© 2019 Drew T. Noll

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Sixth Day



At work the other day, I was having a great day. It was morning and I had many, many cabinets to make. It had just rained and the day before it was so clear that I could see Har Hermon from my mirpeset (porch). Har Hermon is a mountain on the borders of Syria, Lebanon, and Israel. It is the place that (Bisrat Hashem ye’heyea sheleg) we will go snowboarding this year. There is no out-of-bounds skiing there. The area is surrounded by a military presence and Syrian mine fields that were left from the last war. You still can hear stories of cows wondering off and becoming instant hamburger from an ill fated step. That little story is a side step to this one so to get back on point; at work that day, I was feeling really great. The rain felt good, and my nephesh (soul) was content and happy.

Often times at work I start writing a story or blog in my head and later write it down. Recently, I had studied a text or two with my friend Moshe about the sixth day of creation, deepest, darkest Africa, and other shadowy places both in the spirit and in the real world. This started the ball rolling on one of these stories in my head. I become really inspired but the weird part was that the more I thought about it, the worse I began to feel. The day went by really fast and before I new it, it was almost time to go home. Just a little while before this I had stopped thinking about the story in my head and this seemed to help the way I felt. At the time, I thought, maybe it just isn’t time to get into a story like that. It is a very charged idea and has many, many ramifications for me. The thought crossed my mind that I could also just simply be getting sick.

Having had this episode at work reminded me of another similar occurrence in my life when I had an emotional and physical connection to something such as this. I was in Collage at U.C. Santa Barbara and was involved in an art history class. My professor was a local expert on the customs of the North American Indians and as it happens African art and customs from the Ivory and Gold Coasts. He had collected ancient masks and artifacts from these regions and was sponsoring an exhibit with some of his and other barrowed artifacts. The students in one or two of his classes were invited to be involved in a marketing scheme for the exhibit. We were asked to wear the masks of these ancient cultures from deepest, darkest Africa. We were to create a procession around the campus doing a traditional dance and act out the original African tribal custom to spark the interest of the other students and faculty.

We had a choice of masks to wear. There were many white (good spirit) masks that were mostly chosen by the women to wear and there were only a few black (evil spirit) masks. Strangely enough, these were chosen by only men. The few men that were chosen to continue with the masquerade were warned of the dangers before hand. These were not physical dangers but spiritual. You see, these masks were worn by only the greatest of shaman from the villages where they were made and the tradition was that the masks contained the energy of the spirits that had worn them before. As it happened, my mask was one of the oldest. It could easily have been 100, 200, even 300 years old and when I first put it on, I could sense something sinister, something dark, within its husky texture and the smell of its peculiar history.

We were to parade around the campus, the evil spirit incarnations attached with chains that were held tightly by 6 good spirit incarnations. We all had a role to play as well. The good spirits were to flutter and chirp, in a characteristically good manner and the evil spirits were to growl, retch, and scream, in a characteristically evil manner. At first, because I was a bit shy, I was a little timid to really become the evil spirit incarnation. I remember thinking, “why didn’t I choose the good spirit mask?” oh yeah; I was also a man… so I got into it. I retched and I roared for about a half of an hour. As I did so, my stomach began to hurt. Then my head started in. was I getting sick? Maybe the smell of the mask or maybe just a lack of oxygen was getting to me. Or maybe… it was the smell of the history of the mask. My mind began to race as I screamed and growled while being led about by these good spirits with there chains clanking. At one point, I remember that I began to sense real fear in the women under the good spirit masks (maybe just the good spirit in me). This is when I decided that I had had enough. I was either going to feint or loose myself for good into the dark depths of the evil incarnation in that mask. We stopped and I took off the mask. The world around me swirled a bit. I was wet with sweat and I remember that I felt so good to be in the air, the clean fresh sea air. The women, I sensed, were still afraid of me as I sat there on the curb. They left me and the professor came out to check on me. He had an understanding look on his face… as if he had been there… done that.

So, I did get a little sick after that day at work and I also decided to continue with the story that I hatched in my head. I found that I just needed to balance it with some good, uplifting spiritual energy and ultimately give it the respect that it deserved. I believe that there are more things to this world then what we see. There is a place that we all sense something more, just around the corner. Sometimes it is good and sometimes, we know that it is not.

My Son Zach told me a story the other day about how one night while he was on his way to a friends house that he avoided going through a field that was the most direct route. He walked all the way around it, just from a feeling that something was not right. Maybe it was just wild pigs snorting in the underbrush, ready to battle for their territory, or maybe it was more… (“And G-D said, “Let us make Man in Our image, after Our likeness. They shall rule over the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and over the animal, the whole earth, and every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.”… And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.) Tradition states that something else was created before dusk of the sixth day commenced to illustrate the point to us that it is OK to let something stay unfinished when the Shabbat comes in. G-D chose to create something that was never to be complete and to this day, it haunts us in our dreams and in dark places all over the earth. Maybe it is just human intuition, common psychology, or biological impulses in our brains that warn us of danger and impending doom… I think it is more and as such, deserves respect.

Sun Tzu on the Art of War wrote, “All war is based upon deception.”

The truth is here, inside us… waiting just to be unmasked.

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