In Other Words: When the Pillars Shook

In Other Words

This post is in response to Patricia’s Quote Challenge/ In Other Words.

Patricia’s contributors are asked to take a quote and from it create a post of our own.

This week’s quote is:

“When they discover the center of the universe, 
a lot of people will be disappointed to discover they are not it.”
Bernard Bailey

When the Pillars Shook

by JE Lillie

Uzziah was gone! He may have been a leper. He may have been a fool. But he was my king and more than that he was my friend. I wept for days until the tears would come no more and then I sealed myself in my chamber.

I tried to pray. I arose every morning to the Shema. It had never been just words before but now words were all I had left, vain repetitions, little more than the chanting the pagans did in their temples. I  felt guilt. I felt anger. I felt abandoned.

For months I struggled on like this. The Great King was silent. I snivelled my prayers day by day growing weaker in faith stronger in blame. Grimly I thought to myself, “And so ends the great prophet.”

It was a morning like every other. We were nearing Sukkot. I arose feeling no great joy in the upcoming celebration. I began to mumble the words of the prayer as I had every morning since my bar mitzvah.

“Sh’ma Yis’ra’eil Adonai Eloheinu Adonai Achad.”

Something stirred beneath my feet. I looked down to see what I had stepped on that had unsteadied my stance.

” Barukh Sheim k’vod malkhu…”

And the world as I knew it was suddenly gone. It was as if a curtain had been pulled back tearing away the darkness of my room. I was in the temple or a place that looked like the temple. The air was filled with the thick smoke of incense. A fire burned on the altar of incense and behind that stood the Great Ark unveiled

I grasped my chest and inhaled violently in fear as I realized I was looking on the forbidden place. I covered my eyes but the smoke came alive and ripped my hands from before my face even as the pillars of the temple began to convulse.

The doors to the Holy place flung open and Adonai entered. His train was the smoke and the smoke was his train. It encircled Him like a shield and His eyes were the fire. Every step of His was an earthquake and every movement the explosion of a thousand suns. I was blind but could see more clearly than ever before. I stood at attention before him quivering and at the same time was prostrate on the floor shrieking.

“V’ahav’ta eit Adonai Elohekah b’khol…”

My words were drowned out by the shuddering of the walls about me as The Nameless One gathered himself to His throne atop the mercy seat. The golden cherubim came to life and spread their wings as four creatures more alive than anything on Earth cried with the voices of a thousand waterfalls, “HOLY!”

All my dry dust prayers blew away in the sound and the fury that was Heaven and I cried,

“Woe is me! I am undone!”

Of course I wasn’t really. The angel came and burned away my wickedness with fire from the altar and instead of dying I was commissioned.

One thing I have learned is that life will last as long as we shake in time with the pillars of that temple rather than trying to walk to our own rhythm.

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