Azazel

On a hill in a Wilderness somewhere in the United States of America.

On the fourth day I began to ask for forgiveness.

I ascended into silence and an animal I cannot identify wandered by (elaborate horns) and nibbled from a loaf of bread I carried with me. I spread a piece of bread with peanut butter, Jif smooth, and the animal signaled to me in some abstract, trans-species way its approval.

Then the animal spoke. It’s about forgiveness, isn’t it, the animal said.

Yes, it’s about forgiveness.

Give me your burdens, the animal said, I am a load-bearing animal, I am a yoked animal, I submit to the yoke of your burdens and I carry them gladly into the Wilderness.

So I took my burdens, my self-consciousness, my separation, my isolation, my flight, fear, especially my fear, everything that separates me from God and all I love the most and I laid them on the shoulders of the animal. On the back of this beautiful yoked beast I gave up my fear, and I watched as the animal disappeared into the distance.

I lifted up my hands and said, to the trees, to the sky, to the stones, to the dirt, to the dirt, to the mud:

Is this the way it works?

From a distance I heard,

Yes, this is precisely the way it works.

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