Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness (c) 2018 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries
This excerpt from They Were Real is inspired by Exodus 1:22–2:10
This moment will change the future for a young protective sister, her small Jewish family, a princess, a nation, all of Egypt, and ultimately the Middle East as we know it.
A five-minute walk to the Nile River is the catalyst for one man’s rise to fame, exile, and eventual return as leader of their people. He will be the one to free the Jews from slavery and lead them to the land God promised to Abraham, their founding father.
Today is the day God begins to change the world. Of course, twelve-year-old Miriam and her mother know none of that.
Miriam can still hear the wails of mothers as their young sons were killed. Even louder is the deathly silence of those whose babies are under threat. Pharaoh, ruler of Egypt, fears the growing slave population and demands the deaths of all newborn Jewish boys.
She tries to keep her eyes off the silent load balancing on the top of her mother’s head. They regularly carry laundry to wash in the river as do most young girls and women of her town. Today’s basket is new and pitched with tar; it is waterproof.
Two days ago, in a type of dress rehearsal, her parents filled this particular basket with rocks close to the weight of today’s cargo. Miriam placed it in the water to test if it would stay afloat, and it did. Today there is no laundry, and no rocks. It is filled with homespun wool topped with a three-month-old baby boy.
He is Miriam’s little brother, Moses.
Both Miriam and her mother do their best to appear nonchalant as they make their way down this well-traveled path. Sounds and voices coming from the river grow in volume. Instead of drawing closer, the pair duck deep into shoreline reeds. Low water erases evidence of footprints in the mud.
Shoving aside tall slender stalks with one hand, Miriam’s mother walks carefully, slowed by pauses to listen. With Miriam close behind, she nears the area her husband had agreed was best. It is private, around the bend and upstream from chaotic laundering and other water traffic. More importantly, Pharaoh’s daughter bathes here at about this time each day. Soon the princess will arrive with several attendants.
Miriam sobs silently, fearful for her baby brother’s life and overcome by enormous pressure to play out her role to the end. She watches their mother’s joyless face as she lowers her tiny son into the water. Lifting the painstakingly woven lid and staring into his eyes for what she knows may be the last time, the woman playfully touches a finger to the tip of her nose, and then to his.
Moses smiles, unconcerned about her tears falling on his face. For one paralyzed moment, it appears she is unable to let him go. Then, more stooped than Miriam has seen her before, their mother backs away slowly, eyes fixed on the basket containing her heart.
Miriam’s heart pounds. She is alone with crucial business to finish. Moses coos, fascinated by swaying reeds against the sky.
As he entered the world, it was she who fetched whatever the midwife needed. Her hands rubbed his belly when he cried. Her arms hugged him tight as she ran at the alarming news that murdering soldiers were near. This is her one last chance to protect him. She prays the plan will work.
Kissing him on his forehead, forgoing the urge to grab him and escape once more, she lowers the lid and gives the basket a slight shove. “I’ll miss you.” Her voice trembles. Moses whimpers.
Back on shore, it seems surreal watching the tiny boat loaded with such priceless treasure floating in those dangerous waters. Her timing is vital. Her lungs seem to stop and simultaneously exit her body, leaving an empty cavern in their place.
Chattering! The princess is on her way! Miriam feels helpless as the basket edges out from between reeds. Moses is in a full-blown cry. Hurry, hurry. Please, no one but the princess hear him!
The small entourage of handmaidens surrounding the princess suddenly stops as she focuses on something in the water. All Miriam’s efforts at appearing casual fail. Staring, she sees Pharaoh’s daughter wave her arm toward the object.
An attendant slips into the river. Miriam’s hope renews as the young woman pulls the basket back to shore. Breathless, she sees it lifted out of the river. The woman with power to choose life for baby Moses or to toss him to crocodiles, motions for someone to open the top.
Reaching with her royal hands, she picks up the infant and holds him to her chest. She smiles! Miriam suddenly remembers her mission and stumbles her way to the commotion surrounding her brother.
“E-E-Excuse me, princess. I know a woman who can n-n-nurse the baby for you.”
Barely glancing up, the princess waves her hand in Miriam’s direction. “Get her, and tell her she’ll be paid,” she said.
There is nothing casual about Miriam’s race toward home. Slowing only a little as she enters a clearing, her hopes are that no one will notice she no longer has her laundry!
She laughs. What does it matter now? Relief and joy carry her across the threshold to face her anxious parents.
“Mother,” she pants, “you’ve been hired by the princess to care for her new son!”
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NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness, abuse, and addiction. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.
If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help are yours.