These two (half) brothers have not seen each other in no one knows how many years. What do they say to one another? You – Isaac, what do you say? You – Ishmael, what do you say?
We answer, in character, each of us imagining how it went.
One of us suggests, “I’ve missed you brother; let us make peace”
Another imagines, “What are your intentions?”
Still another sees it this way, “This is my land. Be gone!”
But I know this scene. I have been here before.
And suddenly I am no longer at “the grave” but in a hospital room, years earlier. In the bed is my brother, 39 years old and steadily poisoning himself with alcohol. Within a year he would be dead.
The figure in the corner speaks to me and slowly comes into view. It’s my sister, absent from my life these last five years. Her choice, not mine. She is changed, no longer the teenager she was when she left the family. Her face, like I imagine mine, is warped with grief - reminders of the hurts we all carry.
I don’t actually recognize her. I wonder how this nurse knows my name. Why she is staring at me? Expectantly. Waiting.
Waiting for my response. Waiting for recognition. Like Ishmael across his father’s grave, waiting, possibly hoping, for recognition from the baby brother he left behind so many years ago.
At last I see her for who she is and years of longing and pain come rushing into a room already too full with sorrow. I stutter, say hello, flounder for what comes next. She quietly steps out of the room, leaving me to my visit with our brother who cannot even know I’m there.
The recognition came, but not quickly enough. And in that hesitation – and the flustered awkwardness that followed – was a hurt so deep that it became a chasm, across which we still haven’t reached.
I know how the meeting of the brothers went.
We end our bibliodrama once again in front of an overturned chair and two more behind it, upright, turned slightly towards one another. One is labeled Isaac and the other Ishmael. The brothers, a chasm apart, offer a blessing to one another only they have no voices to speak.
We, the participants, are asked to write their words.
And echoing through the ages, from one set of broken siblings to another, comes this benediction to my lips:
May we find our way past these times of misunderstanding and find our way to peace.