It has a bite unlike any other.
Am I connected?
Do I belong?
Are these MY people, or am I a stranger? Dislocated? Out of place?
Who cares for me, at the deepest level?
Moses was surrounded by some three million people. Yet at this point in his life he was very lonely. He had sent his wife and two kids away long ago to live in their ancestral home. They didn't have facebook OR email to keep in touch.
God had allowed him to work hand in glove with his brother. His older sister was always around. Close at hand.
In this passage Miriam, his older sister dies. She had rescued him from the waters of the Nile as a baby. Been close at hand when he was growing up. Although they lost contact for forty years, they reconnected when Moses came back, storming into Egypt and confronting Pharoah. She was always there during all the adventures in the desert. And now she was gone...
1 "In the first month, the entire company of the People of Israel arrived in the Wilderness of Zin. The people stayed in Kadesh.
Miriam died there, and she was buried."
He didn't have time to properly mourn, becuase they immediately fell into another crisis in Kadesh. So they moved on...
22 "The People of Israel, the entire company, set out from Kadesh and traveled to Mount Hor.
23 -26 God said to Moses and Aaron at Mount Hor at the border of Edom, "It's time for Aaron to be gathered into the company of his ancestors. He will not enter the land I am giving to the People of Israel because you both rebelled against my orders at the Waters of Meribah. So take Aaron and his son Eleazar and lead them up Mount Hor. Remove Aaron's clothes from him and put them on his son Eleazar. Aaron will be gathered there; Aaron will die."
27 -29 Moses obeyed God's command. They climbed Mount Hor as the whole congregation watched. Moses took off Aaron's clothes and put them on his son Eleazar. Aaron died on top of the mountain. Then Moses and Eleazar came down from the mountain. The whole congregation, getting the news that Aaron had died, went into thirty days of mourning for him."
This is doubly sad. Aaron, his quirky younger brother, was at his side at all times. Like so many brother relationships, he was a source of trouble as well as a source of strength and inspiration. I think they truly were best friends.
And now he was not only dead - but dead in disgrace.
This time the group properly mourns. Thirty days. But I think Moses' private mourning went on a whole lot longer.
My beloved grandpa died when I was 19. The other 3 before I was 25. Then my adored and beloved sister Dorie died when she was 44 of breast cancer. My beloved auntie Doris at 80 from heart failure. My Dad died in 2003. My Mom in 2007. Uncle Cecil shortly after.
I have experienced the bite of loneliness. Even when surrounded by good and loving people.