An Apocryphal Legend

Once upon a time, legend tells, there were a number of people that were destitute and were exiled from their country. These people became nomads and were traveling for many years. Most of them were near their end in years-well past child bearing age-except for one youngster, a little boy. Gradually the elderly began to die off as was has been decreed by the ruling powers. The group was to die off gradually, knowing that they would not be survived by relatives. Back then, that was the worst conceivable torture. As the years tore by, there were only three remaining survivors. Two old women and a young man-that one small boy. Usually the younger of the two women and the young man would go out and do some scavenging until resources ran out and then the young man would carry the women as far as he could to a new location-for they were in a desert, after all. On a particular day both the women were feeling unwell; not uncommonly so. After being instructed to not stray too far, the young man set out to gather food. He did not find anything, and refused to come back empty handed-despite the command of the women. He continued for weeks until he heard a bubbling and gurgling and perceived that the terrain was becoming more vegetated. He followed the sound for a few days and noticed a stream of water! He was about to run back to the women until he spotted a lone tree with beautiful foliage and fruit! Fruit! He knew he had to go back but he needed to first explore the area and memorize it. He went to the tree and noticed on closer inspection that it had not escaped the notice of any animals either. They were greedily climbing up and down its trunk. The young man panicked and threw stones which scared them off. Grabbing the fruit from its lowest limb he gobbled it down and the juice spurted out in his mouth covering his tongue with its divine sweetness and he soon became lost in his own mind. Time no longer moved for him yet the clouds began to cluster and a mighty wind began to blow. When the first droplet plunged

itself upon the young man’s nose he looked up and broke from his trance. Frightened, for it seemed a tumultuous tempest was about to commence, he began to run further up the stream hoping for perhaps-as the terrain vaguely suggested-some form of shelter. Larger animals had now found their way to the stream and spotted him. Run, run, run, man, for your life depends upon it! Faster he went and the rain began its attack, knifing into the ground thereafter dispersing into a squadron of splatters pounding down again and again. The pebbles on the ground grew into rocks which grew into larger stones and the boy had to slow down to maneuver his way. And then he ran into a wall. But it wasn’t a wall. At least, it was like no wall that he had ever seen before, nor could have imagined. He touched its glassy surface and it felt smooth and slick. From his height downwards it was pure crystal clear hard diamond, but further up he could see the wall decorated with layer after layer of the most spectacular gemstones. Azure, transforming itself into vibrant emerald. Then vermilion which turned to stunning carnelian and then, and then, well he didn’t even know the names of the smorgasbord of colors he saw. The structure of the wall gave the illusion that the colors were moving and blending and reassembling around each other in a kaleidoscope of mesmerizing display. The wall seemed to go upward forever without end. He became dizzy but could not close his eyes. Such foreign beauty! Color had texture! Color which could be touched and grasped! He wanted to eat these colors and carry them inside of him, for his eyes still could not grasp the whole of the colors. The young man’s whole life laid forgotten, tossed behind-exile, the storm, the starving women depending desperately on him, the fruit of the tree-gone. Peering through the wall he saw coppery shapes and he began to walk alongside the solid wall of reflecting and refracting colors. The shapes moved too. The river-for the stream had widened

gradually along-disappeared underneath. For a fraction he wondered if perhaps he should swim underneath but then, well, he reasoned that he couldn’t swim and didn’t know how wide the wall was. He continued walking. He came to an immense entrance. Characters were inscribed upon it, but he could not read. He stood perplexed and yelled, “Open up!” at the top of his lungs, and waited. The rain continued and as he stood and then sat calling out again and again, time rolled by, and he added his own tears to the mass puddles on the ground. The tempest roared like a black knight about to charge and he heard a rumbling thunder. He shook his head in grief-for surely, if this wall was so magnificent that which lay inside it should be 1100 times more! And alas! For he not even scratched its diamond surface and had to turn back to the women that might not even be there and face the rest of his life wandering alone-for a crime he did not commit no less. He sobbed and tore at his hair in a fit of despair. The thundering continued. Wait! The entrance was opening! The rumbling was not thunder at all! His eyes which had introduced him to beauteous colors now shut to stop their intensity the power of the sun. He was quite sure his eyes were closed but he could still see the colors prancing derelict until they became pure blazing white, hurting him. He put his hand over his eyes but still the light shone through and his eyes were on fire. Oh how miserable to experience such pain in the wake of such an awe inspiring moment! He walked away from the rain through the entrance guided with his hand upon the wall. He concentrated on counting his steps in an attempt to block out the pain and found the wall to be 200 feet thick. When he came out from the wall, a figure of blazing fire stood before him. It reached out and touched his forehead and suddenly, the light was no longer unbearable, its brilliance no less diminished and he could see towering buildings reaching up endlessly, made of pure gold. The light was everywhere, jumping and traveling and moving. The streets were transparent glass and he saw that though his feet were dirty they made no mark whatsoever on its

surface. Underneath was the green grass and the river which divulged into many brooks going towards the center of the city. At its core was an ancient tree bearing the same fruits which he had eaten earlier. The being said, “Welcome, Judah, to Jerusalem!” Judah was filled to the gut with a cutting joy which he had never known before but had always yearned for. He ran about, dancing and singing, listening to the light. For the light was alive, and whispered joyous wholesome laughter to his ears, speaking the language of his heart. Later, the young man Judah returned to his disparaged caretakers-barely clinging to life and each other-and brought them to this new Jerusalem and there the three of them are said to dwell, to this day, fed by the light.

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