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At 5:45 A.M., I was jolted awake by this dream:

For over one year I’ve been preparing to join a study tour abroad. Hours of research, procuring special clothing, and a suitcase have filled my free time. The morning of my departure arrives. I’m excited as I lock my suitcase and hurry outdoors to meet the cab that will drop me off at the airport. My tickets are all in order. As we near the airport, my heart plummets: I’ve forgotten my passport, still sitting in the bottom drawer of my desk. I’m frantic.

This glimpse within my psyche reveals considerable activity. The over one year corresponds to the length of time I’ve spent in hospice, blogging new learning processed through Hours of research: significant authors, dreams, and discoveries outside my study windows and during short walks in the neighborhood. 

The buzz is all about the study tour abroad, a faraway place I’ve never experienced. Nor has anyone else, save for glimpses mystics have experienced, in all times, around the world. Travel to this realm calls for meticulous preparation.

Special clothing alludes to my persona, made comely, through continuous Twelve-Step work that ferrets out the unacceptable in my psyche and disposes of them. The suitcase, a container for the feminine, one that I could manage, would hold these garments.  

I’m excited denotes turbulence in my psyche, of such severity as to splinter much-needed focus at this critical time of departure. Among my airline tickets, there is no passport. I’mnot going anywhere.

And this is true today, despite past blogs referencing my eventual demise and the imminence of Eternal Life. This hasn’t happened—such expressions are veiled expressions of my willfulness. I’ve much to learn about patience and humility.

Restoration specialists use precise tools to remove accretions of paint-overs, dust, and discoloration.

Such a specialist in the academic world is Reza Aslan, author of Zealot – The Life and Times of Jesus (2013)—research, his tool to fashion the historical Jesus within first-century Palestine, a large swath of the Roman-occupied Middle East filled with messiahs and Jewish bandits, and their subsequent executions.

Aslan’s skill as a writer enhances this narrative. Each chapter’s accompanying notes, index, bibliography, maps, and chronology facilitate the readers’ tracking and amplifying his conclusions. And they are startling, in some instances major corrections to my sense of Jesus, illiterate day laborer and itinerant preacher with his followers. The violent backdrop of this story bristles with suspicion and terror—a world, like our own.

Roman history only records Jesus’s birth in 4 B.C.E – 6 C.E., and his crucifixion and death as a seditionist at the hands of Pontius Pilate in 30 – 33 C.E. In its aftermath, a handful of Jesus’s followers banded together beneath a portico in the Temple’s outer court to remember and share the story.

Further complicating this incipient picture of Jesus comes Paul of Tarsus in 37 C.E., self-proclaimed as the “first Apostle.” His preaching and letters to Hellenistic communities clashed with the “unsophisticated” Church of Jerusalem, then, headed by James, the brother of Jesus, another surprise.

For decades, oral tradition continued carrying Jesus’s story until 70 C.E when Mark first wrote his Gospel expressed in rudimentary Greek; the other Gospels Mathew and Luke, written separately from each other, between 90 and 100 C.E.; and John’s with a mystical bent, between 100 and 120 C.E. Among them, differences abound. Later during those first centuries, what others thought they had heard became woven into other varied canonical and non-canonical texts collected by copyists.

As the story of Jesus spread, so did the need to downplay his ignominious death on the cross and to cookie-cutter a more presentable Jesus for the Christian Church, thus its politicization under the fourth-century Emperor Constantine. But what Aslan produces is a zealous adherent of Torah teachings and practice—Jesus of Nazareth, caught within the cross-hairs of Imperialistic Rome and its sycophants in first-century Jerusalem. His spirit and teaching live on—it’s still about conversion of the heart.

“Time unused and only endured still vanishes, as if time itself is starving, and each day is swallowed whole, leaving no crumbs, no memory, no trace at all”—So wrote Elisabeth Tova Bailey, author of the memoir, The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating (2010).

Once the author realized the debilitating implications of her chronic illness, with brief remissions tanking into relapses with hospitalizations and painful therapies, she took stock: she still had a need to be useful; she still had her keen mind, and with it, engaged in snail research, even publishing the results of her findings. From her fruitful imagination, she also composed short stories for academic journals.

Bailey’s productivity, under such handicaps, empowers me to do likewise, given the increasing symptoms of my terminal illness since its November 2019 diagnosis. At the time, I remembered feeling overwhelmed, then deciding to enlarge my hospice experience through daily blogs on heartwhisperings.com. Well-practiced in writing,

I would have company. I began, one word at a time, the continuing gift of my Inner Writer. Any subject was grist for the mill, given the altered perspective on my life, and slowly I could type ADL with RA without a miss-strike.

Change of seasons, prayers, holidays, Covid-19 and so much more have left traces of new learning upon my blog, despite scratching unlikely surfaces for material.

Never could I have imagined the tinge of yellow shimmering the forsythia shrub next to my front porch, but it is happening, and will probably produce another blog. LIFE is unstoppable until it stops. In the meantime, like Elisabeth Tova Bailey, I’ll continue dropping crumbs, as given to me to share.

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