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Excerpt for Yeshua ~ My Missing Years ~ An Official Autobiography by , available in its entirety at Smashwords




Copyright © 1984;2018 Watkins & Son; HouseOfTheRisenSon.org

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.

First Edition: May 2018

Printed in the United States of America

ISBN: 978-1-387-78261-1





Preface


You are about to take a journey with one considered to be the world's greatest teacher by more people in the world than perhaps any other in our recorded history -if only by mere fact that His teachings have not only survived 2000 years, they have never been more prevalent than today with no signs of slowing down making Him also the World’s Most Famous Son- and have an opportunity to look at what made Him such a remarkable Human Being.

Since no claims are made, requests for proof of this story will never be honored or offered, and perhaps best received by you, the reader, with the outlook, “Yes, I wasn’t there, and in a world of infinite possibility there is no way I could verify even to myself that it didn’t happen something like this.”


As to how then was this story penned? Perhaps a quote from
Co-Author Gary Watkins is in order:

“In Star Wars you've probably noticed George Lucas always begins; ‘A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...’, yes?

Why you ask? Simple …he wrote it all from memory.”


MyMissingYears.com

HouseOfTheRisenSon.org


“Imagination is more important than knowledge.”

- Albert Einstein




















Be still and know I AM, God.”




Except where ye shall become as a small child,
shall Ye not enter the Kingdom of Heaven”


-1-

“Yes, Rabbi. But who knows from God now?”

“We do. Through the Scriptures, my son.”

“But what of the prophets...before the Scriptures?”

“They knew also from God.”

“But how, Rabbi? How? How did they know?”

“God spoke. God spoke to them in their stillness.”

We sat in the cool of Ezekiel’s main room. A pillar of sunlight beamed through the front window on the dark earthen floor and illuminated a row of shelves my father had built for his wife to store the family bowls. His home always smelled sweet of honey and cloves, and he worked at the heavy wooden table with his scrolls spread before him. He was old, older than his years and, I remember thinking that his hands resembled the parchment of his scrolls. His long hair and beard practically hid his worn face. He was a large man, but no longer strong. In the semi-darkness his small eyes appeared black. They were always sad and very wet, and in conversation he often weighed his thoughts so carefully that he did not look at you when he was speaking.

I sat cross-legged on the bench across from him, the same as I had done for many hours while Ezekiel, with solemn, rhythmic voice, had taught me to read. He had then offered private lessons and, with my mother’s quiet coaxing, convinced my father that I should come three times a week.

“But why does God not speak to us now?”

“He does. Through the Scriptures.”

“Yes, Rabbi. I know that we know through the Scriptures. But those who wrote the Scriptures knew. They knew before there were Scriptures. The great prophets knew.”

“They knew from God.”

“Yes, exactly. They knew from God and we know from the Scriptures....”

A faint smile shifted under his great beard as I continued.

“They knew from our Father Himself, and we must read the Scriptures to learn. Who knows from God now? Why is there no one who knows from God now?”

“I understood your question.” He smiled. He seldom revealed his amusement, but I know from his thoughts that, in some strange way, my questions pleased him. In his childhood had he considered such things himself. Long had he pondered the ways of the Lord, questioned His judgment, like a student questioning his master, and he was pleased to find someone else who would question. He once said that I would be a great rabbi some day. Ezekiel had three daughters and one son, who was younger than myself, and he hoped I would take his place if he lived that long. He also secretly planned that I might marry his youngest daughter, even though she was two years older than I.

“All learning, all knowing is from the God within,” he continued.

“We are fortunate in having the Scriptures. But they are only a guide. Knowing God must come from within.”

As always, the conversation rambled like a goat’s path. I knew what he was saying, but he never answered my question. He did not know. He did not know from God. He knew from God through the Scriptures. That was different. Perhaps no one knew from God.

“I understand, Rabbi,” I said.

“You are blessed, my son, blessed.”

I was not sure. He said this often, but I was not sure at all.

-2-

The next morning I spoke with my mother before lessons.

"And so, everyone is a child of God?"

"Yes, everyone."

"So you are God's daughter...?"

"You could say that."

"And father is God's son?"

"Yes."

"And I am His son?"

"Yes. More so than most."

"Why do you say more?"

"Because you are...gifted, special."

"So, all are gifted."

"Yes, but you more than others."

"How is that?"

"You are gifted to be aware... to care for others."

"That is natural."

"Perhaps. It is your way. But not everyone's."

"Rabbi says that is God's way."

"That is so. And so it is yours."

"And yours," I said.

"Perhaps," she sighed. "But not everyone's..."

"I know. People worry so. They seem to feel...abandoned."

"Abandoned? That's quite a word for a young man."

"Well it's true. It's how they seem,...

You do not feel that way, do you Mother?"

"Me? Heavens no!" She gazed thoughtfully through the dark room toward the bright frame of the doorway. “No. I do not.” She said. “It is we who abandon Him.”

She was preparing bread. She had a mix of herbs and seeds which were special to our family. I had watched her hands the whole while, kneading, with love, the round flat dough, cutting the edges with a long thin board, smooth from years of wear, from my father's family before us, and she was at peace with herself. Her hands were strong and quick, yet graceful and feminine. When they were still, they reminded me of small birds resting; when she was busy, they reminded me of birds in flight.

"But why, Mother? Why would they abandon Him?"

She dusted the flour from her board and hung it on the wall.

"Abandon is a strong word," she said wiping her hands on her apron cloth. "I think more...they just lose their way. They take wrong roads."

"Then I understand," I said. "I do that. I get on wrong roads sometimes." I thought of times when I was small and used to search the sky for God's face.

"Really?" She glanced at me with both amusement and surprise.

"Sometimes," I said. "The way I used to watch the sky."

"Oh yes," she laughed. "So you did. I had forgotten that."

"But it is true? We are all God's children?"

"Yes."

"Even the Romans?"

"Even the Romans," she whispered. "But don't tell anyone."

"You know, Mother, I do not think most people know this. Otherwise, they would not worry so."

"The Rabbi has told them. But they forget," she said. "They are too troubled."

"Yes. They are too troubled," I said. "Mother?"

"Yes?"

"Who will tell the Romans?"

"I do not know," she said, looking far away again. "I do not know."

-3-

One morning the Romans came on horseback and drew Zacharias out of his house. They beat him in the street and dragged him off to the stockades. In those years he was my dearest friend. We had talked many evenings along the stream at the edge of town, and in his workshop, while he was making sandals or mending leather. Occasionally he would get a good job repairing harness. In his youth he had wandered far and wide so he knew many things of the world.

He had helped me a great deal with my problem. In fact, he was the one who broached the subject.

"You are very aware, friend. I have seen you watching the villagers. It must be very confusing to you?"

The question in itself did not surprise me, I had seen Zacharias watching me; but I was somewhat surprised that he had said anything at all. No one I knew, except my mother, ever discussed such things. I was eight at the time.

Zacharias was a confirmed realist. He saw things as they were. They neither disturbed him, nor pleased him. For example, I once asked him if he were looking forward to the holiday feast, "I only look forward to what I'm doing," he said matter-of-factly. "The future will take care of itself."

I viewed things differently in time. Everything which occurred, everything which was spoken or done, I would see within a span of thousands of years in my mind, both past and forward. Thus, I would sometimes see events which were devastating or tragic to others, as being momentary. This did not confuse me at all. I knew that it was both right and important to see things in time. Otherwise, one could become upset by even the most predictable occurrences. I once knew an elderly man who became ruined by the death of his wife. She suddenly became ill for no visible reason and was gone within twenty-four hours. If he had been able to see the event in time, he would have seen her dying in relation to all people dying, throughout time. But because he did not, he saw his whole life as lost and soon expired also. "You are right, Zacharias," I replied. "I do not know why some people seem to understand and others do not. Some are healthy while others are ill; some are happy while others suffer; some live long while others die young."

"I know you wonder. But it is God's way."

"Then that's what I want to understand, God's way. I want to know why I can sometimes see when others cannot."

"Because you are blessed," he said. He was cutting a small piece of donkey hide.

"Yes, but why?"

"You will find out some day, if you are supposed to."

He had been to a protest meeting. A small group of men in the city had met to complain about the taxes and fantasize about an uprising. He had told me about the discussion and how futile it was. But apparently word had leaked back into Roman quarters. I never saw him again. His family had a very hard time after that. The villagers helped them for a while, and eventually they migrated to Jerusalem where Martha, his wife, begged in the marketplace. Eventually, many years later, I saw her again, selling for a silversmith in the high temple.

-4-

Most of the time I worked with my father. He taught me how to carve and plane, drill, burnish and finally, to build.

I learned to love wood from him, that each piece was different from the next, with its own character and its own best use. Many times I had seen him sit for the evening talking, listening, but always with his attention on a piece of wood standing in the corner, shaping it in his mind, carving it with his eyes, smoothing it, loving it, coming to know it for itself before working with it. Sometimes he would wait weeks before laying a hand upon a particular piece of material. Love he put into his work almost as much as into our family.

However, I regretted we did not get on better. Never was he displeased with me. Never did he utter harsh words, or suffer impatience. Never did he resent or ridicule me. But he was aware of my closeness with my mother, and it sometimes worried him. She and I spoke as one mind, and he did not always understand this closeness, as if he neither could nor should intrude. Also, other things troubled him. For example, one afternoon I had cut the back of my hand while working on a table edge. Two mornings later when I resumed work he looked at me with surprise and came to look at my hands. The cut was healed. Before I could speak to him, he walked away shaking his head. Later, when I had finished, I broached the subject that our Father healed all wounds, but he did not want to talk about it.

"I am glad that you are better," he said. But from his manner it was clear that he was confused and would prefer not to discuss the matter. He was de-barking some small timbers in the courtyard, but he did not ask for my help as he usually would have done.

-5-

Often I would climb east, far into the sun parched hills which gradually rose and swelled up from the village. The gentle rolling land stretched endlessly in all directions, scattered with small shrubs and occasional trees beneath an infinite clear sky to the darker hills in the distance. The rough countryside provided a sharp contrast to the village below which was surrounded by rich green orchards and date palms, verdant fields and well tended olive groves, where the small cluster of square sunlit homes were dwarfed by the great expanse of rolling colored country. I would find my sitting place on a large flat stone and gaze for hours at the small village below. Far on the opposite hills I would watch Emmanuel slowly drive his herd of sheep like small rambling tufts of cotton. When the wind was right, I would hear their bleating, but usually all I heard were occasional dogs, someone shouting at an ass, or children playing in the square by the well.

I searched for reasons for everything. Reasons for life, for the many forms of life, for my special awareness, and for the absence of faith within my village. Questions. Always, as I watched from the hillside, it seemed I had more questions than answers. I could see the people and animals, seemingly small and helpless below. How beautiful, their endurance, despite the little that was given them. How senseless the suffering and pain, the death and privation seemed to me then. How wasteful the efforts of oppression and conquest, the struggle to survive. For many timeless moments I gazed upon the small cluster of homes, amongst the rich vineyards and orchards, as if answers were hidden within their walls, as if the village itself would someday speak to me and disclose some hidden purpose.

Always, I wondered too, why some people could see and others could not, why some were lame and others were whole, why sometimes good men died and the devious would thrive.

I recalled the words of my mother: "It is as it is, my son. God has his reasons."

"But Mother, if I would not be so harsh on the world, why would my Father try people so?"

"You must not speak that way. Go back to your Scriptures."

The Scriptures. Always the Scriptures. Truly, I knew she was right, but did no one have answers themselves, answers from the Father Himself? I knew also there was a point past which one should not question things. A point where one would commence to feel they were intruding into forbidden ground, or perhaps taking on more than one was able to handle, only to become overwhelmed, to end up senselessly tired and destitute of answers or discovery - such as taking on the origins of the universe itself in meditation. All of which I had tried, but either it was too simple to grasp or completely impossible, I wasn't sure. Perhaps both.

However, I did not think I was asking impossible questions, nor intruding onto hallowed ground to want to understand the everyday world around me.

"If Our Father had not wanted us to inquire," I thought, "He would not have given us the ability." It would only have hurt her feelings if I had said this aloud, and so I kept my peace.

"Yes, Mother. I will look to the Scriptures."

Then too, perhaps she was right. I myself did not know. Therefore, it must have been true, I thought, that I also needed the guidance of the Scriptures.

-6-

By the time I was twelve I knew the Scriptures. What I could not quote, I could make reference to and locate at will. They were not difficult, but the volume of detail, and names were considerable. Certainly, I was not as experienced in their interpretation as the good Rabbi, nor was I so absolute in my understanding, perhaps, as he. This made me neither right nor wrong in my own eyes, but only meant that I had much work and understanding to span.

Needless to say I obeyed the commandments and covenants. However, I was not wise. I only knew what I saw and perceived. While a command of the Scriptures solved many problems for me and answered many questions, the same abundance of knowledge brought with it many confusions and contradictions. I could answer questions, quote, and select phases, stories, and songs as appropriately as the Rabbi, I thought, but still I was uneasy, in many ways more so than before.

The most trying issue was still the same: who knew from our Father? I myself did not. Also, I was having great trouble reconciling my idea of the Lord with the often ominous, vindictive, angry, harsh and sometimes cruel image our forefathers held. Surely many of the accounts had been tainted by angry scribes, writers or rabbi's; witnesses who felt intimidated, persecuted...or abandoned. The Lord I knew, as in the discussions with my mother, was a power so infinite and gracious that it was sometimes hard to believe that He would intentionally turn people to stone or salt, justify fighting and massacre, wholesale slaughter. Mind you, I was not doubting our testament, only perhaps the tone of God, as it was written. Surely, He had more compassion than He was represented as having. Surely, there was more reason and purpose to our sufferings than the avoidance of His wrath and punishment? Otherwise why would innocent children die, the holy grow lame, and tyrants prosper?

More seriously, of all the peoples of the earth, his own creations, were we truly the only ones worthy or capable of his favor? Aside from the difficulty I had trying to understand or accept the injustices of the world, I found it harder to believe that there was no hope for anyone except those of our faith, that we were God's chosen people and there the matter was finished.

How could we, in our select countenance, be free of any responsibility to share our wisdom and knowledge with other peoples? In God's eye, was one's only hope to be born into one of our families? I wondered what the new Messiah would say on such matters. But then, while some were still quite hopeful and knew His arrival was eminent, I personally saw no signs of His coming at all.

-7-

On two occasions as I sat on my large flat stone on the hillside looking down at the village, as I stretched my mind to the far purple reaches of the surrounding country, I felt a closeness with God that I sometimes felt in prayers, and it suddenly seemed that I could see the whole world at once, that I had an overview of myself sitting small and minuscule below on a tiny particle and that I could simultaneously see everywhere the bright sunlight fell, to the edge of twilight and the night itself.

I saw great rivers and the sea which joined with the greater seas, and surrounding lands, the great land of the Romans extending into the Mediterranean, Greece, the lands of the Syrians, and the Egyptians. Through the clear blue sky I was aware of the darkness above filled with the simple glistening of stars. I scanned the great land of the black tribes below and the yellow tribes over my shoulder to the East, with their firelights dying in the night, as they slept during our day.

I saw expansive cloudbanks, flashes of lightning and heard the thunder. I saw large areas of rain, the huge running plains, and the greater mountains of blue stone to the north covered with deep drifts of snow. And on both occasions I marveled at God's world, its beauty, its magnificence, its diversity and seemingly limitless potential. At the same time, I was overwhelmed by the vastness of what I saw and by the almost ruthless challenge of the elements against our survival, the extremes of temperature and altitude, the verdant fields, the barren wastes, the violent storms of the seas and oceans, with their abundant harvests of fish. Nowhere were there two peoples alike, nor two persons, nor two fowl, nor two beasts. Any more than there were two stones alike, nor locations. How wondrous a world it was, how exciting and violent, how beautiful, how powerful and serene.

There was so much land. Surely enough so that each man could hold his own province. And yet we were our own worst enemy, exploiting one another's ignorance, fighting and oppressing. I saw the fields where Sepphoris was burned and the three thousand were killed, ruins of great cities and civilizations, ancient graves and tombs and battlegrounds of the past and future. I thought of Moses leading us to our new land and wondered if perhaps we were not yet home. Perhaps this was only a resting place and the new Messiah would lead us out of this new bondage to some fertile place on the great earth where we could start anew, untroubled by tyrants and barbarians. But in the same instant I knew that He would not. First of all, it was apparent from the Scriptures that violence was too ingrained in the hearts of men, and secondly, the Messiah surely would want to share our knowledge and wisdom with all the peoples of the world.

Moreover, He would have to conquer their thoughts and feelings and prejudice. What we needed was a world unified in spirit. Surely it would be a great battle, the greatest battle of all time, horrendous silent battles, earthshaking conflicts of mind, and then a stream of quiet continuous victory.

I did not discuss these experiences with everyone. They would not be credible to the average ear. More importantly, they were special moments. Somehow, I had been privileged to see the world and I did not fully understand. I did know however, that I had moved well out of my body and momentarily enjoyed an expanded awareness, but I did not know why this had actually happened. It was many years later before I could interpret such occurrences. I had known always that I was not just a body, nor was anyone; surely bodies had limited perceptions, and a background of their own, separate from the persons operating them. I knew also that I had lived before, but I did not recall much of this, only glimpses of other ages, other times, and sometimes other viewpoints amongst the stars. Sometimes, just before falling to sleep, images would flash through my mind of other worlds, long gone by.

I knew also that most people were not aware of our nature. While some knew, including my mother, for most people the subject was foreign. I had been told that this understanding was common amongst the Egyptians, for example, but I had been too young when we were there to explore such things.

On the second occasion of expanded awareness, I had a strange feeling that someone was behind me. I did not know if they were present with a physical form, or simply as an awareness, but I sensed something there, some presence. Neither did I know how close nor far away they were, but I felt they were aware of me. But I did know, no matter how, whether just feet away, or thousands of kilometers, I knew that it was important and friendly. It was at once powerful and familiar; not as powerful as the Lord, but powerful nonetheless, and it was many years before I could place that presence, and know just what it was that had happened.

I did not return to the mountain to my sitting place for several weeks and when I did I could no longer see the world. While I was very aware, it was not the same as before. Either it was never my power in the first place, and had been granted by God for a reason, or it had been temporarily mine, and I had lost it. I was already aware that one's abilities could fluctuate; sometimes they were there, sometimes not.

-8-

In that year we went to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. How utterly exciting it was, to see so many of my own people gathering together for the Holy Days. Holiday celebrations, in praise of God, and in thanks for our own sacred deliverance, enthralled me. And the people; how I loved crowds; as happy as I could be alone, I was exhilarated by crowds, as if I were suddenly meeting everyone at once.

As we climbed the Mount of Olives out of the valley from Jericho, past the high rocky cliffs which rose steeply from the roadside, we reached the summit after a day's climb and there before us lay the city in all its splendor, the huge marble temple rising in the center, its pillars trimmed in gold. Herod's three towers rose in the background amongst the clay houses glistening white across the upper plain, interspersed with olive groves and palm trees, lemon trees and grape arbors. It was a fortress, a monument, a work of art, the magnificent city beneath a spotless blue sky, the great Roman amphitheater in the distance. All of the Roman buildings were painted with murals and colored designs toward the roof and small streams of white smoke billowed above from the town ovens.

Like many others, we had planned to arrive the night before and the road into the city, along the great wall, was crowded with men and women, young and old, and many children, burros and carts, and as much as I loved all of the people, I loved the children more for they had yet to be educated against life, or damaged by ill experience; their hearts were still open.

In fact, it was one of the few times I can recall having to actually restrain myself from my pure joy at seeing all of the different people, with their different arts and crafts, crops and harvests, with different lines on their faces, different experiences, different trials and purposes, joys, and diverse means of survival in our world.

For should I truly have expressed myself, I would have turned cartwheels and thanked them all for being there, and I fear my parents would have thought I had lost my senses. Eagerly, I sought words which would describe my feelings as we moved with the milling crowd toward the city. And then, as my father spied Hezekiah, another young carpenter who had traveled with us from Nazareth, making camp in a vacant space along side of the road, we veered off and began to settle ourselves with him and his family. Oh what a wonder; oh what a disappointment. For I had wanted to go directly to the center, right to the very heart of the city, the temple and the marketplace. I had many reasons to be happy on that journey, and as it turned out it was better than I had ever anticipated. But father was right; we had nothing to gain by entering the city proper that night. My mother was riding Zachi, our old burro, as was her custom, and my father helped her gently down and began to unload the few things we had brought to sell.

Other Nazarenes from our caravan made camp with us and I helped some of the other children hunt for firewood. We had brought some kindling, but needed some larger logs. What a sight it was, hundreds of families settled across the parched plain, some wealthy with their large tents and servants. Already some had meat roasting, and my father traded some bundles of kindling for a few large logs for our campsite. Michael, Hezekiah's son, and I carted them, weaving amongst the fires and vendors to our site.

Afterwards, I walked several hundred feet up the road and waited in line at the spring for water, and the continuous stream of people continued to mill into the city, some on foot, with others on burros and camelback. Once two Roman soldiers rode their horses at a gallop into the city and crowd spread like a wave to the roadside and then fell back like the tide. Other soldiers were stationed in pairs at several locations on the edge of the large field, but they were in good humor for the most part, and seemed to enjoy the festive atmosphere. Toward twilight there was singing and dancing among us; I found an old man I had seen in Capharnaum, telling tales to a crowd closely knitted about his fire. I listened far into the night until the cool breeze drifted over us from the west and the long crescent moon rose from behind the hills to the East, and then I heard my mother call above the wine drinking merriment and singing and returned to my small pallet by the fire.

But I did not sleep for several hours before the twisting flames died to a bed of embers against the night and my father made his way to my mother's side through the darkness. He had been drinking wine with Hezekiah and some other friends on the other side of the fire, My mother had been talking also with a small group of women from our town and it struck me as strange that people could live in the same quarters for the entire year and hardly speak to each other, but then, away from home, perhaps unfettered by the burdens of daily life, they seemed to release an entire year's flood of happenings, feelings and ideas.

I finally realized the right words for my love of crowds; it was as if I were meeting again other parts of myself.

I lay quietly until nearly midnight watching the entire camp in my mind, listening to the cry of lambs and dogs, a baby cried, the animals were restless away from home, a wooden flute pierced the night, the fragrance of oranges, almonds and honey, charred meat and wood smoke lingered in the cool evening air beneath the dark and starry sky. Some sang on quietly, while others snored into the night and I could hear the faint sounds of the beautiful city ahead of us.

A young couple got into trouble for returning late from an evening stroll. And I, beneath my striped woolen coverlet, next to my parents by the fire, still contained myself. While Ezekiel could not come, he had directed me to the temple where I could speak with the scribes and Pharisees, but I had even greater reasons to be excited. Tomorrow I would seek out Masarias. I knew he would be there. It had been two years since I had seen him, but I knew he would be there, and perhaps he would have an answer for me.

-9-

The next morning we awakened before dawn, shook the cold from our bones and were one of the first families to wash up at the spring and make our way up the road into the city with Hezekiah and his family. Everyone was getting an early start, but the mood of the people which gradually milled through the darkness up the narrow streets between the stone walls and houses was entirely different from the evening before: voices were hushed and one could only hear the shuffle of sandals along the cool street still wet with dew as the sweet smell of earth and damp stones pervaded the silent moving crowds. Never did I feel more close to my family than that morning on our way to morning prayers.

We stopped briefly at the household of some of Hezekiah's relatives and left our belongings while I took Zachi to a small stable in the rear courtyard. He seemed quite at home there; they had some fresh hay, and an ewe with a baby lamb in the yard. Also there were rich purple grapes growing along their side wall. It was a beautiful house with colored tile floors inlaid with designs, and a special room for eating with a long, thick wooden table and their own brass menorah. I paused on my way to feel the smooth finish of the wood. It was carved from two single planks which had come from a great distance. Never had I seen a piece of wood so beautiful with such a sleek, almost indistinguishable grain.

Everyone in the long room was exchanging brief greetings; they would be following us soon to the temple; they had three girls and two boys, as well as a small baby girl who was very beautiful. The father of the baby had apparently slept on the roof and came down a ladder rubbing his eyes and scratching his ribs through his tunic. I had been introduced and stood on an angle at the front door, anxious to leave. I could not wait to see the temple again and hear the morning prayers.

By the time we arrived at the temple, the pale sun was glistening on the gold trim of the tall marble pillars. We had passed beggars sleeping in the streets and doorways like piles of rags and seen a couple of soldiers weaving their way home from a night's outing. Finally, we saw the temple in all its splendor, the great tabernacle in the center, with its loaves and golden candleholder. Everyone was dressed in their finest, with some of the wealthy in colored velvet robes with gold brocade sitting on the far side of the tabernacle.

What power was there on that day. My father and I went to the men's section where he lifted me in his arms so I could see better. Many late arrivals had to stand in the surrounding street. Throngs of people were all giving thanks and praise to God at once and it seemed we were all permeated with His presence. I felt myself, my awareness, expand again, in that instant, pervade the entire city, each and every stone and clay wall, person, and child. I sensed the evil, the good, and the indifference, and for just one fleeting moment, I was also alone looking down over the great city, and it was as if I were seeing the city with God himself; and in another moment I was simply in my father's arms watching the ceremony. We were pressed into the crowd; I could hear the people breathing and sense the blood pulsing in their veins as I looked out across the heads of all the people to the great rabbi in the center, in his rich robes, and tall hat reflecting in the early light. Through the rear of the temple in the distance I could see the upper wall of the Roman circus. While a few were bored, or disinterested, almost everyone was pious and humble.

I thought of Ezekiel's words, that each body itself was a temple of the Lord, with its eyes for windows and its mouth as the gate, and I thought of us all as many temples within the temple that morning; for never had I felt more filled with God's presence.

And as soon as the prayers were finished, it was as if we had never come; the crowd dispersed and only a few people remained to talk in the streets. My parents were going back to the home to visit and I was allowed to tour the city on my own. I stopped first at a small local marketplace to the west of the temple. It was early yet, and only a few people were selling in the market. A couple of money changers were on the corner, a lady and her husband were selling raisins and almonds while some other fruit, herb, and vegetable vendors were open with their wares in baskets. The large open square was surrounded by houses and walls on three sides: a few men in tattered robes strolled about with stacks of cloth over their shoulders trying to sell passers by. The sun had risen over the edge of the roof and was beginning to bake the stone square. A few Roman soldiers were shopping for fruits. I was searching the crowd for Masarias, or even one of his camp followers, but there was no one.

"Excuse me," I said to the elder woman spreading nuts on a large piece of muslin, "but do you know a man named Masarias?" She was wearing a striped tunic of dark orange and blue. Her face was wizened from years of sun, and her dark eyes, beneath her mantle were healthy and alert.

"Yes, child," she replied kindly. Her husband was unloading a bag of almonds from their donkey, just behind her. "He was a day late, and just made camp last night."

"Southeast of town?" I said, pointing.

"Yes. Where he always is."

"Thank you," I said, and then, as I was leaving, with the sound of the city in my ears, the conversations of a small group of men around the square; I could hear horses' hoofs against the stones. In the distance; the smell or myrtle and marjoram in my senses, for no apparent reason, a strange unusual experience occurred in my life. I hesitated and looked across the square at a young girl running. Two boys followed closely behind her. She was easily a couple of years younger than I; she stopped just behind a tall stack of yellow baskets, our eyes met, and in that moment I knew many things. I suddenly understood all of the long walks young couples took at night, and all of the reasons people became married, why they were so happy to be together. I knew why people held each other and why they spent long moments watching the sea and the stars together. And I knew that if I lived a normal life that I would marry her, and that we would have children, and be very happy, and find our way with God together. And all of this I knew in an instant looking out across the square into her young and innocent eyes, eyes with a simplicity and beauty I had only seen in infants. She smiled briefly and then frowned, as if she were confused. And I sensed that for a second she knew also and was spellbound by a similar realization with no words, and I was happy. I knew the meaning of a couple's laughter and touching. And I knew she knew also, and I even knew that I was too young for such things as well as she, with her bright eyes and dark lips, and yet as young people, I knew that our lives were instantaneously entwined and I knew not why. She was beautiful beyond her appearance. Her eyes, little did I know, were to haunt my consciousness for years to come.

And in that same instant I was overwhelmed by a tremendous sadness because I knew also, that none of that would ever happen because I would not, no matter for what reason, lead a normal life -and that if I did not marry her, something would go very wrong in her life, and that I might even have the chance to help her change it someday, that I might at least owe that much to her, and that she would never be mine, but that I would always be hers.

I knew from her accent as she had called out that she was not from Jerusalem, but was from the north country. The boys were playing harmlessly, she had something of theirs, and soon her parents who were following, appeared from a side street and she and the young boys, who appeared to be relatives of some sort, all joined them.

Our gaze had been broken by one of the boys calling her, "Miriam, are you all right?"

Yes, she was all right, perhaps more overwhelmed than I, by something she did not understand. I watched her as she crossed the square with her family, and on up the street to the next corner. In the bright sunlight her head scarf seemed to almost shine. Just before they turned the corner she glanced over her shoulder at me again and frowned, as if something were very wrong. Perhaps she knew even more than I in that very instant, of what was happening or would happen or wouldn't happen, or should have happened. I didn't know, nor did I ever find out in my later life even when I encountered her again.

My thoughts were jumbled; they seemed to commingle with the minds of many people at once and as I strolled past the great temple once more, even the sunlight failed to pierce my thoughts. I had seen too many things too fast; it was the first inkling that I was not going to live a normal life, that I would not grow up to be a carpenter, nor a rabbi, in Nazareth. Usually, I was not attuned to the future, and suddenly, I realized what could have happened, but would never happen at all. Was I going to die? No, that had nothing to do with anything. What then was the meaning of that look, the young girl's haunting eyes? Why have such an experience? I had to conclude that it was an accident, somehow, which would never have happened in ordinary life. From seeing her thoughts, I discovered that she was from Magdala which was not far from our home, but I also concluded that there was no point in my visiting there. Since our destiny was shattered, that would only compound a situation which was already more confusing than I was prepared handle.

What therefore was I going to become? Where would I be; what would I be doing? I had no idea. Once I had thought of going to Rome to learn from their great scholars, but that made no sense. They knew nothing of our history nor religion; they were heathens, actually, worshipping a group of Gods which sounded childish at best They did not yet know God was One. Truly, a society so dedicated to force could have little to offer to an understanding of God and the world about us.

Little did I know that with each footstep down the stone street I was already on my way to an entirely new phase of life.

-10-

There, finally, at the edge of the city, was Masarias' camp spread out before me. It was a beautiful camp with large striped and colored tents, and many camels and horses. Somehow the tents were pitched in an orderly fashion, as if he were creating a small city of his own, and everywhere people were working, feeding and watering animals, stacking and sorting bundles and baskets of merchandise. Several women were gathered at a small winding stream beside the campsite, where they were washing clothes and laying them on the grassy banks to dry. His workers seemed to be from every land, some of them large black men from the continent to the south, a few Orientals, and some of them the lean Indians from the East. His workers and followers were better dressed than others because, as I had heard, he had better bargaining strength and also paid better than most traders. Everywhere, it seemed were attractive women dressed in colored tunics and veils going about their work in an orderly fashion, attending fires, making bread and preparing meat and spices over the many fires for the midday meal. Many young children were scattered about the camp also, but they were not playing; they were all helping in the work. The encampment had an atmosphere of relief, accomplishment, and celebration, at the completion of another long journey. They had just returned from the Far East along the trade route past Damascus to the north.

Masarias was an unusual caravan leader. First of all, he was a working leader; he did not sit around on a large carpet giving orders and demanding to be served. He was the first to dismount in the evening and start unloading his wares; when they were attacked by Bedouins or hill bandits along the way, I had heard that he was always the first in front of his men riding furiously with his long flashing saber. Many times I had thought of him in battles, his long robes flowing and his beautiful teeth brandished in a furious and frightening smile in anticipation of the ensuing combat. Truly, he was a remarkable man.

In many instances the Romans would take advantage of the caravan leaders and merchants, but they left Masarias alone. First of all, the officers knew they were always welcome for wine and food, sometimes women, and in earlier years, when a few soldiers had tried to drive unfair bargains with one of his tradesmen, Masarias appeared, so I was told, as if from nowhere, spoke a few quiet words to them in their own tongue, and they abruptly dispersed.

As I entered the camp, a tall long faced man in a beige tunic was stacking hides bundled with thongs.

"Where could I find Masarias?" I asked, but I had already spotted him at the other end of his camp before the man set down his parcel and pointed.

"Thank you," I said. Now I walked slowly through the camp wondering what Masarias might have to tell me. I was almost afraid to find out, but in my heart I felt I already knew, that he had good news.

As I approached, he was directing some workmen in the organization of some large bales. Some goods were his own, others consisted of orders by local merchants who made partial payments in advance to finance his journey.

He spied me almost fifty yards away and I saw his large white grin flash beneath his mustache as he gave some final orders to his men and raised his arm to me.

"Ah, my 'cheery-one'," he called. "I wasn't sure you would come." He put his arm around me and ushered me to a brightly colored carpet at the entrance to his tent. The headband around his bright white mantle was brocaded with black and gold and he wore two tunics, one of colored cotton beneath another which was white and sleeveless. His face seemed almost black from the weather so that all you could see were the clear whites of his eyes and his teeth as he smiled which he did often.

"First of all," he said, "let me get you some fresh tea, I have a new leaf from East India, as well as some of the little fruits you like, or would you prefer honey cakes?"

"Tea and fruit," I said gratefully. I had not expected such a flourishing welcome.

Masarias, with one clap of his hands ordered a young girl to bring us the delicacies. I was almost embarrassed to discover how much our previous talk must have meant to him; he was receiving me as an equal.

"And so, what have you been up to my young friend?" he grinned. "Have you been storing up new questions for your traveler?"

"No. No, I have not," I replied quietly. I was humbled by his great welcome. Actually, two years earlier, despite his hospitality, I was worried that I had been a bother to him, but he obviously remembered our meeting with surprising fondness.

"No, I do not have too many questions. Since you were gone, I have worked with the rabbi and mastered the Scriptures."

"Oh yes, that funny religion of yours. How is it going?"

I found it utterly amazing that Masarias could say anything to me without being insulting. Ordinarily, I would have been offended by such statements and excused myself; it was blasphemy, but I knew his words were without malice; his attitude was one of true affection.

"I have learned many things; I especially like the tales of David and Elijah."

"Oh yes, I think I have heard of them. Quite powerful fellows if I remember," he added. "Quite powerful."

"And I had an experience...which I will tell you about. But how was your journey?"

"Ahh-h! So you want to know about my journey? I bet you do. Melissa!" he called out. "Was not the water hot?"

"Yes my lord."

She appeared instantly from the fire in front of his tent with a tray of honey cakes, kumquats and a hot pitcher of tea. Bending gracefully over us, she poured the tea into small shining white cups. The carpet beneath us was deep and soft to the touch. It was embellished with a red and blue design of leaves and flowers with a border of dancing women. Masarias looked majestic sitting in front of his great eight-posted tent which was made of heavy cloth with broad orange and green stripes. Behind him, I could barely see in the dark portal which appeared cool and inviting. A pretty young oriental woman emerged carrying a small baby wrapped in red diaphanous swaddling.

"Ah," Masarias cried with delight. "You must meet my new bride and son," he said.

Beneath her mantle, for the first time I saw the wide, almond shaped eyes and plucked brows of the oriental. She was beautiful with small pursed lips and then, as she leaned gracefully over, the folds of a light blue tunic, woven with silver and gold stars, quietly crushed together, breaking the silence, as she showed me the face of her child.

"These are an extraordinary people," Masarias said. "Their warriors are like tigers and the women are as gentle as the wind itself."

The child was intriguing, pale yellow, the color of our desert, with a nearly flat face. He had the same shaped eyes, heavy black hair, and small, dark, almost purple lips.

"Hey little bandit," Masarias said, offering his finger to the child.

I looked at the boy and the mother and saw cultures in their minds that I had not seen before. As he had said, they were at once powerful, beautiful and sensitive. I saw great pointed houses, and frail, delicate art brushed upon fine paper and cloth, long steel swords, and men on horseback with what appeared to be finely carved bones or ivory in their hair.

"He is very strong," Masarias said as the infant clung to his huge finger. "This is Sarin, and his mother, Szariya."

"Shalom," I said.

Masarias laughed as she politely nodded and disappeared into the dark folds of the tent.

"Well, it was a good trip. First of all," he began. "I got those two out of it, as well as a few others. It wasn't terribly eventful, however, lots of good bargains, but not much fighting; marauders aren't what they used to be. Of course, I've heard we have a reputation now; they leave us alone. We saw sand and rain storms such as you've never seen, and large herds of people migrating from drought and famine. We gave them several bushels of rice, but that didn't really help them any. And then we met friendly tribes across the world, and had feasts, and dancing, music and women, ah, the women…but of course you're not interested in that."

"Were there Gods, or new religions?"

"No, nothing new, really. Nothing other than what I've told you before. Strange beliefs some of them. Very strange. But here, you're not eating your fruit. What about you? What about this experience you mentioned?"

"Oh, I will tell you." My anticipation was becoming unbearable. I felt by now Masarias was teasing me a bit with his reticence. "What about my question?"

"Oh, yes”, he laughed. "Oh, yes, your question, my cheery-one. Yes, I have some news for you. But first tell me this experience."

The kumquats were delicious. I appreciated his remembering that I liked them. After relishing two however, I stopped to make them last longer and tell him about the two occasions when I had viewed the world. I thought of telling him about my experience with the young girl, but I could not put it into perspective; it sounded too mystical somehow, or was it too real, or too personal, or too confusing, I wasn't sure.

"Well my young one, that is something," he said sipping his tea deliberately. "Quite an experience. Actually, we have a lot in common, my young friend. I have had similar experiences at times. Every time I am in battle, for instance, and sometimes when I walk alone. But not so impressive, certainly. Only for small areas of space, on the plains, or in the forest. It proves what they say in the East though. I do not understand it really, but I do sense it's true."

"What is that?"

"That we are not the flesh. That we supersede the flesh. We are aware beyond that."

"That is so," I said. "That is so." I wanted to tell him something, I was not sure exactly what or how, and then, without thinking, words came to me. "It proves that we are all part of God's awareness, that the Lord God is One and is Infinite, and you are part of that, as I am, and we all are, and that the flesh is simply a lowly form which we agree to inhabit until everyone understands God." I did not know where the words came from.

"Quite so, my friend. Quite so," he said pensively. "You have a great gift. A great gift."

"Yes?" I said, almost afraid to speak now.

"Yes. You have the makings of a young prophet. Perhaps that is the meaning of your experience," he said. His voice was grave, almost as if someone else were speaking.

It was the first time I had considered such an idea. It was frightening. It was challenging. It was truly disconcerting. It was blasphemy to even imagine such an outrageous idea, that I, the son of a carpenter, could ever be a spokesman for God Himself. A rabbi? Perhaps. A prophet? No! The thought alone made me ashamed. Something had gone wrong. Always, my life was clean and simple, and on that morning it had all gone wrong. After all, what would the Messiah say if he came and discovered that I had even entertained such thoughts? Surely, he would feel offended.

"No, I am sorry," I said. "I am just a boy. A curious student perhaps, but a boy."

Masarias laughed at me and then looked across his camp as if seeing some private vision.

"Yes. Just a boy," he laughed again. "Just a boy. The world should be made of boys like you."

"Thank you, sir. But I do wonder about my question."

"Yes, I'm sure," he said. "And you shall have your answer."

Masarias leaned forward and held my forearm with his massive hand. I watched his face closely as if following some silent command. The years of sun and wind had worn deep creases around his eyes and beneath his beard so that he always appeared to be smiling, even when he was solemn as he was now. Beneath the thick black bush of his brows, his charcoal dark eyes locked upon mine and glistened in the sunlight.

"I don't know what this means to you...," he began in a deep monotone, "...nor what you shall do with the knowledge. Mind you also, and mind you well, that it is hearsay. I have not met such a man myself, but I have inquired broadly on your behalf and surely, as I told you I had heard before, it appears that there exists such a man, A Man Who Knows."

Tears welled in my eyes. I knew it was true. I was so exhilarated and moved that I hardly heard his following words. I knew there was. There had to be. Yes, there was such a person. Where? Oh my God, where? How I had longed for that moment, to know that someone knew.

"There," he said. I knew you would be happy. Masarias wiped the wetness from my cheek with the back of his large hand. I realized that I had been smiling through my tears.

"Now, I have never been to this place, but apparently, he lives and teaches in a small town near Peshawar and Rawalpindi in the north of Persia toward the great mountains. He is called the Param Sant, or Parmi, and as nearly as I can gather, he does not teach, actually, but helps people teach themselves."

"What does that mean?"

"He says that everyone knows, but we hide our awareness from ourselves. That is all I could decipher from those with whom I spoke. Of course, these people are not so easily understood through their funny languages. Here, have a honey cake."

What peace of mind I experienced. What calm. Somehow I had known, and all the protests of my younger years somehow seemed justified. Of course, the man might not be true. There were many fakes in our time, magicians, street-corner-prophets, soothsayers and fortune tellers, and psychics, of course; but none of them had a reputation of One Who Knows. There were men in the desert, who claimed to be 'inspired* by divine powers, but all of these were obvious pretense, even to my young eyes. Finally, I had heard of someone, One Who Knows. No one could know, without knowing God.