1: The Exodus of the Goddess
The word was with God, and the word was God. Those words had been pounded into my head since the day I was born. But did the word have any meaning to
me? I suppose it did not matter, because I was born a Canaanite.My people despised and feared God. He had driven my great-grandfather into exile, and my people were forced to
begin again. It was not as if Adam and Eve were the only creatures God had made, for even in animals there are many of one kind that varies only slightly. My people were a crossing of the
two distinct kinds that there were.
From early childhood I learned not to trust adults and their so-called wisdom. I can recall an adventure in the desert that made such trust crumble like weak
mortar. My mother had gone to a sacred well to pray for her next child to be a son. She was born to a tribe of wild women who had no love for the ways of men, but had taken a husband
among them to provide peace for her people. She still prayed to the Goddess, even if it was forbidden. She prayed that she would have no more daughters, and that my womb would wither and
be no more because no girl should endure what lay before me. I never knew why she should pray for this, but my father permitted it because she was loyal to him and he was kindly enough to see
what she said was true. While she was praying and my father was visiting relatives I slipped off to explore my new surroundings.
The desert was dotted by various oases in those days. There was no need to fear thirst, for it was easy to reach one oasis before becoming too thirsty. I
had a good solid camel to carry me, and I had plenty of energy to spare. My parents looked on my adventures as a way to free me from the constraints of a demanding society that would
eventually imprison me. I looked upon it as a time to enjoy my communion with the spirits I so readily heard and obeyed. They had never guided me astray, and my child-like acceptance and
curiosity made it easier to understand them. Today they told me to look out for a swamp because there I would see marvelous things.
I never doubted those voices, and I seldom questioned their motives, but today I was skeptical. There were no swamps in the desert. As a matter- of-fact I
knew that the only swamp within hundreds of miles was near the Dead Waters. I could see no plausible reason to look for something that most certainly would never be found, so I explored one
cool, shaded pool after another. It was when my camel heard a songbird that I noticed we were not alone. A man came from out of nowhere holding a songbird of the most vivid green and blue
on his hand. The bird sang as if his tiny heart would break, and his adoration of this man was clear. He smiled politely, and the bird finished its song and retreated to a branch to watch
the man shyly. He spoke without looking at me as if I were some annoying fly he wished to be free of.
“You have never seen such a bird have you?” he said it while absently smelling a fragrant blue flower. I shook my head vigorously, unable to speak. “They
live by the swamp. They like the privacy. Men don’t know where the swamp is, and those who stumble on it feel like they are dreaming. You should go and see it. It may help you
understand why your mother is so very sure she must have a son.”
He turned his attention to a butterfly happily roosting on his shoulder, and I just stood watching. He seemed old, but young. His face was wise, but it
lacked any certain definition. When he spoke I felt compelled to listen, but his presence was too gentle to be demanding. He smiled an ageless smile of wonder and impishly laughed, “You
seem to know me, but you are not sure how?” I smiled sheepishly and he laughed harder, “I am the light and I am the truth. I am alpha and omega; I am the beginning and the end.” He
smiled once more and then he vanished.
This remarkable “man” had been God! He was simply here to remind me what I had been told to do earlier. The words he said followed me down into my deepest
sorrows and my highest joys, but they were never understood nor given merit until another speaker gave them meaning. I mounted my camel and followed the now jubilant and competent songbird
across the yellow sand.
The bird led me some distance from the cool oasis to a murky swamp standing alone. The smell was one of reeking vegetation and stagnant water. The air was
only mildly cooler, and various thorn-bushes snagged at my camel’s blankets and my clothes while mosquitoes and flies buzzed about my head. Birds sang in profusion, and fish leapt out of the
water. It seemed as if the only life that avoided this place were humans. Another glance at the swamp brought my attention to the sluggish current moving algae across its
length. Life did not seem to take notice of the meager and unattractive surroundings; it enjoyed the diversity and refuge. But I could only wonder why a swamp stood here alone and
From the side of the small stagnant pool the man reappeared. The birds sang in a chorus of joy, and the fish danced in and out of the tranquil surface of the
water. He regarded all the merriment with a gentle amusement. He suddenly stood beside me as if he could appear and vanish at will.
“It is a unique place isn’t it? Once it stretched for miles in all directions and no thorns penetrated one’s skin and the water ran as fast and clear as any
river could. All that ended as suddenly as it began, and this stands as its remains. A filmy example of paradise lost.”
His ageless face was suddenly marred by a grief so profound only a child could understand it. His bright eyes grew distant and his expression became
sorrowful. I was conflicted by this scene. Here was a man, or something that looked like a man, with indispensable knowledge and wisdom at his fingertips sorrowing over something that was
small in contrast to his power. He seemed to be human, but something in me told me that he was beyond that. “Why are you so sad?”
His eyes brightened and his voice took on a tone of longing, “I made this for those I created and loved, but they disobeyed and were driven out. Later one of
their children killed another, and I was forced to drive him farther away. His family flourished, but their debt remains unpaid.”
In my foolish child’s mind I could see no reason to grieve for those that stubbornly disobeyed. “Why should you be made sad when they didn’t listen?”
His eternal eyes twinkled with renewed hope, “I will not always be sad, my child. Someday it will all be made right, but for now I regret to inform you that
punishment still weighs heavy on the shoulders of the Canaanites.”
“What are Canaanites?” As you may well see, I was still too young to see that he meant my people specifically.
He went on to explain in at some length, but I still saw no reason why I should be concerned with this so-called debt. He remarked at this, “You will never
understand until you have failed to repay it. Your people have become corrupt. They worship idols that are evil, and practice lecheries I find most distasteful. You will someday see
why they must be stopped because they are not the ways of truth. Symbols can become real if one takes the trouble to make them so, and some will. Evil is not only in the mind, it is a
sickness of the soul. You would do well to remember that souls are neither male nor female, but all things are one, even as I am all things.”
I timidly stepped forward, “Can I ask you something?”
He smiled expansively, “It depends on you. Can you ask?”
I nodded, “Are you God or Goddess?” My manners were still unformed, and now I see my error.
He laughed a merry laugh and patted my head. “All things are one, and one is many. No name or symbol can define me, and I am everywhere and nowhere. I
am the reality, I am the hope. The symbols and images may change, but I am the Truth and the Light. No shape may hold my form, but fear not, for I am always where my children go.”
“But are you the Goddess my mother speaks of?”
He laughed again, “To be sure I am, but I am also the father. All things are one, and one is many.”
I shook my head uncomprehendingly, “I don’t understand, but I will remember.”
“Good. Now go back to your family and be well. It will be long before I see you again, my daughter. Remember that all things are one, and one is
He vanished as if he was never there. Being so young I was unaware that the presence I had just been in had changed me inside. I was far too young to know
that I had been touched by the Power, and I would carry it all my life. As a young foolish child I naturally saw nothing strange about being in such a presence. I mounted my camel and
rode off towards the encampment of my relatives only marginally impressed. When I returned I heard a discussion that disturbed even my young ears. My uncle was pleading with my father to
let me stay with them. I stood outside listening, frozen as I realized why my mother wished for no more daughters.
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