"Where were you?" Whether the question is from Mom, the boss, the wife, the husband or the grown children; they are not asking, they are accusing: Why weren't you where you were supposed to be?

Your answer is an excuse. Unless you answer "I've been here the whole time."

A shepherd sees a little lamb run off. The shepherd runs after the lamb: to save it from wolves, to ensure the lamb has enough water and enough tender green grass.

While chasing the lamb, he sees a bush on fire, but it isn't burning. He takes off his shoes in deference. He is told by He-knows-who to go free the people from Pharaoh.

But they will ask me Your name, what do I say? asks the shepherd. A bizarre question matched by an equally perplexing answer: tell them my name is I Will Be As I Will Be. (It is the first recorded conversation between the world's greatest teacher and the world's foremost student.)

What is your name? A name is how we relate; it defines who is speaking to whom. If you say Dad, Mr. Smith, Dr. Smith or Sonny or Bubba you're not talking about you or them; you are articulating a relationship.

What is your name? How have you related to these people as Pharaoh threw their sons into the Nile, kidnapped their daughters, bathed in their newborns' blood? Used their children's bodies to fill quotas of unmade bricks? Where were You?

And He answers: Tell them I Will Be As I Will Be. Where was I? I was with them the whole time. When Pharaoh bathed in their babies' blood, it was my blood that was spilled. When he shoved their tiny limbs into spaces meant for bricks, it was me who was shoved in there. Everything they endured, I endured. Everyone who tortured them tortured me. "I am with them in their suffering."

A bush is on fire but it is not consumed. A nation is threatened with death — killed time and time again — but it does not die.

But how does the bush burn without being consumed? For it is I in the fire. Just as I live forever, they live with me. Just as these people live forever, I live with them. We will get burnt on the way. We will suffer. But we will suffer together. And we will not be consumed. Alone. Together.

Why, though, is all this suffering, and retelling and reliving of this suffering, not melancholy to those who live it and tell it and live it again? Because it reminds them of the second phase of the words spoken to the barefooted shepherd. That together we will live, we will leave. With tangible treasure and unmitigated spirit.