further away until I feel safe to speak, hoping he won’t hear me.
“Do not let me see the boy die.”
My voice is weak and tired, my words, spoken to no one in particular are those of a humbled woman who can now see death approaching. I was far enough away that the sadness and sorrow welling inside my eyes unleashes my heartbroken and bitter tears, my voice cries out in anguish.
My thoughts are scattered. I remember how my son and I mocked my husband’s first wife but the heat from the scorching sun replaces that thought with the reality of abandonment. I no longer saw myself as a slave but I was once again all alone. All my life it seems no one wanted me. Growing up in Egypt, I discovered early in life that being a girl gave little value to my family; particularly my father.
My father always called me a stranger, as though he didn’t know me. At times, he would even say,
“I do not know you girl!”
It was my own father who sold me into slavery.
Suddenly, I hear that voice again.
“What’s the matter with you Hagar?”
I wonder if my mind is playing tricks on me.
Again, the voice speaks to me:
“Do not fear, for God has heard the voice of the lad where he is.
Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him by the hand; for I will make a great nation of him.”
I can see what looks like a well, not very far away from where I stand. To my surprise, it is indeed a well, springing with fresh water! I bend down to fill the skin with water and begin to smile. The thoughts of abandonment fade from my mind now as I watch my son lift the skin to his mouth and drink.
I realize that I did nothing nor did I offer any appreciation to El Roi. This is the second time He has spoken to me. I wonder why He shows compassion to me Who am I that He would show concern?
I call Him, "El Roi", The One Who Sees Me.
I asked myself, why would this El Roi speak to a slave girl? Who am I that should hear the voice of El Roi?
It is then that I remember the words He spoke to me when I tried to run away from my master during an earlier time of sadness. He found me near a spring in the desert and said,
“Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?”
At the time, I thought it strange that El Roi knew my name and who I belonged to; yet He would ask a question He ought to know the answer to. I wonder if perhaps it’s the answer which is more important than the question. Though I cannot see Him, I am unafraid to speak to the One who sees me,
“I’m running away from my mistress Sarai.”
Without hesitation, El Roi answers me,
“Go back to your mistress and submit to her. I will increase your descendants that they will be too numerous to count.”
I smile as my son drinks his fill of water and I wonder why I can’t see El Roi. He has saved us and I do not understand why. He’s given me a promise; a reason to go on living. That reason stands before me drinking water from the skin. We will go on now and find what will become our new home and I will watch my son grow and prosper as El Roi has promised.
I say the words to myself, El Roi, The One Who Sees Me.