© 2019 Drew T. Noll

Friday, January 27, 2012

Cancer is more than Soul Deep

This morning, I began to dwell on the fact that my mom has been in the hospital, dying of cancer, and that a new twist has arisen. The doctor and nurses are no longer able, legally, to give out any information over the phone, unless it goes through her new, younger husband. Not going to dwell on that one... The nurse that I spoke with (just about, but not quite) said, "You don't have time to fly here from Israel."  Of course, that tells me that my mom is on death's doorstep and I won't be able to sit on the side of her bed and ask her questions about the other side, like I had done with my father (click here forthe blog-post link). I have to be OK with my last few conversations with her. I have to be OK… I just have to be.

This morning, while praying to the Master of the Universe, I had a thought about how all of Humanity is a kind of cancer, sort of like how Mr. Smith in the Matrix explains it, but not so superficially. He explained it as if humans were the cancer, moving from one place to the next, consuming the natural resources, and moving on, leaving a desolate wasteland behind. This is an interesting idea, but very shallow, if you think about it. I mean, where did it all come from and what does it all mean? Our behavior as a species is one thing, but we need to delve a little deeper to try and change our behavior, don't we? While praying this morning, I thought about how God gave us life, existence, physical form, and spiritual reality. He also gave us the ability to become sick. We are sick. We still contain all the beauty and potential of that first, spectacular Creation, but it has become dull and rotten. God gave us life and, in return, we gave God cancer. Thank God that God is the God of the Universe and can deal with cancer, as if it was nothing. To God, it must be nothing, but it must also be everything, at exactly the same time…

This morning, the power went out, right as I walked down the stairs to make coffee. Since I haven't been praying very much recently, I decided to daven to fill the dark, cold winter morning up with some light and some life. I figured that God must be wondering where I have been and that maybe, he would turn on the lights again after hearing from me. He did, right on time, hence my ability to drink a cup of coffee and write this blog post. I have really been struggling with my relationship to the Creator. This is something that I haven't had, quite like this, since my father's death. He died of a brain tumor. He was always a very mental character, one that retreated to his mind in time of crisis. He was a brilliant urban planner that designed cities, you know, how people live together. It must have been like designing a smart chip for a computer, with the pathways all intended for human beings to travel, instead of electrical impulses. His brain, when he got sick, slowly ate itself over the course of a year. His illness fit perfectly to his life. In the end, he was no longer able to retreat into his mind. He left this world with one foot in the spiritual realm, and one in the physical. His mind had stopped.

This morning, as I woke and promptly forgot to say the Modeh Ani Prayer to thank God for returning my soul to me, I flashed on the concept that my mother's cancer began in her womb, her uterus. I realized that her physical affliction seems quite connected to her life as a mother. She has, after all, been running from motherhood for a long time. It got really bad right about the same time she contracted cancer too… Hmmm… Just like my father ran from conflict to his mind, to avoid emotional difficulties, my mom ran from her children when under duress. She ran from her ability to create life. The cancer, I guess, just filled in the void that was left. She was a master manipulator with anyone that she wanted to impress and did so, very well. I guess I just miss her and, sadly, have for a while...

This morning, I decided to talk to the Universe, to connect to the Creator. It felt like I was battling the cancer that we have infected Humanity with, like I was healing the world, and at the same time, it kind of felt like I was healing myself.

Shabbat is coming and I need to shop, cook, and clean, so I will leave you with this:

Rosh Chodesh Tov and Shabbat Shalom!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Keep on Truckin

I almost kept going this morning… I was on my way to work, walking down the road next to the 1870 farmer's town of Zichron Yaakov, where I live, and thought, "What if I kept going, all the way to Fureidis, the Arab town at the bottom of the hill. Fureidis was named by the Crusaders when they passed through, looking around at the beautiful hills and calling it Paradise – the Arabs mispronounced it, since they can't pronounce 'P.' I almost kept going, even beyond Fureidis. I thought, "I should just keep going, all the way to Dor Beach, where Napoleonic ships still sit under the waves. The last time I was down at Dor Beach in the middle of winter, it was right after a huge storm and up the coast at Kibbutz Nahsholim, the hillside covered with ancient ruins from the Romans and Philistines had collapsed into the Mediterranean Sea. I wondered what it looks like now – with exposed artifacts and ancient stonework, maybe…

I almost kept going this morning… I thought, "What if I walked north up the beach from Dor and went to the HaBonim Nature Reserve?" I rode my bike once on one of the trails that meander around and got stuck in the sand, trying to get as far as I could until I fell over – wheels spinning. I could just keep on going, walking all the way down the white sand beaches to Atilt, where, in 1218, the Knights Templar on the Fifth Crusade began to build a fortress. In 1265, the Mamluks, under Sultan Baybars destroyed it and the ruins sit today, right next to the high security Israeli Navy Seals base and a brilliant little surf break that I need to sneak in and try some time. I could just keep on going…

I could just keep going north, along the beaches, all the way to Bat Galim (Daughter of Waves), where I surfed once when I was about 25 years old and where, in 2006, after the 2nd Lebanon War, I helped my sister-in-law assess the damage from falling rockets and flying ball-bearings that shattered windows, buildings, and civilian lives. The Merionite Christian community, which heavily dots the landscape in that neighborhood, took a large hit… I could just keep on going, all the way past the Haifa Port where our half-container that we shipped from the US sat for over a month during the war. We tried to get it through customs one day, but got lost just in time to miss a Hezbollah missile hit the Port, exactly when our appointment was scheduled for. I could just keep on going…

I could just keep going all the way to Akko, where the genius Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto, the Ramchal, died at the age of 33 with his family from the plague in 1740…something. Everything I know about Judaism, I attribute to him and his students, students, students… I could keep going, all the way across Akko's Old City, to the Bahai Gardens at Bahjí, which form a wide circle surrounding the historic mansion where Bahaullah, the founder of the Bahai faith, resided during the final years of his life and the burial chamber where his remains were laid to rest. The Bahai's were persecuted in Iran, their former holy land, and now Haifa, Israel is their holiest city. I could just keep on going…

I could just walk all the way to the white cliffs and pirate sea caves of Rosh HaNikra on the border of Lebanon, where I took my niece, 25 years ago, to ride the cable car and visit the now closed train tunnel. The coastal train was built in 1918 during the First World War by the British, who conquered the Palestinian Territories from the Turks and their allies, the Germans, in order to ensure the connection between themselves and the French, who had conquered Lebanon and Syria. The tunnel is closed now, for obvious reasons. I can't, therefore, keep going.

Maybe next time I will continue south on my trek along the beach. I could ride the wooden skate park and visit the internationally acclaimed fish ponds of Kibbutz Ma'agan Michael and continue down the beach to Jizer A-Zarqa, the Africanized, mosquito resistant, drug infested, Muslim worker's town that even the police are afraid to go into (and which, by the way, has an amazing left breaking point to surf). I could then continue down the beach, about 50 feet, to the other side of a wall, to a town that has the most expensive houses in Israel, Caesarea. The Israeli Prime Minister even lives there, right on the other side of the wall... I could continue south, past the fancy beach-front houses and international golf course, to the massive Roman ruins along the coast.

I could just keep on going… all the way down the beach towards Tel Aviv, to Kfar Vitkin, where the Altalena, a ship that in 1948 was loaded with weapons and explosives to help the fledgling state of Israel form, was destroyed and sunk by infighting amongst early Israeli political and independence groups. Not much has changed… I could just keep on going…

But, I stopped at the German, Christian, Amish-like, factory in order to build websites and brochures about nuclear, biological, and chemical air filtration and protection systems instead. I needed the shekels, so I went to work…

Shabbat Shalom!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Angels and Demons

Life has its ups and downs. I am starting to wonder if I am going through male menopause or something. Not to make little of female menopause, since I have absolutely 'no' idea what that must be like (kind of like giving birth); but, I just seemed to have been getting overwhelmed on every level imaginable over the last few months. My wonderfully insightful wife tells me that it must have something to do with my mother, who has been battling cancer, mental illness, and spiritual dismemberment. But, it is more than just that. For instance, when my mom began her most recent downward self-awakening realization, it was about the same time as my son was fighting for his position in the IDF. For those of you that don't know, he was in the Pilot's Course, not because he enjoyed flying or had dreamed about it for his entire life, but because he just found himself there. He passed all the tests and got in. He didn't like flying. Even when he was a kid he hated roller-coasters. He hated loud noises and ran from fireworks. Anything that caused him to extricate from the 'known' agenda, the path at hand, he was adamantly against. Yes, this is why he fell from the course. After 10 flights, doing all kinds of acrobatics and 'who knows what,' he fell. He doesn't like to fly. Well, he is OK with flying, I guess, since he is still in the Air Force, but he just doesn't like to 'drive' the plane...

At every step of the way, I was rooting for him to succeed. I prayed about it, I dreamed about it, and I encouraged him about it, all to try and give him as 'much' as I possibly could for him to succeed at being… 'him.' I even sent my angels to him, so much so, that I would find myself feeling physically ill at times. What, are angels an imaginary thing to you? Well, they aren’t to me. I have been around long enough and learned enough to know that we live in a temporal place, a place of action. What we do matters in this world, both here and beyond. So, I sent my angels to help him be 'him.' I also sent them to my mother when she was diagnosed with cancer, which, since it was about the same time, I was left feeling quite weak and overwhelmed by life. I started getting tripped-up with the foreign language that I need to speak every day, I started to become more challenged with a potentially dead-end job, I started getting more and more frustrated with the pig-headedness of the locals all around me, and I even had my first ever (in 5 1/2 years) doubts about moving my family to the Middle East. Israel had lost its allure, my praying became much harder to accomplish, as I lost that 'special' feeling I used to get when wearing Tefillin (phylacteries), I began to seek distractions in this temporal world, and I stopped writing for the most part.

So, what do you do when you fall down? I guess the Psalmist said it best: "A righteous man falls and gets up 7 times…" So, it must 'all' be about getting up, then. It's like the whole City of Refuge thing in the Torah. There is a law that states that a person, who inadvertently kills someone, must flee to a City of Refuge. We are even commanded to erect signposts on every crossroads to direct the murderers when they fall down. We aren't commanded to erect signposts to direct the pilgrims to Jerusalem, but murderers to a place of safety, a place of refuge from 'justified' revenge seekers. The fallen are encouraged to get up again, and again, and again...

So, since my angels had mostly fled (at my command of course), I found that in order to get up again, to get my angels to rally once more, I had to reach down into my roots. What is it that I have always done, what I have always had, the way that I used to attract my angels to do my spiritual bidding? That was easy for me. I have been making art since I was in in Mr. Gillespie's third grade class (you know the word for artist in Hebrew is Amen, as in faith, belief, etc…). So, while continuing to fall in many areas in my life, I attempted to get up again, and again, and again... I began to paint. For lack of a studio, I found that painting my kitchen cabinet doors was an adequate solution, so I painted them. I painted a mural that spanned my newly gained knowledge of the philosophically driven origins of existence – of the meaning of life and my journey within it. With monsters and devils, with angels and visions, with this world and the one before, I have been making a physical representation of my life, the world we all live in, and what may come to be. I have been trying to pick myself back up…

Amen and Shabbat Shalom!

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