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December 12, 2017

2. As Above

Caspar realized himself in a desert area—some dry and windy place of nowhere. From behind him he heard a desperate cry for help. He twisted quickly to see a man, thrashing in the dust. As Caspar ran closer he saw snakes of all shapes and sizes constricting and preventing his motion and wrapping themselves all around him, as if Laocoön himself. The afflicted man has a knife but how useless it is. Caspar was frozen.

Caspar heard what sounded like thunder and caught sight of a different figure, seemingly floating at a fantastic pace, towards the man. His hair was white and his beard flew behind him in the wind. He wielded a bronze staff shaped like a serpent. As he approached, he raised the serpent-staff and the snakes scattered and disappeared into the earth like enormous worms, completely vanishing after a mere moment.

What a strange event, Caspar thought to himself. As he was going to approach the two men, the afflicted man took to his knees, thankless and irreverent towards his rescuer, he took his knife and plunged it into the dry and hardened earth. Caspar was startled to see blood pour from the barren land. The man was relentless in attacking the earth. The gaping slit in the earth like flesh continued to spill blood and dampen the man’s clothing.

The angelic man seemed as startled as Caspar and looked aghast. He quickly interrupted the once-afflicted man with his staff and raised it once more. it caught downward on his head and with no difficulty split the man in half, completely opening him from head to groin. There was no blood. The man fell limp and his halves sloughed like the shed skins of a snake.

The wind picked up and Caspar gagged, his large hand covered his mouth. One half of the limp and lifeless man flicked and trembled in the lapping breeze. It seemed to inflate and take on mass again, while strangely growing back the missing portion: collarbone to ribs and arm; abdomen and hip and into a new thigh, knee, shin, and foot. The lifeless half still remains and lying in the dirt the full half is now full and remade.

Without words the new man climbed to his hands and knees and realized himself. He saw the discarded other half of himself and looked up at the holy man. Before the new man could stand he crawled to his knife and old flesh and continued to open the earth further. Caspar shuddered to think the white-haired man will again raise his staff in control but he simply and patiently watched. On his hands and knees, the man stuffed his past skin into the severed earth and covered it back, like a gardener meticulously caring for this desolate land.

His countenance is reverent and apologetic as he rises to meet the eyes of the white-haired man. As both men stand and face each other the white-haired man passed his staff horizontally in some ceremony of passing down a relic. Once the older man had fully passed the staff he began to walk away.

When Caspar saw this he unthinkingly took a step forward. Despite the distance and the impossibility it caught the eye of the new staff-bearer. Their eyes met. Caspar was stricken. His skin went cold even in the open warmth of the sun. His heart pounded and he turned around to run. In that moment he awoke heaving and soaked in a cold sweat. 

After a moment of recollection he knew what it meant.

In the Old Testament book of Numbers there is an account of snakes biting the Israelites. Moses uses a bronze serpent as a cure: look upon the serpent and be healed. This story takes influence from this passage as well as the relationship of mankind and God’s creation and a general redemptive quality of the New Testament.

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