HOME, SWEET HEAVEN INSTALLMENT #30

Chapter Twenty Seven

“Dinner’s on the table,” Terry called. When they were seated the empty chairs spoke eloquently of two missing people. “Where’s Miryam? Terry asked, and received blank stares in return. “And Moshe?”

“They went out for a ride,” Earl said. “Said it would be short, but that was over an hour ago.” He looked at Ellery. As the others followed his stare, Ellery’s countenance fell and stomachs dropped around the table. Suddenly the dinner had lost its appeal.

Ellery rose from the table. “I’ll go look,” he said, and rushed out the door with his coat in his arm. The others heard the crack of his bike’s exhaust. Several eyes followed his back as it diminished down the road into the distance.

Ellery had guessed right about the route they had taken.. Half an hour later he found their motorcycle as he rounded a bend. In fact, he had to swerve to avoid it, as it lay on its side in the middle of the highway. Ellery hit the brakes hard and slowed, easing up to the head of a gravel road to the right. A hundred feet farther up the road a deer also lay on its side. It was dead. He looked around for signs of Moshe and Miryam, finally seeing the couple beneath a large tree. Miryam was lying down as Moshe leaned over her, attempting to administer some kind of help. He saw Ellery and beckoned him over.

As he approached the couple, Ellery saw that Moshe was crying. “I hit a deer,” he said. “It happened so quickly I couldn’t do anything. Miryam’s in trouble, Ellery. I can’t lose her.” His weeping became desperate.

“It’s okay,” Ellery said. I’m sure you couldn’t help it, so don’t blame yourself. Where’s her injury?”

“Her right leg is all torn up. She may have broken a bone in her leg or hip. But she’s so quiet! She was talking a while ago, sounded normal, and then she kind of fell asleep. She may have a head injury too. Aw gee! Why’d I have to . . .”

Miryam chose that moment to stir. She opened her eyes to look at Moshe. “Are you okay, Moshe?” she asked.

“Me okay? Me? I’m just fine, not that I deserve to be. How about you? You got me real worried. Are you still sleepy?”

“No. Not so much.” She struggled to get up, but Moshe firmly held her down. “What about the bike?” she asked.

“I don’t know. The bike’s not that important, not next to you.” Ellery assessed the couple. In actuality, Moshe didn’t look all that great. Both legs of his Levi’s were shredded and red, bloody flesh peeked out from the tears in the cloth. “Got a good dose of road rash yourself, I see,” he told Moshe. Miryam looked at him and put her hand to her mouth in horror.

“Yeah,” Ellery said. “You two are a fine-looking pair. Seems to me you’re just perfectly ready to get hitched. Would be a wedding to tell your grandkids about. Problem is, we can’t take you to the hospital, Miryam. Not after what Earl’s told me about what they do with sick folks. I don’t want to see you carted off to a death camp, and I’m sure that Moshe would back me on that.”

“Maybe you can go back and get us a vehicle that Miryam can ride in.”

“Sure thing. Here, take this and wrap her up in it. She’s probably still in shock.” He removed his coat and handed it to Moshe.

Returning back to the road, Ellery was prepared to steer the bike into a ditch and write it off, but in lifting it back upright he saw the deer must have hit the bike a glancing blow, enough to kill it and for Moshe to lose control, but damaging very little. He walked the bike to where his own stood and, leaving it parked there, got on his motorcycle and headed back for the house in a big hurry. The speedometer needle hit the hundred mph mark several times on the trip home.

They were waiting on the porch as he entered the driveway, but Henry took one look at his lone figure and ran down the stairs before he arrived and headed off to his old SUV. It was already moving as Earl and Ellery ran after it and piled into the front seat. Ellery returned first with the motorcycle, having managed to re-start it and drive it back. Henry’s car followed soon after with Moshe and Miryam inside. Dinner remained on the table, cold and forgotten.

Several anxious days passed before the extended family began to assume that Miryam’s head injury wasn’t life-threatening or permanent. Happiness prevailed when that was settled. Whatever else that was going on in the world was insignificant next to Miryam’s recovery.

One evening during her recovery Wisdom showed up at Miryam’s bedside. “Still a little sore, I see,” She said.

“I’m still alive,” Miryam replied. “I thought You wanted us to do this thing,” she added. “Why this?”

“I do want you to do ‘this thing’, Miryam. You and Moshe got banged-up some, but look how I preserved the motorcycle!”

Miryam couldn’t help but laugh at that. She stored it in her memory to share with the others later. “No, but really, did we do something wrong?”

“No, at least nothing serious. Moshe was getting cocky on the bike. He needed to shed some of that before the important trip. He’ll be a little more appreciative of you after that last little excursion. But those weren’t the main issues. You both need to develop more faith in Us. I don’t want to scare you, but there are some pretty heavy moments in store for you in the near future, and you’re going to need some mental preparation to match.”

“Oh-oh. Now you have me on edge. What do You have in mind – the end of the world?”

“I’ll make sure you both can handle it. No, it won’t be the end of the world. Not exactly. But it might seem like it . . . well, whatever. Just get well. We love you. ‘Bye now.”

For the next several minutes Miryam pondered the emotional grenade that Wisdom had tossed her way before leaving. Then she recognized it for what it was: another call to exercise faith. She began to relax and soon fell asleep.

Chapter Twenty Eight

Moshe and Miryam were married on a spring Sunday at Henry and Terry’s home by Pastor Arnold Bliss, an ordained minister who had lost his Church to the city fathers, who then had sold it to a group of entrepreneurs who turned it into a wholesale marijuana outlet. The loss was minimal, as the Church had been extensively vandalized two years ago, and the congregants driven to home worship, meeting at a different location each week. As the home for this Sunday’s worship service was at Henry’s, the entire congregation was there to witness the joyful event.

“That was rather rude, don’t you think?” One of the guests said to another after Moshe and Miryam abruptly departed for their honeymoon directly after the wedding ceremony, their destination happening to be Miryam’s room down the hall. The woman with whom she was conversing had a considerably sunnier personality and responded accordingly. “Not at all. I remember – vividly – my own marriage to Charlie, and how I was thinking that the reception was endless and all I wanted to do was grab my new mate and make it happen.”

“Really, Alice, was that kind of talk necessary?” They drifted apart after a brief but uncomfortable silence. Poor Adam, Alice thought, looking at the woman’s husband. Poor, poor Adam.

As Moshe and Miryam were enjoying their honeymoon, a continent away the Pope was having a heated discussion with a number of his bishops and cardinals, many of whom had arrived at his bidding from their homelands scattered about the world. “But how can you possibly reconcile Christianity with the Muslim faith?” one cardinal brought up for the fifth time that day to what appeared to be deaf ears. “It’s a monotheistic religion all right,” he continued, “but it’s monotheistic to a fault. When they speak of one God, they mean it so literally that they exclude the possibility of a divine Son and a divine Holy Spirit. In other words, your holiness, there cannot be a Trinitarian Godhead. And they aren’t about to back down on that issue, believe me.

“I hear you,” the Pope said over the murmurs of others. “I heard you before. And quiet down, people. I can hardly hear myself think. If they remain firm on that, it’s just a concession we’ll have to make to them as the price we’ll have to pay for world peace.”

“I wonder what God will have to say about that,” one bishop murmured under his breath. The Pope, who was endowed with exceptionally sharp hearing , picked up on it.

“God?” the Pope responded. “If God really existed, the world wouldn’t be in the mess it’s in now. You know as well as I do that it’s our responsibility to maintain the myth of God to the masses of the world for the sake of world stability. It won’t do us any good to be caught up in the belief ourselves.”

The bishop who had commented was certainly caught up in the belief that God did indeed exist, having personally experienced the hand of God in his life. The Pope’s statement shocked him, as it was the first time that his superior had openly expressed his denial of God. Now he wondered what had happened to his beloved religion that had allowed an atheist to assume the lofty position as representative of Christ on Earth. But he kept his thoughts to himself, suddenly realizing that he must be in the minority. Although he privately chastised himself for his cowardice, the enormity of what he had just heard paralyzed him from speaking out about it.

“As a matter of fact,” the Pope continued, “in this modern era Christians have been quite thoroughly weaned from the Bible. They’ll readily accept a doctrinal statement from the Church that’s more all-encompassing than the narrow Biblical concept of there being only one path to heaven. The Church urgently needs to extend her reach beyond the Christian and Muslim communities to all the world’s religions for the sake of world peace. Look at how little our own Christian flock understands what Scripture says of God. Or even cares.”

“Well, maybe the Christians may not know what’s in their Holy Book, but the Muslims certainly do,” another bishop said. “I don’t think a statement of faith contradictory to the Quran will wash with them.”

“I do,” the Pope said. “Think of how contradictory the Quran is with itself, advocating both peace and violence at the same time. With the proper wording, we can easily get past that tiny little hurdle.”

Then he got to the heart of the matter. “We need to place more emphasis on the material world, minimizing thoughts of heaven or spiritual intangibles. What we really need to do is get in line with GLOW’s agenda. Look at what this magnificent man has already accomplished! And see how he’s been received by people of all faiths! Think how we can help by reconciling all the world’s religions – we’ll accomplish nothing less than the restoration of the original Babel, and indeed there will at last be nothing preventing mankind from pursuing every dream, every thought, and every delight that his rich, fruitful imagination can produce!”

“What about Israel?” another bishop pressed. “They’ve been clamoring for the right to build a new temple in Jerusalem.”

“What about it?” the Pope responded, irritated with what to him was an extraneous comment. “Let them build it. Since the Palestinians got so thoroughly trampled, they’re not likely to put up a fuss. And don’t talk to me about including Jews in our policy of thorough ecumenism. They’ll put up with anything we decide to do if they know what’s good for them.”

Within weeks the Catholic Church announced its position of tolerance and welcoming acceptance of all creeds and faiths within the vast community of mankind. To prove that new and kinder attitude, they published in all the world’s media their statement of faith, one in which the person of GLOW was prominently honored. GLOW responded by honoring the Church in a widely-publicized celebration held in the Vatican.

A major development that emerged from this celebratory gathering was another document, signed jointly by GLOW and the Pope, stating the Church’s support of GLOW’s confirmation of Israel’s covenented right to exist, a right that included Israel’s access to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem for the purpose of establishing a new temple. One item in the document that received much enthusiastic media attention was the formalization of the world-embracing Common Economic System, abbreviated to CES, its main feature the ubiquitous mark that symbolized patriotic obeisance to GLOW. CES promised to rid the world of the numerous curses by which the underworld had plagued modern society: theft of property and identity, money laundering and illegal transactions of every dark sort, and hoarding. CES made perfect sense to everyone except a tiny segment of society, those malcontents labeled Christian Fundamentalist Terrorists.

The peace in Israel imposed by GLOW led to the desire on the part of the rabbinical staff to forge ahead with the construction of a new temple, which had been a national desire for over a millennium. In synagogues the prophet Ezekiel’s vision of a temple was quoted often, particularly selected passages of his Chapter 40 which was written while Ezekiel was still captive in Babylon:

“In the five and twentieth year of our captivity, in the beginning of the year, in the tenth day of the month, in the fourteenth year after the city was smitten, on the selfsame day, the hand of the Lord was upon me, and brought me there. In the visions of God brought he me into the land of Israel, and set me upon a very high mountain, on which was a structure like a city on the south. And he brought me there, and, behold, there was a man, whose appearance was like the appearance of brass, with a line of flax in his hand, and a measuring reed; and he stood in the gate. And the man said unto me, Son of man, behold with thine eyes, and hear with thine ears, and set thine heart upon all that I shall show thee; for to the intent that I might show them unto thee art thou brought here. Declare all that thou seest to the house of Israel. And, behold, a wall on the outside of the house round about, and in the man’s hand a measuring reed of six cubits long by the cubit and an handbreadth; so he measured the breadth of the building, one reed, and the height, one reed. Then came he unto the gate which looketh toward the east, and went up its steps, and measured the threshold of the gate, which was one reed broad; and the other threshold of the gate, which was one reed broad. And every little chamber was one reed long, and one reed broad; and between the little chambers were five cubits, and the threshold of the gate by the porch of the gate within was one reed.”

 

While some rabbis would continue with the details presented in the remainder of the chapter, most would stop short after a few samples and exhort their congregants, saying in effect that since God had provided them with such minute details, many of which could apply only to the temple that hadn’t yet been built, did it not behoove His people to respond by implementing this great vision? This message, repeated often in diverse locales, brought the nation together in a unique way to fulfill Ezekiel’s vision.  

The nation of Israel commenced immediately with the construction of their Third Temple, working at a feverish pace as if its completion was a national emergency.

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