Part 1: Love

Chapter 1 

“I wish I could show you, when you are lonely or in darkness, the astonishing light of your own being.” ~Hafiz

“I’m hungry,”  Was his first thought.  The grass tickled his neck, pestering him out of sleep each time he tried dozing off.  He lay with his back to the earth, facing the wide expanse of southern California sky, which had just started to dim into the pink and purple hues marred by grey smog, that beckoned of the coming of night.

It was still hot, but a stirring of breeze that marked the beginning the yearly return of the San Andreas winds made it very comfortable to be outside in the backyard.  Images of his afternoon came rushing back:  His forehead still pulsed from a triangular tearing of rooftop shingle that struck during the “ninja star” fight between camps of the house-tribe and the garage-tribe.

The broad green leathery leaves of the magnolia tree popped next in his head.  His favorite part about having a tree-house was staring at the glare the Sun made on those leathery leaves, and now it was nearly the end of Summer, the largest flower buds he’d ever seen were emerging alongside, like the stem of a sword growing from its helm.

Oren’s heart melted.  He loved being in his tree house most of all.  He wondered if the little green bugs with luminescent wings were going to be up near the tree house soon since it was almost evening.  But now he was resting in the grass, with a swollen forehead, and he was hungry.  Where had all his friends gone to play next?

A giggle bubbled up as another image popped in his head:  Dod Rehavia was in town visiting from Greece, they were kicking a soccer ball around this morning and Rehavia suddenly stopped, his bare foot covered in dog poop.  The game was over, and he had to keep himself from laughing as his uncle hobbled on one foot and one heel to go wash himself off in the hose.

Hungry.

What about Safta Sara?  Food easy for a 6-year-old to assemble wasn’t always accessible in the house where Oren lived, but he knew that his kind elderly neighbor would always have a snack for him.  She must have had an endless supply of bananas, vanilla ice cream, chocolate syrup and rainbow sprinkles, because whenever he showed up it was suddenly time for a banana split.

The boy sat up in the grass, slightly disoriented.  Sara’s house was just a short walk away, out the front door, across the lawn to the house immediately to the left of his.  He opened the screen and knocked on the door.  He usually didn’t have to ring the door bell.    As promised, the door opened and there stood Safta Sara.  She was like an adopted grandma.  “Oh, Hi!” She said, “Come in!”

Sara wasn’t much taller than the 6-year-old boy standing expectantly at her doorstep.  Her wrinkled face was weather-burned and olive-colored, but she was upright, spritely and always kind.  “Are you hungry?  Do you want a banana split?”

Oren nodded silently, his eyes wide, voice daring not to say anything.  “Ok,” she said casually and moved towards the kitchen from the living room, “How’s school? What grade are you in now?”  “I finished first grade!” Oren said, “But it’s still Summer vacation.  Abba has us do second grade workbooks to get ready before school starts.”

The prize was suddenly sitting before him, in an ovular bowl.  The first, cool, creamy bite delighted his synapses and slid quickly down his throat.  Relief.  Something sweet and yummy in the tummy.

As Oren continued to eat, Sara enjoyed conversation.  “Is there anyone at school that you really like?  A girl, perhaps?”  Oren shook his head.  “I don’t know what that means.”  “Oh,” Safta Sara said kindly, “You don’t know what liking somebody means?  Well, is there anyone at school who when you see them you feel a little differently inside, like it feels good to look at them?”

Oren was suddenly there.  At school, on the large cement play yard, benches marking the square perimeters of a host of evenly spaced trees, which dwarfed the buildings of Erwin Street Elementary school.  Then she appeared:  blonde pony tail, quiet and walking slowly in triangular formation with two other girls who were like silhouettes to her brilliance.  He knew from class that her name was India.  What a cool name!  Soon after, to his delight he discovered that India lived on the other side of the railroad tracks from him.  Every time he played there, he would climb the hill to her fence and wait.  He could actually see her sometimes playing in her forest-like backyard.  But all he knew about her was that she was quiet, that she loved horses and that she lived nearby.  They never talked, probably not even once.

Oren’s heart sank, Sara’s kind face was still looking at him and noticed him shaking his head.  “No, you never felt that way?”  The 6-year-old boy shook his head again, his heart beating fast.  Like the moment when Sara asked if would like some ice cream, he dared not speak for fear of giving away the pitiful truth.

Sara studied his face lovingly.  “Do you have any friends at school yet?”  Oren shook his head again, a huge knot started to build in the child’s belly, and then he finally blurted out: “We’re different! Everything about us is different!  Our language is different!  Our holidays are different!  Why do we have to be different?”

Sara took a deep breath.  “I saw you playing with some boys earlier.”  The boy shook his head, “They only like to play war.”  The mark on his forehead suddenly started pulsing again, branded by the flying projectile sent from the enemy camp on the garage roof.

There was long pause.  The banana split was nearly gone, and the boy suddenly felt like maybe he had done something wrong.

“We are different.” Sara said matter of factly, finally breaking the silence.  “I don’t want to be different!”  “We are different,” Sara continued, “Even our calendar is different.  Do you know what day it is today?”  “It is Friday,” said the boy, sounding like more of a question than an answer. “Yes, and tonight starts Shabbat.  Will you have Shabbat dinner at home?”  The boy nodded.

“We are different.  A new day starts at night, not in the morning like for most people.  We do have different holidays that your friends don’t understand.  Do you know why?”  The boy shook his head again.

“Let me tell you a story.  Come back and have banana splits whenever you want, we’ll talk and I’ll tell you stories, okay?”  The boy was too transfixed in his feelings to understand.  He was falling.  What was this feeling?  “Relief,” came a silent answer, although he had no idea from where or what it really meant.

“So, why does a new day start at night for us, Safta Sara?  Does it mean we’re from the devil?”  The boy’s heart was completely open, completely trusting, unafraid to speak what he was really feeling anymore.

The kind old lady’s eyes narrowed, holding his heart with all her might.  “When everything is dark and all seems lost, it is only the start of something new.  It is too easy to call the morning Sun new – God is doing all the work!  When everything seems darkest, you find the light inside of you and only then can a new day begin.”

Another long pause.  It seemed a timeless eternity.  “Are you ready?” Came Safta Sara’s voice, which seemed more faint and from a distance.  The boy managed to stammer a nod.

Chapter 2

“Find the love you seek, by first finding the love within yourself. Learn to rest in that place, your true home within.” ~Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

IN THE BEGINNING

In the beginning, the heavens and the earth were void and without form.  Yet they contained power, a power that was never born and can never be destroyed.  This power is known as water, because it fits any shape, any time, any space, any dimension, any plane, and any circumstance.

This power is known as “the deep.”  In this great nothingness there was no such thing as up or down, small or large, before or after, but yet all of creation was contained in it, even your body and everything you have ever known or will ever know.  All of creation already existed, but in a formless void.

When you stand and face the North, you are facing the direction in the cosmos from whence you came.  Turn your body North and you face the deep – that which is both nothingness and omnipresence.  Just like rolling a ball down a hill, all things seek their lowest point.  The oceans fill with waters and become deep, only because they are lowest places on the Earth.  This is called gravity or magnetism.  The deep is magnetically attractive and all things seek it, that is why a compass always points its needle to the North.

If you ever find yourself in a time when all seems lost, never call it death.  The beginning teaches us that death, nor hopelessness have any right to exist.  There is no such thing as death, for even if the the very earth itself should implode, if you truly understand what was present in the beginning, there will always be hope – a chance for something new to be born.  This is why a new day starts not during the rising of the Sun, but only in darkness on the face of the deep.

In the beginning, there was consciousness.  Consciousness was resting perfectly comfortably but suddenly was first to wake up and wonder where it was.  It could not find anything.  It could not find the front of anything because nothing had a behind.  It could not find the short of anything because nothing was long.  It could not find the end of anything because nothing had yet a beginning.

After not being able to find anything, Consciousness realized he was alone and said, “I am the Alpha, the letter ‘A’ in the alphabet, because I am in the beginning.”  Now, for the first time, Consciousness had something to play with, the letter “A.”   Consciousness began to move on the face of the deep, singing “Ahhhhhh, I am He, Aleph, letter ‘A.”

If you are ever lonely or marching forth single-handedly into something new, you can share in this song because you are walking in the footsteps of the One who created you.  It doesn’t matter if you are a boy or a girl, part of your inheritance from the creator was the right to always walk in his footsteps.

Then Consciousness suddenly stopped in the middle of his Song, and he said, “I have something to play with and a song to sing, because I have created something.  I am a creator!!!  I am a father!!!  I will call myself ‘AvRahm’ because I am now a Father!  My first child is the sound of “A.”  That is why this sound is always the first sound of every alphabet in the world.

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