by Rosanne Osborne
“Hey Pharaoh, would you let the Hebrews hold a God-festival in the wilderness?” Pharaoh was incensed. He thought those Hebrews were lazy. I will show them, he said. “You must get your own straw, but make the same number of bricks that I have previously required.” Moses was caught in a bind. God required him to lead his people, but Pharoah held them back. Threatened by their increased number, the king feared their possible wilderness freedom more. To maintain control, he must stop this Moses from leading the Hebrews. Scavenging for their own straw, the Hebrews were angered. How dare this king require them to increase a daily load that must have seemed unbearable. They held Moses responsible, too. His wilderness notion seemed insane to their number. How could they produce the same number of bricks as before? The seething Hebrews fell into an emotional wilderness that may have been worse than the required physical enslavement that had its hold on them. God’s intervention was a must! The overseers were upset. They must be certain that the required number of bricks was produced. They alone held the ludicrous goal over the Hebrews. Charged with seeing that the required bricks were fired was its own wilderness. These reactions redefined wilderness. This emblem of freedom, a decided must as liberation is conceived, required those enslaved, those bound by work, to number its underside, its horrors. Those Hebrews experienced what no-man’s-land could hold. Man was required to endure wilderness. If it was to lessen its hold, they must number its worth to the Hebrew soul.
An English professor, Methodist pastor, clarinetist, and poet, Rosanne Osborne holds the Ph.D. in English from the University of Alabama, the MFA from Spalding University, and the MRE and MDiv from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. She grew up in Missouri but has lived most of her adult life in Louisiana. Her work has appeared in Tar River Poetry, Alabama Review, Christian Century, Ruminate, Thema, Penwood Review, and The Village Pariah.