The Lord is my Shepherd I shall not want,
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures,
He leadeth me beside the still waters,
He restoreth my soul, He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness
For His names sake.
Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
For Thou art with me, Thy rod and Thy staff shall comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and
I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
My father stayed out many nights. My mother was jealous and hated it. My mother did not have the ability to go into labor. When she was pregnant with me, almost eleven months, my father had stayed out all night. She had had enough and decided to punish him by not allowing him to spend the next day in bed. The only way she knew how to guarantee that he did not stay in bed was to fake labor. So she told him that she was in labor and that he had to take her to the hospital. When she arrived she was astounded by the news that the umbilical cord was wrapped around my neck and she had to have an emergency C-Section. My life was saved by spite. And it has been a journey through the outer limits from there on.
My early life was high scale drama, worthy only of Shakespeare. . My father was gone much of the time. His work and his women kept him out many nights. My mother would leave me alone at any time of the day or night to go and chase him down. When she could not catch him and still he did not show, she took pills. The pills would make her sleep all the time. Then there were times when the pills we used for her many suicide attempts.
I spent days and nights alone and afraid while my mother slept and my father was who knows where. So often my grandmother would call the house only to hear me tell her that I could not wake my mommy. She would then travel from East Orange, New Jersey to the Bronx to save us. Then when my father would come home they would all start screaming at each other. I felt as though my life was so far removed from the world around me. I had as much effect on my family as one has talking to the television. My mother saw me as in her way and my father rarely saw me at all. I was invisible.
There was my grandmother. She began coming every weekend and staying with us. Friday afternoon I ran to the end of our property. Right outside was the bus stop where I waited for hours not minding one moment of it because I was waiting for Baba. She loved me. The moment she stepped off of the bus I ran into her arms and smelled the scent of safety and love. She was soft, my head sunk into her stomach like a loving pillow. We would walk hand in hand to the front door, and I would ask her each time, “Baba, will you sleep in my bed with me?” Of course, she would and for two days I felt safe and loved like a real child, for two days, I didn’t eat chicken potpies.
I knew that my father loved me and so did my grandmother. In my family, loving me was a tricky proposition. It had to be done in secret, never letting my mother know that anyone loved me; to her it was either or, no one could love me if they loved her, there just was not enough love for us both. If they slipped and showed me love in front of her, I would pay.
Sometimes my mother would be wonderful, especially when I was sick. Then there were times when she was in a good mood because things were good with my father. She would tell me that she loved me and smother me with hugs and kisses. When she was happy the world was beautiful. She was so much fun, and so beautiful. The house would be filled with her singing. Then my father would be late, or not show up at all. It was at those times that she told me how much she hated me, that she just had me as a gift to my father and grandmother, or she would hurt me.
I learned that love was like a rose. It was so beautiful, but oh, the thorns. I learned to keep love at a distance. I could give it, but it was safest not to get it back. Run and hide if you see it coming. It was like a rose with a bomb inside. For this and many reasons my path to self love was long, but because of my Shepherd, it was fulfilling. I always felt that I was loved from above.
God’s love was real and safe. I don’t ever remember being without it. As a child I had long conversations with God. I would ask God to take me away and give me to a family who would love me. God told me that He loved me; but that I was with the family I was supposed to be with. God told me that I would be all right. God was always there. It helped. Through my own faith, I was able to see the light that is always in the darkness. I would hear God say, “Yep, it’s quite a mess here, but if you give up now, you’ll miss the amazing finale I have planned for you.” It kept the pain in the category of temporary, which somehow lessened its intensity.
I can’t remember the first time that I heard Psalm 23, nor do I remember the context in which it was read to me. What I do remember was that from the moment that I did hear it, this indescribable feeling of security and love that I had inside of me during times of suffering and loss finally made sense.
The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want. I realized that with the Lord as my Shepherd I would always be safe, and I would never want. Wanting is subjective, but what it really means is that we shall never lack what we really need. I guess that is subjective too, but if you have faith, you know that you are not the ultimate authority on that either. Each moment of my journey through the valley of the shadow of death, I know that I will never hit bottom. I know that I will always be saved or be prepared. So many people laughed at me, at my seeming so out there, so stupid.
I heard so many times that I could never succeed in the material world that it became my reality. When it came time to go to college, my mother told me that the best I could hope for was that some man would come along and support me. This was not God’s plan, and the day would come when my mother would see that I was good enough to succeed. He anointed my head with oil, truly my cup did run over. I managed to succeed in the material world long enough to know that I could, and to learn that it was not to be where my success or my happiness could ever be.
Through each difficult period in my life I have found that I could feel a consoling presence, hear in my head words that helped. God’s rod and staff were always there. During times when my life takes an unexpected good turn I know that God is preparing a table before me. When I feel drained, I know that He will restore my soul. When I am lost or inundated with too much noise, He makes me lie down in green pastures and leads me within to the Still waters that are His love. When I was overwhelmed in my business and in the demands of my life I became very ill. I had to stop working – not what one would call green pastures – but for me, an over responsible workaholic, God only knows I’d only lay down if I was too ill to work. So for me, illness brought me to the green pastures and still waters that I needed to heal my soul. I know that as long as I follow Him in the paths of righteousness, goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life. If I could sum up my entire life, it would be Psalm 23.
We are all walking through the valley of the shadow of death, but it is just that, a shadow. There is no such thing as death.
“The unreal never is; the Real is never not. This truth indeed has been seen by those who can see the true…The Eternal in man cannot kill: the Eternal in man cannot die.” (Bhagavad-Gita)
We are in a world surrounded by things that pass away from us. Death is transformation to a new state of existence and that is a part of all that is material and we live in the shadow of that world. “For all things born in truth must die, and out of death in truth comes life. Face to face with what must be, cease though from sorrow”… “My mysterious cloud of appearance is hard to pass beyond, but those who in truth come to me go beyond the world of shadows” (Bhagavad-Gita)
When we shine the light of God upon our fears they vanish. We are never alone, we are always protected always guided by friends and loved ones, those we can see and those we cannot. Most of all, the Lord is our Shepherd.
In this book I refer often to words attributed to Jesus Christ and I make many references to God. Whether it is Jesus Christ, Krishna, Mohammed, or Buddha, they are all one light. They perhaps one soul sent to speak to different people in the language that each would hear. Yet they are lights, emanations of the One God, the One Light, The Way, the Tao and even the Void.
My writing will be very hard to comprehend for people who worship God as an old White man and his Son who sit on thrones in the clouds. When I speak of God and of Jesus Christ I am speaking of a Divine Power that is All There Is and that created All There is, of a limitless Perfection and its’ messenger, who appeared as Moses, Buddha, Krishna and many other physical forms or Words that could be understood by those for whom it appeared . It is the Word in all Languages. What is central in all religions and paths.
“This Cross of Light is sometimes called Logos by me for your sakes, sometimes mind, sometimes a door, sometimes Jesus, sometimes Christ, sometimes seed, sometimes resurrection, sometimes Son, sometimes Father, sometimes Spirit, sometimes life, sometimes truth, sometimes faith, sometimes grace; and so it is called for men’s sake. But what it truly is, as known in itself and spoken to us is this, it is the distinction of all things, and the strong uplifting of what is firmly fixed out of what is unstable, and the harmony of wisdom being wisdom being harmony…”. It is time for those who have ears to hear.”
(Acts of John – V teachings and Proverbs 98)
I feel guided as I write because I learn as I do so. But maybe it is just my opinion or my observation, but I feel the need to share it because so much has been shared with me.
The world around us is shrinking. The spaces between nations are diminishing. Our ignorance of conditions around the world is diminishing. As the web connects people over vast spaces – our differences are diminishing. As our understanding increases our hatred and fear will diminish. This is important because the earths natural resources are also diminishing. We need to consider the question, “What if all that we have left is each other?” We need to begin to rethink the meaning of words like, family, community, and home.