Once upon a time, not so long ago, there lived a man who was not so different from you and I; well, that is if you are over sixty-five with graying hair, wrinkles and an ample belly. The man in our story lived a good life. He had a wife, a true partner for life. He had children and grandchildren who loved him. He had a fine home and enough wealth to be comfortable. He was a respected member of his community and he gave of his time and wealth to those who had less than himself. By all observable measure of a human life he should have been happy; and he was happy, but in some way, some how, there was some thing missing from his life.
One day the man decided it was time to consider this question of the thing that was missing from his life. Slowly he started to make changes in his life. He found a way to work less at earning a living. He took time to sit quietly and listen to the music that stirred his heart. Contemplation replaced action in his daily life. Slowly, ever so slowly, he began to explore the eternal questions that humans have considered since the beginning of human consciousness: Who am I? Why was I put on this earth? What will happen to me when I die?
One night the man had this dream. He sat on a great rock by the side of a flowing river. He saw that the water sparkled with every color of the rainbow. As he contemplated the beautiful water, he heard the sound of a walking stick: a tap, tap, tapping on the rock as a someone approached him. As the tapping came closer he heard the rustling of a long satin cloak and he smelled a sweet aromatic scent that seemed to come from the Garden of Eden. The man did not turn his head from the flowing river.
“Peace be upon you”, said the visitor.
“And upon you the same”, said the man.
“Do you know who I am”, inquired the visitor to his dream.
The man pondered until this thought came to his dream consciousness…he is the one who turns the thoughts of God to humans and the thoughts of humans to God… he answered, “yes, you are Elijah the prophet, the one who intercedes between God and humans.”
“You are right”, said the visitor, “I am Elijah, and I have been sent here for a very special purpose. God has heard the questions on your heart and in your mind. Because you have lived a life of love for family and your fellow humans less fortunate than yourself, you will be granted the answer to one question. What question is most in need of an answer?”
The man thought of the questions he had considered in his time of contemplation…Who am I? Am I simply human, or is there a spark of the divine in me? Why was I put on this earth? Is there something I am still to do in my life? And what happens to me when I die? Which question was most important he could not decide. The man sighed as he considered which question was most important.
The prophet Elijah smiled kindly as he considered the man’s dilemma. Finally, the prophet spoke again, “I can see that this is a difficult decision, one not easily made. Think about it for some time and I will return another night to your dreams”.
Then the man heard the rustling of the long satin cloak as Elijah rose to go. He heard the tap, tap, tapping of the walking stick going off into the distance. But the smell, like a mix of all of the scents from the Garden of Eden, seemed to linger in the bedroom after the man woke from his dream. In the early morning light he lay in bed still pondering the questions.
Now the man and his wife had a habit of sharing dreams when they woke each morning. As they lay together that early morning the man told his wife of his dream. Eagerly he asked her advise on which question he should ask.
“Do not worry my wonderful husband”, said the wife, “all will be for the best. The day is before us. Our grandchildren are coming for a visit. Let’s share our precious time with them in play and enjoying a good meal. Questions of the night can wait until the night returns”. So the man and his wife gave themselves over to the events of the day and neither thought for one moment on the question for God.
That night while the man was brushing his teeth before going to bed, his wife came to him and she whispered in his ear. He smiled and said, “What a treasure I have in you! That is exactly the question to ask. You have found the perfect way to phrase it; now, if only I can remember it when I have fallen asleep”. As he lay in bed waiting for sleep to come, the man repeated the question over and over.
It was not long before the man found himself by the stream of water again, and seated on the same great rock. He watched the beautiful, splashing water that shone with every color of the rainbow. And again he heard the tap, tap, tapping of the walking stick on the rock. He heard the rustling of the long, satin cloak, and there was the scent from the Garden of Eden. Elijah, the prophet, came and sat down next to him.
“Peace be upon you”, said the prophet.
“And upon you the same”, said the man.
For a long period of dream-time, the man and the prophet sat beside the beautiful flowing river. Then Elijah spoke , “well, now it is time. I can grant only one question. Which will it be?”
The man hesitated for a moment. He took a deep breath and he remembered in his dream world the words of his wise wife, “Is it possible, that is, may God grant, can you please tell me the story of my life: who am I, and why was I put on this earth, and what will happen when I die? If it pleases God, can you tell me the whole story of my life?”
For a moment all was silent except for the sound of the beautiful flowing water. Then Elijah threw back his head and began to laugh. He said: “I can see that you managed to get all of your questions into one! God is enjoying this just as much as I am. And I am certain that God will see to it that the whole of your life will be revealed to you.”
The man smiled as he heard the rustling of the satin robe and the tap, tap, tapping of the walking stick going off into the distance. But the smell, like the scent from the Garden of Eden, that sweet smell lingered after the man awoke in the early morning light from his dream.
It is said that after Elijah’s visit, the man never lost the scent from the Garden of Eden, and he never lost his passion to understand and communciate the sense of wholeness he experienced in his life. May the prophet Elijah visit your dreams this very night to hear your question for God… Peace be upon you.
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