"May Adonai bless you and protect you! May Adonai deal kindly and graciously with you! May Adonai lift up his countenance upon you and grant you peace!" (Torah, Numbers 6:24-26) And Jesus said, "Allow the little children to come unto me. Forbid them not, for of such is the Kingdom of God. Truly, I say unto you, unless you receive the Kingdom of God as a little child does, you shall not enter therein." (New Testament, Mark 10:14-16)

Sojourning at an Oasis Paradise

My purpose for living this life, and for writing this blog, is to understand the faith that links us to God. I wish to explore and discuss the reality at the heart of all of the world's religions. This is an immense task, but I know that God also has faith in us, trusting that we do desire the truth, as well as freedom, love and wisdom. Thus, as always, He meets us halfway. Even as God has given us individual souls, so we must each of us trace out an individual pathway to God. Whether we reside in the cities of orthodox religion, or wend our solitary ways through the barren wastelands, God watches over us and offers us guidance and sustenance for the journey.

Most of what you will see here is the result of extensive personal study, combined with some careful speculation. Occasionally, I may simply offer some Scripture or an inspirational text. I am a wide reader, and the connection of some topics and ideas to matters of faith and religion may not seem immediately obvious, but perhaps I may spell it out in the end... or maybe, you will decide that it was just a tangent. Anyway, I hope that you will find my meanderings to be spiritually enlightening, intellectually stimulating, or at least somewhat entertaining.

In the coming weeks and months, I intend to transcribe a series of essays that I wrote about 20 years ago in the hope that I might get them published. They represent the nucleus of my spiritual life and the focal point around which my wanderings revolve like an electron in an atom. I hope that they might eventually serve as a springboard for discussions about the common spiritual heritage of humanity. May we come together and embrace each other in peace.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A Pilgrim in the Rainbow Bazaar

May God (Baruch haShem) be patient with my wandering through his bazaar of beautiful gifts! His prophets offer so many finely crafted words, and mark the paths to heaven with such amazing signs that seem miraculous to the passers-by. I am dazzled by the lights and sounds that promise "the latest", or "the surest", or "the oldest", or "the quickest"... How can I possibly choose?

It is all I can do to keep in mind the goal of my desire, which is simply to find an image of my beloved to put in my pocket to remind me of the sweet time we spent together. I know that my beloved lives in a faraway land. The postmarks on her letters are so faded that I can hardly read them through the tear-stains I have inadvertently dropped on them. But I met her here one lovely day, when she touched my hand and whispered into my ear, asking me to meet her at her home for dinner some day. When I asked her where she lives, she laughed, saying that she dropped a photograph of herself somewhere in this bazaar, and that it has her address and directions written in her own hand on its back. I come here every day to search and try to find that photograph.

I still remember that day when she took me by the hand, and led me from the bazaar. We walked through the winding streets of the town, until we passed its gate and found ourselves wandering in the hills. The flowers smelled so sweet and the air so fresh, but they failed any comparison to her kisses and the fragrance of her hair. And yet, she was leaving for home that very day, and all I could do was to promise to come after her. She sends me letters once in a while, but I cannot read the language on the envelope. My only hope is to find the photograph that she dropped.

As I wandered between the stalls today, I met an old lady begging for coins. Her clothes were ragged, and she smelled of kitchen-smoke. One of her teeth was missing, but she smiled nonetheless. She tugged at my sleeve. "Mister, can you spare a coin?" she asked. "My daughter wants a stamp for her letter." The strangeness of it stopped me. She was not asking for anything for herself, not saying she was hungry, or needy in any other way... I felt my pockets, indeed I had a coin. I pulled it out and handed it over, saying "I'm looking for a photograph of my beloved lost somewhere in this bazaar. Have you seen it?" She looked at me closely. "That's odd," she said. "My daughter told me she lost her photo here long ago, and I've only just found it. Could this be what you're looking for?" She held out a battered and dirty square of paper. I could easily tell that it had been glossy before, but now the face was faded and scratched. There was writing on the back, but also smudged beyond deciphering. I studied the face again. "Maybe..." I began to think how to ask for a description, but the old woman grabbed my sleeve again and began pulling me toward the street. I almost pulled away, but my heart was pounding. Could it really be?

Once outside, the old lady spoke again. "She said you would be there, looking. Come with me. Dinner is cooking." She led me through the streets of my own town, the ones I had walked on since I was a child, but they hardly seemed familiar now. It was as if I was seeing them for the first time. She lives here? I asked myself. "But of course," the old lady said, as if I had spoken aloud. "She is as close to you as your own heart. She knows you go to the bazaar every day, but you never buy anything. You only go there to search for her picture. She told me where to find it, and to give it to you." I had to watch you for myself, to see if you were worthy, but I should have trusted her. She is wise beyond her years, that one." Then we came to a door, partly open, and I could smell the cooking... but there was something else in the air, a fragrance barely remembered. "Go on, Go on. She's waiting," the old lady urged me toward the door. "I've got my own places to go," and she turned and hobbled away back down the street.

As I opened the door, I could hear her quietly humming a melody to herself, and I knew I had come home at last.

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