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ALIVE

ALIVE is a book presented as a blog series about human life from its inception. It studies the purpose of life, the philosophy of life, and the difference between physical life and spiritual life. The book does this by delving into the relationship between humankind and its invisible but highly active and involved Creator.

Based on Biblical narrative ALIVE enters major events and fleshes them out. In so doing ALIVE makes discoveries about the origins and evolution of human life.

ALIVE combines imagination and scriptual accuracy to develop the themes of what it means to be much more than physically ALIVE. Although imaginative, ALIVE never contradicts Scripture. Enjoy and learn.

The Bride's Year

This is a series of posts that make up a story describing the Year of The Church. The Church is The Bride of Christ who will be married to Him at The Wedding Feast of the Lamb as described in the Book of Revelations to John. The Wedding of Jesus Christ with the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church occurs after the destruction of this old earth and the inauguration of the new earth, also known as The Land of Immortality. 

It is a tale of a cynical little angel that God sent to earth to learn about the mystical year of synchronic time and about His Betrothed.

My writing offers readers a fresh way of looking at and learning about orthodox Christianity.

The style is intended to help the mind and heart overcome old prejudices and awaken them to the Truth of God’s plan for the human-gods that were created in His image and likeness.

 

About the Blog

This blog is for those who take the line in the Nicene Creed seriously that says, “I await the resurrection of the dead and the life of the ages to come.” That is the life immortal into which Jesus Christ will someday usher renewed humans. For centuries these people have been called Christians, and they are still called Christians, but since Christianity has become such a broad term and Christ said that the gate into immortal life is narrow and difficult to squeeze through, then perhaps those few serious people would be better identified as “Aspiring Immortals”.

 

This blog is a journal of just such an Aspiring Immortal. Through stories, poems, and journal entries I teach orthodox Christianity. I am not a religious rebel, instead I’d rather identify with GK Chesterton, CS Lewis, and my favorite Saints such as Francis of Assisi, Chrysostom, and Climacus whose vision and creativity have guided so many aspiring immortals through this earthly life.

 

A companion to this blog is my book entitled “The Immortal Life (TIL).” TIL teaches orthodox Christianity to those who want to know the reason for life and death, good and evil. TIL explains it all from the fall of mankind to the annihilation of this planet with a refreshing contemporary voice that is at times even funny.

 

We all work very hard to improve life on this planet for ourselves and for each other. And yet there is so much more life has to offer. Aspiring immortals are the salt of this earth and the substance of the next one.

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    Thursday
    May252017

    ALIVE: Chapter 49, To Kill for Straw

    God called Perambula and Gracefeld for a meeting. Gracefeld arrived first because it took Perambula a while to leave the touching scene of the family reunion in Miriam's home.

    "Be prepared to see for yourselves your advantage over humankind. Your timelessness and your spiritual sight shield you from much grief that humans suffer because of their short sightedness." God said to His angels. "I want you to stay near them. Gracefeld, you are assigned to Pharaoh. Don't ever leave him. Keep him determined, no matter what he suffers, to hold on to the Hebrews. It won't be very hard for Pharaoh to cling to free labor and to power over the slaves, but the plagues that I will send will be serious and dreadful. The plagues will be designed to tear the Hebrews away from this Egyptian prison, by showing them My Will and My Power." God looked into their angel eyes and saw the kind of support and determination that were the reasons that He chose these two out of all the host of heaven.

    "Lord, what is my assignment?" chirped Perambula enthusiastically.

    "You will remain with Moses and Aaron, don't let them buckle. I will help you by speaking to Moses when it is necessary. Don't allow them to argue with each other.

    You will be sent throngs of angels to assist you with the people, but your job to lead and to manage them will be most demanding."

    "Yes, my Lord." replied Perambula dutifully while wondering if Gracefeld had the better role. After all, Gracefeld had only one person to manage.

    "Stop that!" bellowed the Lord after reading Perambula's thoughts. "Now let's all get to work! This will be the most significant scene in My story, perhaps since Creation. Unlike in Creation, what happens here, the relatively peaceful exodus of the captives will be taught, remembered and celebrated by every generation until the end of time for the lessons that I will convey to humanity, but to My people first, now be off!"

    God and His angels appreciate the nights when people must sleep for the time it gives for planning. The concept of time can be as useful as it is blinding. Sunrise marked their dispersal to their assignments.

    ...

    Aaron woke up first. The truth is that his anticipation of going to the palace with Moses terrified him and kept him from sleeping soundly all night long. Never had a slave simply walked into the palace. What if he was arrested? Yet, he marveled at the Lord's wisdom that Moses would not be a lone leader of this extraordinary mission. One man alone would be taken less seriously, would be easily dismissed. In his musings Aaron wondered exactly when God had initiated this plan. Was it even before he was born? Was this the reason for Moses' speech impediment? How patient must God be to allow decades to pass for His will to be done? Why?

    Before Aaron could carry his thoughts to any conclusion Miriam entered the room. "Aaron, breakfast will be ready soon. Sepphora is preparing it. Time to get dressed."

    "Thank you Miriam. I am coming."

    ...

    Aaron and Moses walked in a strong determined fashion without speaking to each other or to any of the curious onlookers they passed through the winding neighborhoods to the palace.

    The palace guards watched them approach becoming more alert as they drew near. Several of them banded together to create a barrage in front of the outer gate.

    When they were within range, Aaron shouted. "We come in peace. I bring Moses, brother of Pharaoh returned from Midian. He wishes to speak to Pharaoh."

    To the strong young guards the name of Moses was a legend. Mothers and fathers told their children the tale about the traitor who killed an Egyptian guard. The shame the story evoked warned them never to sympathize with the slaves. If even the grandson of Pharaoh would have to run from Pharaoh's wrath, what would become of lesser sympathizers?

    "Tell Pharaoh that Moses has returned and wants to see him." explained Aaron with as much sound of authority as this 83 year old slave could muster, even when speaking to men less than half his age.

    Pharaoh was young when Moses ran away, so he was curious to see him again after all these years. 'Moses has returned has he? Has he come to usurp my throne?' thought Pharaoh. "Let him in, but guard him closely and make sure he carries no weapons. Let's see what he wants." ordered Pharaoh.

    The guards went back to the entrance to retrieve the motley visitors. Moses and Aaron were escorted to the throne room, surrounded by four burley armed guards.

    As he walked through the palace memories flooded Moses' mind. The familiar aromas of perfume and cooking brought back many memories of his childhood. He didn't need an escort to find his grandfather's throne. Little had changed within the massive halls of the grandest and largest building in the world.

    "Master Moses! It's so good to see you again!" A handshake greeted Moses as an elderly version of his young playmate approached him enthusiastically. After several moments of chatter, Moses' recognition of this person gradually came into focus.

    "What brings you home after all these years Master?"

    "Ahh Rafa, you know this is not my home. I have come to ask the new pharaoh to release the Jews for three days that they may go into the wilderness and worship their God together, as free men."

    "Oh Master, who can be free for three days? Do the Jews even know who is this god of theirs?"

    "I cannot answer that Rafa. I do what I am told. How have you been? Has this pharaoh treated you well?"

    "I cannot, I dare not complain master." replied Rafa before stepping back so the entourage could continue their journey to the throne room.

    "Let's go," barked the lead guard while nudging Aaron's arm.

    Moses and Aaron flanked by guards stepped quickly through the massive palace and into the throne room.

    Moses was alarmed to see the pharaoh as such a strong and virile man. The pharaoh who was Moses's grandfather and this man's elderly father, had grown into a decrepit old man since the days he ordered the midwives to kill all male babies. Before him stood a rock wall of a man.

    Pharaoh was sizing up Moses as well. There were no pleasant greetings as one would expect from a long separated brother. Nothing in his expression or in his eyes revealed even a wisp of the common memory of their family life in the palace.

    "Why have you come?" bellowed Pharaoh, in the same tone that Perambula often heard from God.

    Although Pharaoh was looking straight at Moses, Aaron replied, surprising Pharaoh who turned to look at Aaron. "The Lord, the God of Israel, sent us to say to you, 'Let my people go, so that they may celebrate a festival to Me in the wilderness."

    "Who is the Lord, that I should heed him and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord, nor will I let Israel go!"

    Aaron conferred with Moses and then repeated, "The God of the Hebrews has revealed Himself to us; let us go a three days journey into the wilderness to sacrifice to the Lord our God, or He will fall upon us with pestilence or sword." Moses watched Pharaoh's face closely for reaction. Perambula thought it wise to start by asking for only three days, when all along the intention was complete freedom.

    "How dare you ask to remove the people from their work? Aaron, get to your labors!" Pharaoh continued. "Moses, you know that the Hebrews are more numerous than we are and yet you want them to stop working? Don't be absurd! Now get out!"

    At the nod of Pharaoh the guards closed in on Moses and Aaron and grabbed each man's arm to escort him out. Neither man turned to look back at Pharaoh, but rather jerked his arm out of the clutches of the young guards and with slightly regained dignity walked out.

    Gracefeld whispered in Pharaoh's mind, 'You must be firm with these men. Moses looked too comfortable before you. You need the sons of Israel more than they need you, and they are greater than you. Consider this Pharaoh: You must be stronger than the wind and sharper than the night's freeze to prevail over a force so much greater than you, God or no God.'

    When the footsteps of Aaron and Moses could no longer be heard Pharaoh shouted, "Rafa! Call the taskmasters and the supervisors of the Hebrew people to come to me at once!"

    "Yes," whispered mischievous Gracefeld to the pharaoh's heart, "we will show them who is king!" While waiting for the taskmasters, Pharaoh went back to his inner chamber to change his clothes and wash his hands.

    "The taskmasters and supervisors have arrived sire." announced Rafa.

    Back on his throne Pharaoh spoke to his taskmasters, all brutes that they were and said, "You shall no longer give the people straw to make bricks as before; let them go and gather straw for themselves. But you shall require of them the same quantity of bricks as they have made previously; do not diminish it, for they are lazy; that is why they cry, 'Let us go and offer sacrifice to our God.' Let heavier work be laid on them; then they will labor at it and pay no attention to deceptive words. Now go and do as you are commanded!"

    The taskmasters and the supervisors of the people went out, each to his neighborhood and proclaimed, "Thus says Pharaoh, 'You will no longer be given straw, but must get straw for yourselves, wherever you can find it; but you must produce the same number of bricks each day."

    The people scattered throughout the land of Egypt to gather stubble for straw, attempting to comply with this impossible demand. Day after day the brick makers had to venture farther and farther out to gather the straw for their bricks. When the sun went down, it was impossible to continue their work. As each day went by, fewer and fewer bricks were being made. Meanwhile, the Egyptian straw gatherers had nothing to do, and irritated their wives and children all day long.

    When the Egyptian taskmasters saw that indeed the Hebrews were not producing the required number of bricks, they beat the Hebrew supervisors. The bruised and frustrated supervisors who had been accustomed to respect gathered in force and presented themselves to Pharaoh who received them.

    In a pitiful tone the leader of the supervisors cried and said, "Why do you treat your servants like this? No straw is given to your servants, yet they say to us, 'Make bricks!' Look how your servants are beaten! You are unjust to your own people."

    Pharaoh answered this whining man by saying, "You are lazy, lazy; that is why you sent Moses and Aaron to request that you go and sacrifice to your god. Get back to work, get your own straw and deliver the same number of bricks."

    The discouraged supervisors turn and walked away from Pharaoh with their heads and shoulders low and their bruises throbbing.

    Moses and Aaron waited for them outside the perimeter of the palace. When they saw the band of bruised supervisors appear they could see immediately how disheartened they were.

    Perambula whispered to Moses', "Surely you expected this!"

    Moses brushed that inner message off as a fly that landed on his shoulder.

    The band of supervisors in a cacophony of chatter each in his own voice and his own words but united with one message growled in viscous anger at Moses and Aaron saying, "The Lord look upon you and judge! You have brought us into bad odor with Pharaoh and his officials, and have put a sword in their hand to kill us!"

    Moses and Aaron were frightened by the hostility of these men with murder in their hearts. Fortunately, they had to get back to work.

    When they were at a safe distance, Moses looked up into the heavens and said, "O Lord, why have you mistreated these people? Why did you ever send me? Since I first came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has mistreated this people, and you have done nothing at all to deliver your people."

    Gracefeld rolled angel eyes thinking how easily the will of Moses was dissipated by the slightest breeze and looked fiercely over at Perambula whose job it was to keep Moses and Aaron on track.

    Monday
    May012017

    ALIVE: Chapter 48, Israel's Wet Toe


    While Aaron was out Miriam was filled with joy that her long lost brother and his family were actually in her humble home. Miriam saw her father in Gersam's eyes, and her mother in Eliazer's high cheek bones; she felt as if her beloved parents were in the room with them. Sepphora was a lovely woman, and even though she spoke a different language, they chattered away together in broken words with hands fluttering. Miriam was shocked when Sepphora told her about the emergency circumcision. She decided to ponder later what that event said about her God. Moses sat quietly gazing at the cozy domestic scene and then asked for a place to take a nap. Miriam ushered him into their parent's old room where he soon fell into a deep and restful slumber.

    Aaron burst through the door quite agitated.

    Miriam looked up, "What did they say Aaron? Who did you go see? When will the meeting be, and where?"

    Still jittery, Aaron replied, "I began with Judah. The elder of Judah is the oldest and carries more weight than the others. Of course he was astonished, but also skeptical. He agreed that we should all meet. He was most anxious to see Moses, and said that he didn't believe that this man was our Moses."

    Sepphora did not understand a word of the exchange, but sat curiously looking on.

    "He will see and know." said Miriam. "And what of the others? You have been gone a long time."

    "Judah and I decided there wasn't a moment to waste. They will gather here tomorrow at sunset. Where is Moses? I must go and prepare him."

    "Wait, Moses sleeps. Who else did you see?"

    "Judah and I divided the tribes. He went to tell the elders of Reuben, Dan and Simeon, and Issachar. And I visited the elders of Zebulun, Joseph and Benjamin, Naphtali, Gad and Asher. I will let him sleep."

    But Perambula did not. The busy guardian angel went into the sleeping room, and into the dream of Moses where he was fending off viscous wolves."Moses, wake up; it is day, you are in Egypt, in the city, in the home of your birth. Aaron is back. There is much to do."

    Aaron quietly entered the room to find his brother's eyes open. "Are you awake brother?"

    "Yyyyes I am. Whwhwhwhwh...en do we meet with the elders?"

    "Tomorrow night. They will come here. I don't think you should go out yet, lest the guards see you. It was fortunate enough to have gotten you and your family in here without being noticed.

    The boys were anxious to go into the city for they had never seen such a place before. But for the same reason, strangers would be apprehended immediately, they needed to stay inside. Gersam and Eliezer were not accustomed to the restricted life of a slave. The boys felt imprisoned in this strange home surrounded by foreign people. Gersam longed for the open desert. Eliezer wanted to return to the sea.

    The following evening, by ones and twos the elders arrived at Miriam's home to see and hear Moses. Miriam managed to find and borrow enough chairs which the boys helped her fit into the main room. Moses and Aaron would have to stand as would Miriam and Sepphora. The boys sat on the floor in front. Perambula hovered.

    Aaron spoke all the words that the Lord had spoken to Moses, and performed the signs in the sight of the people. Once again the staff of Moses became a serpent and then he seized it by the tail and it became a hard staff in his hand again. Moses' tucked his hand inside his cloak, and when he took it out, his hand was leprous, as white as snow. He held it high for everyone to see. Then Perambula told him in his mind when to put his hand back into his cloak, and when he took it out again, it was restored like the rest of his body. The elders and Miriam gasped in unison.

    Aaron proclaimed to the elders, "God has observed the misery of us, His people; and heard our cries on account of our taskmasters. He knows our sufferings. He has come down to deliver us from the Egyptians, and to bring us up out of this land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the country of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites.

    We will tell Pharaoh that if he will not let us go, our God will stretch out His hand and strike Egypt with all His wonders that he will perform in it; after that he will let us go. The Lord God will bring us into such favor with the Egyptians that when we go, we will not go empty-handed; each woman shall ask her neighbor and any woman living in the neighbor's house for jewelry of silver and gold, and clothing, and we shall put them on our sons and daughters; and so shall we plunder the Egyptians."

    There was murmuring and sighs, and gasps from the elders. "Who is this God?!" shouted the elder of Reuben. "What is his name?"

    Aaron looked at Moses inquisitively.

    Moses stammered, "I am. I am who I am has sent me to you. I am is the Lord, the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is His name forever and this is His title for all generations."

    Perambula reminded Moses to warn the elders that they must be strong and faithful and patient while their God strikes Eqypt. They will all suffer the signs and wonders, until the last day, when Pharaoh will release them. They must be stoic in the face of the devastation of the land, knowing that the horrors they will see are meant for their good, for their release from the chains that have linked them to the diabolical power of Pharaoh's greed.

    The elders believed; and when they heard that the Lord had given heed to the Israelites and that he had seen their misery, they bowed down and worshiped.

    Sepphora, Miriam, Gersam and Eliezer looked on this scene with wonderment and curiosity. What was happening in that room was new, they had no frame of reference for it. It was the work of God, to introduce Himself to this generation of the children of Abraham who had finally matured in size into a nation, powerless without Him.

    The seed that was God's word to Moses from the burning bush had taken hold, and was presented as a young tree with small tight buds, unfamiliar buds, strange swollen nodules that would someday feed the world. Each of the women, and each of the boys perceived the scene differently. For Moses' family who had known neither the travail of the Hebrew people, nor of the royal life of Moses, this was a vacation, an adventure. For Miriam, it was the echo of her nightly howling at the moon.

    Men fell to their knees. Sensitive men, who sensed the power of the moment became teary-eyed, their faces touched the floor where feet delivered the dirt of fields and street, bearded faces hid themselves from the unknown, overwhelming, much longed for, but never imagined possibility of a free world.

    The more coarse elders wondered which idol heard their cry. Then there were among them men of doubt who allowed themselves to be carried by the emotions of the faithful.

    On this auspicious night Israel took its first step out of Egypt.

    Sunday
    Apr232017

    ALIVE: Chapter 47, The Invisible Egyptian Door


    The reunited brothers each sensed in his spirit the magnitude of what was to happen, of their mission to yank from the clutches of the height of human power the lowly slaves, people of a unique, albeit latent, covenant with God. A tornado being stopped in its vicious tracks by a candle light could not have shocked demonic powers more. For it was not only the power of Pharaoh that was to be dissolved, but the tails of it in the hubris of every guard, and of the more arrogant wives and children who embodied the spirit of domination that was to be utterly extinguished by the power of the Creator of heaven and earth and of everything visible and invisible.

    Moses and Aaron and the family set up camp at the foot of Mt. Horeb where Moses told Aaron all the words of the Lord with which he had sent him to that place, and all the signs with which he had charged him. Aaron learned why he had felt compelled to find Moses and he was amazed by how God directed him in his subconscious. This revelation for Aaron not only impressed him, it also prevented Aaron from thinking that his brother Moses was a madman with an impossible quest. The hard and real fact that he was sitting at the foot of this mountain with his long lost brother was proof enough to Aaron that Moses was an instrument of God, and so was he.

    "I ah ah h h h heard God spppppeak to mmmme fffff ffff fff from a bbbbur burnnnnn ing bush!"

    It didn't take Aaron long to discover why he was needed.

    "Wwweee mmmust ffffirst gagagather the elders and inform them and the people of our Exodus."

    "Can you make your staff turn into a serpent whenever you want?" inquired Aaron.

    "No. God is in control of everything. He will tell me and I will tell you, and you will tell the people. I have no power on my own. I am nothing but a shepherd, the immigrant husband of the daughter of Jethro, the priest of Midian, and so I have been for these forty years. My sons know nothing of my royal life in Egypt."

    "Moses, is it enough that you and I believe? God will have to convince the elders."

    "Aaron, what we are about to witness is no less than the indisputable power of God over nature. The seed of hope that we will plant in these men will grow into a mighty bridge to span the canyon between the deep despair they have been accustomed to feeling and faith. At least, I hope so."

    "Slavery, my brother, has made our people stiff-necked. We are a proud and noble clan that has not worn well the costume of fools these many generations."

    "Yes, brother. I have considered that we have not only to convince Pharaoh, but our mission includes the need to change the mindset of people who have, even in their complaining, acclimated well to the wretched balance of power they have known all their lives." replied Moses. "Let's not dwell on obstacles, but on our mission. We will head out tomorrow. We can continue our conversation on the road. Now, let's sleep."

    Tucked between the layers of blankets in his bedroll to shield him from the cold desert nights, Aaron's thoughts turned to Miriam and how surprised she would be to see him back so soon. He was glad to be returning to her and their cozy home. How happy she would be to see Moses again. Since she saved his life as an infant she had no contact with him. Then it occurred to Aaron that God had chosen Moses from birth for this purpose, and that Miriam too had been used as an instrument of a very patient God who had waited these eighty years for the right moment to act. A deep and sound sleep slowly consumed Aaron's consciousness before he could ponder any more of God's Wisdom.

    At daybreak in a syncopated rhythm that amused Perambula, the eyes of Eliezer, Sepphora, Moses, Aaron, and last of all, Gersam opened, then in a different order shut and opened, until each was vertical and packing bedrolls and noshing on crusts of bread.

    By the third hour the family with their new Uncle Aaron and the one well-rested re-burdened ass were headed northwest to Egypt together.

    Moses and Aaron lead their little auspicious parade to fetch God's people out of their enslavement. Repeating much of what he had told Aaron already to let the miracle gel in their minds, Moses again conveyed to Aaron all that the Lord has said and done to him. This time, Aaron was less flabbergasted and could begin to think about the scope of their mission. He would first gather the elders to prepare them, so they could in turn prepare the people. Aaron mentally made a list of who to tell, and considered where they would meet. The Egyptians frowned upon assemblies, so they would have to be discreet. To keep Moses from talking and disturbing his planning, Aaron started to think aloud. Moses surely needed Aaron for more than public speaking, as Moses would have no idea of how to prepare the people. And Aaron had no idea of how to reach Pharaoh's ears.

    The following days of walking, and resting, talking, and thinking gradually brought them to the river. There was less for Gracefeld and Perambula to do on the return journey as Aaron had just made the trip and remembered every landmark; although forty years had passed, the time-lapse seemed to Moses to be as nothing. Moses felt that he was walking back into his true self, the son of Pharaoh's daughter. He did not fear Pharaoh as others would, even this new Pharaoh.

    Looking around the busy dock Aaron soon recognized the fisherman who had recently brought him across the sea and gave him the fish for his journey. This fisherman, in character, offered to transport the family the back to the other side. He laughed when Aaron told him why he was returning so soon, sure that Aaron was joking with him.

    The sea air felt so good on their swarthy skin. The boys relished in the experience, having never been on a boat before. Sepphora covered her head closely so her hair wouldn't become knotted. Their hearts felt as free and light as the breeze that swept over them.

    On the other side of the sea an unfamiliar sense of awe came over Moses who had been unusually quiet for most of the boat ride. As he disembarked he looked around at the bustling port with fisherman and buyers exchanging with each other and vying with other members of their own species. Moses looked in the distance towards the home of his youth, where he saw not the hard physical landscape, but rather visions of illusive memories as a collage of his life. He experienced a visceral entrance into a new chapter, but more than that. For Moses, it was as if he was about to walk into a new body and a new life. Behind him were Sepphora and his sons, and Jethro his kind and wise father and the herd of sheep. Ahead he had to prepare for spiritual warfare, where through him the power of God would confound nature and natural man. Moses sensed that his mission was impossible unless he changed, unless he yielded himself to something much greater than himself. He would have to be simultaneously strong and powerful, and all surrendered to the Voice of the burning bush.

    "Come brother," said Aaron, "follow me. We should arrive by tomorrow. I will take you home to Miriam, while I assemble the elders to tell them the good news. What do you want me to say to them? How will we convince them?"

    Meanwhile God, Perambula and Gracefeld had their own conference. "Perambula, I want you to prepare the Hebrew people for what is about to occur. For it will be no less cataclysmic for them than the flood was for those in the days of Noah. A very new and different world, a new and different sense of life and purpose will overcome these tribes. The plagues will prepare them for this transformation of their existence, but even before that, I want you to go to these people and wake them up from their enslaved mental stupor."

    The angel not quite sure how to respond to this demand agreed that it was necessary. Perambula would need legions of angels to explore every household to familiarize themselves with these creatures and determine the transformation in their souls that needed to occur.

    "Yes, my Lord. I will need an army of angels to assist. Will you send them, or should I go to retrieve them?" replied Perambula.

    "You will find them waiting for you, now be off. There is much to be done." With that Perambula disappeared leaving God with Gracefeld hovering nearby awaiting his own assignment.

    "And I, my Lord, what is it that you should have Me do?"

    "Gracefeld, your mission will be to harden the heart of Pharaoh. Whereas the Hebrews must become more aware, more perceptive of the depth my Creation, Pharaoh must be blinded to anything but his own power and comfort. He must become as a world unto himself."

    "From what I have seen of this despot, he is already such a fool."

    "Gracefeld, Pharaoh will have to maintain that strong ego through many severe tastings. Your job is to make sure he doesn't waver. Let there be no doubt in his mind that he can survive the plagues to come. Your job is harder than you think. Use whatever means you need to, now be off. I have my own work to do."

    "Yes, Sir!" said Gracefeld humbly before shooting off to the castle while wondering what God planned to do for himself.

    Moses and his family and the donkey and Aaron arrived in the city on the biweekly day of rest.

    Aaron asked Moses and the family to wait nearby while he went inside the home to prepare Mariam for the shock of her life.

    Aaron found Miriam kneading bread when he casually entered as if he had just returned from work.

    Miriam looked up to see who entered. As soon as she grasped that it was her beloved brother she ran over to him with her glutenous sticky hands and hugged him too long.

    "Oh Aaron, you have returned! You changed your mind and have come back to your home and your bed! Sit, and tell me what happened."

    "My dear Miriam, we must both sit, for I have an even greater surprise for you; Moses and his wife and two sons are outside this very door. The Lord God, whom Moses heard speak to him, is preparing to free us from Egypt. The time is coming and now is when the sons and daughters of Abraham will enjoy freedom in a land of our own as the covenant decreed!"

    Miriam wasn't sure whether to believe her brother or ask him to lie down to return to his dream and wake up again. Instead, she was speechless. Aaron seized the silence to retrieve Moses who was waiting outside the door.

    "Come, Moses, see your sister who has longed for this moment her entire life without being conscious it was not indeed a fantasy."

    Moses smiled as he had to lower his head to enter the home he last saw on the day he was weaned.

    Although the elderly siblings would not have recognized each other walking down a busy street, their hearts instantly locked in each other's long embrace.

    Sunday
    Apr092017

    The Power of Love, A Paschal Intermission from Moses


    Holy Week is the time to contemplate the Power of Love because as Jesus said, "No greater love has a man than that he lay down his life for a friend." The power of Jesus's love has survived millennia of death and decay. Throughout the last 20 centuries, it has healed some, comforted others, given hope to the despairing and fed and protected many. Nevertheless, it has not died or dissipated. It is as potent today as it was in the 10th century or the fifteenth. Like any valuable thing, the Power of Love is difficult to acquire. It is rare and expensive. It can only be traded for pride and ego. Two items that everyone has too much of and is usually unwilling to relinquish.

    My story about when the Power of Love transported me to heaven:

    In 1972, while I was on vacation in Greece with my grandmother, I met George Boukis through new friends, Nick and Elly, in my grandmother's village in Mytilene. His father was a shipping magnate and the family lived in Wimbledon Common. George worked in his father's Athens office. The group of friends, of which George was one, and I was a newcomer, went to night clubs in Athens, swam at night, and in general just had fun together. When I returned to the States, George and I corresponded. He invited me to Athens in December when I graduated from college. I accepted. But first, I was to fly to his family home in England for New Year's Eve.

    The experience of staying at George's family home was unique. I found myself in a very different world. I had never been to a home with servants. Dinner was served by footmen who passed around platters of food. There were only tiny little covered waste baskets in the bedroom because they were emptied every day. To make one's own bed was against the rules. There were original Renoir paintings and other master artists on exhibit in every room. Silence surrounded Wimbledon Common at night. That was eerie.

    The family's social life was less impressive. Their social circle was comprised of similarly wealthy families. Most of their time was spent gossiping about each other. There were many rules of decorum that I had to quickly learn, such as to stand whenever an adult entered the room.

    One day several of us went to a department store together. As I was riding the steep escalator, I looked down at the shrinking people below. They seemed to be as mice, and I sensed that only we were men. I was disgusted by that feeling, but I took note of it.

    George didn't have a license to drive. When he wanted to go somewhere, he simply called for a car and driver. He hadn't gone to college because he already had a high paying job. He did whatever his parents wanted him to do. I didn't like these traits at all, but he was very kind, innocent, and untarnished. He thought very differently from me, and I was intrigued by the difference.

    New Year's Eve at the Savoy Hotel with his family was like going back in time. The decor was dated 1950s, and the sound from the band matched. It was awful.

    I left Wimbledon before George and went to Paris since I had never been. I wanted George to come with me, but he had to get back to work. A few days later, he had a car pick me up at the airport in Athens. He took me to his modern upscale apartment by the sea, miles from my cousin's middle class row house in Athens. George's grandmother lived in the same building.

    Every day, I dressed up fancy only to sit in the beautiful airy apartment and read as I imagined rich wives with servants did while their husbands were at work. We played house. He would come home and we would dine together and talk into the night. I had my own room, but eventually we merged. The maid reported our sleeping arrangement to the grandmother.

    George fell deeply in love with me.

    One day, just as I finished reading Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis, the grandmother paid me a visit. The book had left me in a particularly mellow state. The grandmother insisted that I leave. I called my cousin and told him I was coming to his house. George was upset, but meek. Soon, I returned to the States and George wrote and called me often. He was beside himself and said he was clutching a single glove I had left behind. I wasn't sure how I felt since I didn't like him all that much. His parents were separating because his father preferred the mistress, and his mother insisted that he have nothing to do with me. Perhaps she wanted her son to feel the desperate pain that her husband inflicted on her. George tried to rebel because he loved me so much. But his mother's power over him was gradually winning.

    Back home I got a temporary job to make enough money to fly to Las Vegas to be with my friend who was about to give birth. My job was at the corporate offices of Ginn's office Supply Company downtown. I was to file dirty razor-thin sheets of yellow paper in a tightly stuffed filing cabinet. The job was mindless and painful to my hands.

    I was constantly deep in thought about the situation with George who kept professing his love. On one phone call from him, somehow, his mother jumped in. That was strange; had she flown to Athens? She insisted that he hang up.

    Every evening after work I read the existentialists Andre Gide and Nietzsche, and I thought and wrote day and night about the meaning of life.

    All of this ruminating about my situation with George and life came to a head one day, while standing at my file cabinet. I suddenly concluded that I would will myself to "Love" George. It didn't matter that I didn't respect or like him much, all that mattered was Love, which meant to put all of my opinions aside and devote myself to the concept of Love, which meant to care more about the other, the object of my love, than I cared about myself, my opinions. I willed myself to surrender to the concept of Love, which must involve sacrifice.

    I was not a practicing Christian at the time. That came later. On this day it was only about Love.

    The very moment I suddenly resolved to surrender myself to Love, while standing at the file cabinet, I was miraculously transported to heaven! I was in a beautiful bright and blue place. I was so very happy, and I wanted to stay there forever. There were no people only a bright baby blue cloudless sky and the happy feeling. Nothing else in the world mattered, only to be able to stay there. I knew that the reason I was allowed there was because of my commitment to Love.

    Then, against my will, I returned to Ginn's and my file cabinet, and my sore fingers. Like trying to go back into a morning dream while it was still fresh, I was desperate to return to heaven, but all I could do was to try to remember the place. I attributed the experience to God and thanked Him.

    My relationship with George deteriorated. The threats from his mother to disinherit this weak young man, to deplete from him of all that kept him inflated, was more powerful than his passion for me.

    As disappointed as I was that my great sacrifice of self was not to be put in effect, I went to Las Vegas to help my friend with her newborn baby, and then joined the Peace Corps and became an art teacher in Sierra Leone. The next opportunity I had to go to Athens and see George, his mother had successfully wiped every ounce of innocence from his soul, the only thing I liked about him.

    Years later, I was presented with another young man who adored me, an American who for me was a combination of the four men I had been most fond of in my young life. That was so uncanny that I assumed God had sent him to me to pick-up my commitment to Love where I had left it, at Ginns.

    We married and together produced three children. During the next few decades I was given thousands of opportunities to put into practice the concept of surrendering my ego for Love's sake. I failed to reach this height many times, and often had to brush myself off and get up and try again. I never forgot about my visit to heaven. I hope that someday I may return to that beautiful happy place.

    Although the commitment to Love let me in, I know now why I couldn't stay. The visit was to be a foretaste. It was given to me to show me the real, ironic, and everlasting Power of Love. The irony of Love is that it requires us to shrink our egos, in order to become great. Like Jesus did on the Cross.

    I have since learned that it won't be how much money I earned, or how big my house was, or even how many grandchildren I had, but when the time comes, my credentials for re-admittance to that glorious heaven will be how well I fulfilled my commitment to Love.

    I have since learned that Jesus Christ is the perfect model for this commitment to Love, and I am grateful to have such a model to measure myself by and to aspire to.

    The power of Love overwhelms evil in all of its ugly forms. It is more powerful than uranium, more powerful than money. It is the only standard of measure for a life well lived. But it almost always comes at that highest cost.

    There is no room in this short and fast life for rancor, bitterness, or retaliation. "Let the dead bury the dead" means to allow those who want to spread hostility and bitterness try to destroy each other, but instead turn the other cheek, and pray for them and love them into returning to the land of the living, where the power of Love prevails, and where Jesus emerges from the tomb to take our hands and guide us to that beautiful blue heaven, where we can live happily forever after.

    Tuesday
    Apr042017

    ALIVE: Chapter 46 The Reunion 

    Aaron woke up at dawn that spring morning feeling energized and optimistic. It was the slave's day off. Pharaoh thought himself generous for giving the Hebrews one day free every fortnight to rest, when actually their restfulness benefited him tenfold. The Hebrews had not yet been told that God demanded Sabbath rest and this ignorance made their toil less tragic than it really was.

    Thoughts of his younger brother, Moses, swirled through Aaron's mind that morning washed clean of its black night. He hadn't thought about Moses in years, but lately he could think of nothing else. He had been reminiscing about how Pharaoh's soldiers had searched for Moses for days, but never found him. They eventually gave up. After all, who really cared if he killed a Hebrew?

    Aaron had been proud of his younger brother. Surely, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had blessed him by delivering Moses from death and the bonds of slavery directly into Pharaoh's closest orbit. Aaron often pondered what it must have been like to live in the palace with all those clean beautiful women, and all that sumptuous food and music!

    Forty years had gone by since Moses escaped. How strange to be thinking of him now. "If Moses can escape, so can I." said Aaron to himself while becoming infused with a spirt of courage. "I could go today! Perhaps I will find Moses in Midian. Do I remember an Egyptian mention that Moses was alive in Midian, or did I dream that? I will go to Midian to find out for myself. Even if I don't find Moses, it is still better than this life in chains!"

    Emboldened by his resolve to escape, Aaron began to fill a sack with food.

    Miriam, his sister, walked into the room still numb from her deep sleep. "What are you doing Aaron?" she said.

    "I am leaving; I am going away from Egypt to look for Moses."

    "Aaron, are you mad?! You can't just walk away. If you could, we all would do that. Besides, you are 83 years old! How far could you go on your own? Come to your senses Aaron. Start the stove for me while I make you breakfast. I made bread dough last night. It will be ready soon enough. Come, let's talk."

    "Miriam, no!"

    She knew it would be senseless to force him to stay, that escape was a yearning Aaron had been nurturing for years.

    "And what will I tell them tomorrow when they come looking for you?" she said.

    "Tell them that I went into the desert to die. I am an old man and no longer so useful. Miriam, tell them anything you want. I can't stay here another day. I must find Moses."

    While pleading his case, Aaron noticed how lovely Miriam looked for such a mature woman. Wisps of gray hair produced an aura around her leathered olive face with its high cheek bones and large wise green eyes. Aaron and Miriam had always been close. Even as a young girl, she was more like a motherly confidant than a big sister. He knew he would miss her terribly.

    "Let me make you bread to take, and then you can go."

    Aaron emerged from the house their family had inhabited for an hundred years as if for the first time. The familiar city took on a glow as if he was walking into the past, into a memory. Brimming with resolve and with fear he wanted to capture the scenes of the city that he would never see again.

    Aaron carefully slithered through the most populated Hebrew neighborhoods and arrived at the very fringe of the city. He managed to make himself invisible as he passed guard after guard.

    "Give me some credit for this!" exclaimed Perambula who indeed was fully responsible for Aaron's escape by blinding the guards which the angel carefully placed within the trajectory of the low morning sunbeam, and bringing to their minds gossip to spread while facing each other. Thus renegade Aaron managed to drift farther and farther from their clutches until he was well within the protective isolation of the wilderness.

    Days later, the last ounce of nostalgia spent, Aaron faced his new challenge of how to cross the Gulf of Acaba. Once on the other side, he knew he would be completely free of Pharaoh's tight grip on him. When he arrived at the shore, he found a busy port with fishing boats unloading their catch. He chose one, and asked if he could be taken to the other side. Once on the boat, Aaron marveled at how easy it had been to escape. He had never seen such a large body of water before and was astounded by the vastness of the sea, and the smell and feel of the silky salty air on his rough face. Having arrived, Aaron thanked his generous host who gave him some fish to take on his journey to Midian.

    Once on the other side, the challenge was how to find Moses in this vast territory. Aaron prayed to the God of Abraham to help him, ignorant that God cared more than he did that they meet. Every thought of Moses and of fleeing were planted in his mind by God himself. Had he known, Aaron would not have been so frightened, or so cautious.

    "Gracefeld, go help Perambula." said God. "Lead this man to Horeb (Sinai)."

    "Yes, my Lord." replied Gracefeld.

    Perambula picked up the signal that Gracefeld was on the way and was glad for the assistance. Aaron had been meandering from tree to tree sinking into the deepest part of the wilderness. It was difficult to be both protector and pathfinder.

    "Where have you been Gracefeld? This man obviously hasn't a clue of where to go. I can either guide him or ward off the animals, but I can't do both!"

    "I have been with Moses. Poor sore boys. I kept the predators away to give them peace in their healing. They are resting safely."

    "God wants them to meet at Mount Horeb." added Perambula.

    "Of course." replied Gracefeld, "The Mountain of God, where else? Aaron can travel faster without the family, but his journey is so much longer. I know Moses will want to stop there to show his sons the burning bush. Does Aaron know anything of Mt. Horeb? What will make him stop there?" Perambula flashed Gracefeld an expression of disbelief, that the angel could ask such an absurd question.

    "Okay, so who will guide the family if we are on Aaron-duty? said Perambula.

    "Firstoff," replied Perambula, "this week of rest gives Aaron time to reach Horeb. He is the one who needs our guidance most now. Moses will see Horeb in the distance, and is familiar enough with the place. They will be fine. Come Gracefeld, let's see if we can rush this man along. Did he bring water?"

    While the angels were discussing their mission, Moses and his family were still reeling.

    "Father, it has been three days and I still hurt so bad!" whined Gersam. Sepphora told Moses that they must stay put while Gersam was recuperating, and she was recuperating too. Sepphora, the daughter of a priest of Midian had never met God before. But after He nearly killed her husband, she had a newfound fear of this God, and a newfound concern over the what they would find in Egypt. She did not dare share her worries with Moses, only wondered if they should circumcise Eliezer too, or rather, when?

    "I know my son. Forgive me." confessed Moses, "Had we done this when you were eight days old, you would not be suffering now, and I would not have angered God. When I left my people and Egypt, I believed that I was leaving everything behind me, not just Pharaoh. I never lived as a Hebrew," and then Moses paused reflectively and added, "except by the covenant stamped on my own penis, which I never understood. Why would I care, why would anyone care that Abraham would be the father of nations? More unbelievable still, that his children would possess these lands. Those poor slaves could barely possess the mats they slept on. Forgive me my son, for my ignorance."

    "Father, when will you circumcise Eliezer?" said Gersam with a pinch of bitter malice folded into the sweet buttercream of desire for his protection, and of their own. Eliezer tried to hide because he knew that it must be his turn to meet the flint. Moses and Sepphora had already decided that they should circumcise Eliezer right away.

    Sepphora hollered, "Eliezer, come here, right now!"

    Trembling, Eliezer succumbed to his mother, and screamed as his brother had. The circumstance being very different, the reaction was too. Eliezer bore his pain nobly, proud to be accepted into the tribe of the people of the covenant about whom he knew so little.

    A week later Moses announced, "Tomorrow, we will set off again. Do you see that mountain over there? That is Horeb, the mountain where God spoke to me from the flaming bush. We will go there to show you my bush. Perhaps God will return and speak to me again. For now, let's pack up."

    That evening, as Moses laid down to sleep, thoughts of Aaron flooded his mind. How would he find Aaron? Would he even recognize him? Where could he go to to look for Aaron in this vast wilderness? As a mental exercise to help him fall asleep Moses tried to remember every time he had ever seen Aaron. Moses knew his family of birth, his parents and brother and sister, but he rarely saw them, certainly not in the last forty years in exile. How would he recognize him?

    The next morning the donkey was fully burdened again, and took it well as any decent donkey would. It was Gersam's turn to hold the donkey's rope. Fully recovered from his operation, Gersom grabbed the rope and lead the ass on the well-trodden path to Egypt. He held his head as high as the donkey's head was lowered to bear the weight, trusting his man-child.

    Moses walked alone ahead of the others, thinking and listening for God. He had walked this path many times while shepherding the flock to find green pastures, sometimes being gone from home many days, but it never took so long to reach Horeb as it had with his family in tow.

    Eliezer who was still sore, walked side by side with his mother in silence.The sons and Sepphora saw that they were walking towards a mountain, and wondered if Moses meant to take them over it or around it, but they didn't ask. Moses walked too far ahead for conversation clutching his staff and contemplating the whole concept of speaking with God.

    Perambula and Gracefeld used every means in their angelic powers to speed Aaron along so the brothers would arrive at the mountain at roughly the same time. As they grew nearer, the moment became imminent.

    Aaron was intrigued by one particular mountain before him and used that as his goal for days focusing on it as over time it grew from the size of his thumb to the size of a dog, and then a house, a pyramid, and finally there he was before its massive vertical rise.

    As he looked around him, Aaron was the first to spot a cluster of fellow travelers. He hadn't seen another human for days. Sitting on a boulder at the foot of the great mountain, Aaron wondered if he should run over to them, or wait to see if they would come towards him. The scorching heat from the noonday sun forced him to stay and wait.

    Perambula and Gracefeld were proud of their accomplishment. Bringing these two tiny flecks in this vast terrain together took angelic skill of the highest magnitude. God knew who He could trust to do the job and he was right. Perambula wondered if there would be a reward and what it could be. Gracefeld looked forward to the next challenge, which would be to guide the entire Hebrew population on its Exodus from Egypt.

    For Aaron, the image of the travelers became more clear. He could see a large man followed by a boy and a donkey, and then a woman and a boy. 'It must be a family on a journey to Egypt' thought Aaron.

    Moses saw the isolated man in the distance staring at him and his family. He instinctively knew the man was no threat to them by the way he sat still and open, curious.

    Gracefeld flew up and whispered into Moses' heart, "That man is your brother Aaron. God has sent him to you. Go to greet him."Moses was astonished at this revelation. He stood still for several moments staring at this figure in the distance. The distance that would soon close until the two brothers became as one instrument of God.

    Perambula echoed the introduction to Aaron who didn't stop for a moment to think, but instead rushed over to the Moses of all his hopes, his idol of a brother.

    Because Moses was more aware of God's need for this meeting than Aaron, who all along thought that his escape was self initiated, no human being on earth or in heaven or above the heavens was more flabbergasted to see the subject of his trek running towards him. If he hadn't been breathing so hard, Aaron surely would have been shouting.

    Instead, he heard the man Moses calling him as they got within earshot of each other. "Aaron! Aaron! My Aaron!" The two octogenarian brothers started to run as fast as any healthy old man could run, and as awkwardly .

    When finally the elderly brothers met, Moses hugged and kissed Aaron, who by then was reduced to tears. His sentiment was infectious causing Moses to grow teary eyed too. The embrace lasted only for a moment because both men wanted to take a good long look at each other. They peered deep into each other's faces for evidence of familiarity. Aaron saw hints of his father and of Miriam in Moses. Moses noticed his son Eliazer's dimple in Aaron's chin.

    While the brothers explored each other, the rest of the family caught up.

    "Sepphora, this is my brother. And Aaron, these are my sons Gersam and Eliezer."