“Quickly, Misha!” I shout at myself from the corner of the kitchen. “Fetch the other loaves quickly” I run to the pantry, but the four remaining loaves are missing. In fact, the pantry is bare... no more flour, no oil, the salt box is gone and the spice locker is gone from the wall. I fall to my knees and beat the pantry floor with my open hand as the tears come again.
And I hear my name.
“Mishu?” Only my master, the commander, calls me Mishu. My real name is Mishael, meaning “Who is like god?”. The other staff took to calling me Misha but from my first day of service in his household, he has mispronounced it. At first, I lacked the courage to correct him, and later, I didn’t care.
But now I lack the courage to answer. “Mishu! First my cup, and then something to eat.” I can hear the master in the front hall where he reclines at table. The new boy, Nehum, would be removing the master’s sandals and preparing to wash the dust from his feet. A bowl of scented water and towel would be presented for washing his hands and perhaps his face, too. And then I must present the cup and the bread. But only the cup is ready.
I reach hastily for the cup and in my haste a bit of the wine escapes over the rim to the kitchen floor... and I freeze in horror. While I watch myself lean forward for a better look, I instinctively step back, for I know what it is. It is the blood from the butchered lamb; that blood that the butcher, Ephod, had caught in the master’s fine cup. The blood that will now cost me my life.
I rest the cup on the table and slump onto the bench. I have failed in my duties and deserve whatever fate or punishment the master declares. But worse still, knowing that he has been good to me, and patient, and kind... and now when he needs me I have failed to return his goodness with thoroughness, his patience with diligence, and his kindness with due service. With my face in my hands, I resign myself to face the master with empty hands.
“Misha,” I hear the new boy hiss, “ What is wrong with you? I will take this to the master.” The boy snatches the cup and the platter from the table and rushes to serve in my stead.
“NO-O-O!”, I scream and lurch from the bench, but my voice is a croak and my legs fail me, too. Like pressing through a crowded room, I struggle to reach the front hall before the cup and the platter are presented, but unseen hands clutch at me and clinging vines ensnare my feet. “Stop, boy! Please stop!”
As if through a window, I see with dismay that the Commander has the cup and the platter in hand, and I am planted on my face before him. “I am sorry,” I whisper to myself. “I am sorry, Master,” I hear myself whisper from the floor. “So very sorry.”
My master rises from his customary place at table, leaving the cup and meal behind. Then, doffing his cloak of office and all semblance of rank or privilege, he gathers the cup and, lifting me up, offers it to me. “Did you taste the new wine, the wine you served me?”
“No, Master. I have failed you.” My knees were failing me, and I began to sink to the floor, but he steadied me with his strong hand.
“Take it, Mishu, and drink.” A direct command. Again the master offered me the cup. With eyes closed, I took the first tentative sip... and was stunned to find the cup contained only the fine, sweet vintage I had prepared earlier. A glorious, quenching, refreshingly light drink unlike any I had known before. I offered it back to him, but with his palm he pressed it back toward me. “You should drink fully,” he said.
As I took a single large swallow from the cup, I both felt and saw the tension and uncertainty falling away from myself like tares and brambles shorn away from the young vine by the vinedressers.
“Mishu, did you prepare this meal, also?” The master turned away from me and took the woven platter in hand. But when he turns to face me, it is not the commander...a stranger stands before me. “Take. Eat.” he says.
Giving your heart to others by listening to their heart
When you grow a leader who values people you help the whole world