The Pagan Path

Those who wonder are not lost; they are trying to awaken! 'The Sleeper must awaken!'

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

From Evolution to Revolution: Scripture as Allegory

This may come as a surprise to many, but the Bible is not a science book! Even further than that, while it is a history book, of sorts, it is not a history of the world, as in the entire creation. It is a covenantal history of a peculiar ( particular ) people, one through whom the Creator God choose to reveal Himself to His Creation. I've said it before & I'll say it again, 'the Story of Scripture is the Story of Israel!' Much as we'd like to think it's all about us, it's not; it speaks to us, resonates with us, yes, but first & foremost, it's solely about a certain group of people in the Ancient Near East ( ANE ); furthermore, it's written in a way that is quite unfamiliar & fairly strange to our western mindset!

Strange as it may seem, Abraham, contrary to our reading of Genesis 22:1-19, need not necessarily have tried to kill his own son in order for the account to shadow the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, some millenia later. This is not to say the story in Genesis is not true & factual, only that stories like this have been fashioned to foreshadow the coming of the Messiah of Israel. There are many other such accounts, or occurrences, in Israel's history which serve to point to the Messiah, for example, the Law itself, as stated by the apostle Paul, 'was our tutor [ to bring us ] to Christ' ( Galatians 3:24 ). Here too, we must understand that Paul spoke, not to us, but to his fellow Israelites, in the 1st century!

It is without doubt & beyond question that this Creation, this universe ( multiverse? ), is the product of Intelligent Design! Much as many scientists would like to prove to the contrary, beauty & symbiosis like we witness on a daily basis does not just happen; it HAS to have been orchestrated & engineered by Someone or Something 'smarter than the average bear', so to speak! The theory of evolution as put forth most famously by Charles Darwin, the notion that mankind evolved from a single-celled organism & that the universe ( stars, planets & such ) is simply the manifestation of a random event known as 'The Big Bang' is not totally without merit. Though we know, as Darwin & others like him fail to ascribe to, that this was all the work of the Creator God, it is not outside the realm of genuine possibility that these are the means that were used to bring about all this beauty. Science has made great strides, in fact, toward this end, though maybe inadvertently!

The discovery of subatomic particles like the Higgs boson, the development of things like 'string theory', Quantum Mechanics & such have given scientists a boost in their search for understanding! Though many seek this knowledge in the vain hope of denying the Creator, many more, through these findings, have no doubt developed an even greater respect for the Master Builder.  The fact that all of these things work together to orchestrate the symphony of Life should be enough to convince even the most ignorant & stubborn of us yet falls on blind ears!

Even with such great leaps forward, mankind knows fairly little about how the universe ( or multiverse? ) was formed, much less, the intricacies of its clockworks, so to speak! By means of the Large Hadron Collider, a multi-million ( or is that 'billion'?? ) dollar project over in Switzerland, scientists have 'created' one of the subatomic particles they believe may be responsible for the 'Big Bang', or the formation of the we know it. It may very well be that this process, or one very like it, is indeed responsible for the glories of 'the heavens', but, as I would love to ask of any Darwinian Evolutionist, 'where did the particle come from?'

Was there an actual Man named Jesus who was in fact the Creator God incarnate? Did He indeed suffer on a literal cross for the sins of His People? We have faith that He did & now lives within us, leading us in the Way of Righteousness, to love the Creator God with all our heart, mind & strength, to love our neighbor as ourselves & to treat others as we would have others treat us! However, much of what we read in Scripture is related in such a way, through metaphor, similitude & allegory, as to represent a certain truth, a truth that might not be plainly accepted if plainly told. The Gospel accounts all serve to witness to the fact that the Creator God did indeed love His Creation so much that He sent His only ( begotten ) Son, that whoever belives in Him should never die, but have eternal life!

The Scriptures, as many Christians have begun to discover, were not written to us, though they are for us, being applicable to our own situations in many areas! Even reading the Bible with our Western mindset & particular point of view, humanity has made great leaps towards discovering the true nature of the Creator God & our relationship with & to Him/Her/It. As mankind continues to work out the implications of the fact that our Western thought-processes might not cut it, so to speak, we will continue to grow in the knowledge that we are indeed One with the Creator God, being of the same Essence!

May we ever use that Knowlege for good & not for evil,
Charles Haddon Shank

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

'Is There Anybody Out There?' or 'Realms of Glory'

The Hebrew Scriptures, the Psalms in particular, are very clear that the Creator God, 'Yahweh' to the Hebrews, makes His home in 'the heavens', or, more traditionally, 'Heaven'. When it comes to a description of 'Heaven', though, things get a bit cloudy, so to speak! Jesus' parabolic story of the rich man & Lazarus in Luke 16 describes it as a place of comfort: David & the other Psalm writers simply use the word 'heaven' or 'heavens'  ( 'Hebrew-shamayim-'lofty, the sky ) & speak of it as a 'place' that is higher, or more elevated than us. The closest we get to an actual description of 'Heaven', probably, in the entire Scriptures, is in the Revelation, where John offers us his very typological ( or is that 'anti-typical'? ) description of the throne room. The point is, our traditional notion of 'heaven', with 'a harp, a home, a crown', is not really supported by Scripture, but is almost pure speculation-no, I didn't forget the 'mansions' that Jesus promised in John 14, but as we've discussed in previous posts, these simply refer to those souls which have welcomed the knowledge of the Creator God!

The fulfillment of Scripture, in the past tense, anyway, seems to present modern Christianity with many problems, one of which is that if eschatology is indeed in the past & the Kingdom of God, or Heaven has come to Earth, then where DOES the Creator call home?! We have also explored previously in this blog, in a number of posts, that Jesus promised, also in John 14 ( 23 ), 'If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him'. The objection might well be made here, such as, 'Though God, in the Spirit, HAS made His home in our 'hearts', He is STILL omnipresent, dwelling in 'Heaven'!' As the case may be, the Creator God, although He/She/It, as promised, has made His/Her/Its Home with mankind, I'm certainly NOT saying that the Creator of the Universe has been relegated to one certain 'place', the 'hearts' of His/Her/Its People!

Is there an actual 'place' out there somewhere in the Universe, called 'Heaven', or is 'Heaven' or the realm of the Creator God ( some would call it simply 'Energy' ) in another dimension altogether, as has been  speculated about on this blog of late? I must say, I've heard it put forth by certain Christians that 'Heaven' is actually a certain physical location, somewhere in the Universe, where the Creator God dwells with His Son, Jesus the Christ, in His human form, no less, who sits at His right hand, 'whence He shall judge the living and the dead'! This is actually the traditional Christian doctrine of 'Heaven', more or less & while it does agree with Scripture, also ends up denying what Jesus Himself promised!

What if 'Heaven' IS simply in another dimension? The words of Jesus, for example in John 18:36, 'My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.', would seem to make some sense. It is true, some research will easily show that the 'world' of which Jesus spoke here ( Greek-kosmos ) was the 'world' of the 1st-century Jews, but we may infer that, since Jesus used  'kosmos' rather than 'oikoumenÄ“', that the entire Creation, of which we are only a very small part, may be in view here!

Jesus' promise as recorded in John 14:23 does not state specifically where, in us, the Great Spirit would make Its Home, but, as we have loosely maintained that it is in our 'heart', I will leave it up to private speculation as to what might be meant by 'heart'-most certainly not the biological organ! The mind, or even brain, might more specifically indicate the dwelling-place of 'God in the Spirit', as this is primarily the seat of knowledge & might be called 'the physical manifestation of the spirit'.

Eschatologically speaking, Jesus promised that He would return in His Father's glory to the generation of people then living: though some died before that generation had passed away, many had not & to say that He did not is to deny this very important truth! Jesus also taught His disciples to pray, 'Your kingdom come.
Your will be done o
n earth as [ it is ] in heaven' & though it might well be interjected here that Jesus simply instructed them to pray that His Father's will be done on earth 'as [ it is ] in heaven', rather than that His Kingdom should come to earth, it has been almost universally accepted that it what Jesus meant!

The Glory of the Creator God is definitely NOT limited to this heavenly realm, or dimension, if you will; its all around us! Call it 'Energy', call it 'God', call it 'the Universe' ( even 'Mother Earth' ), it is obviously manifested in & through us, as well as the Creation that surrounds us. When we call upon our Heavenly Father, the Energy that makes up our very being, or the Universe itself, we pray, not so much to a Force outside us, but to One that is Within us as well; One that is a part of us, One that makes up our very existence!

Charles Haddon Shank

Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Pneumatophoric Human, or, The Human Animal

What sets us, as human beings, apart from all the other animals, or created beings? Most people, probably more or less correctly, would immediately say something like, 'human beings have souls'. The human animal, one might say, unlike other animals, has learned to codify ( ? ) spoken language & to live morally, in civilization, but then, the tables could easily be turned, showing that many human beings act worse than any wild animal! There have been studies done that show that many so-called 'wild' animals seem to have more morality & live more civilized lives than many human beings.!

The phrase, 'all dogs go to heaven', though it has waned in popular use over the past decade or so, is still very much alive, in concept anyway! Ask most any pet owner nowadays, especially the older ones & they will tell you their pets are their 'kids'. In fact, some of them will tell you they like them better than most humans! In some sense, one can't really blame them! Over the past year or so, it has become popular when one's pet has died, to say that they have 'passed over the rainbow bridge' & will be waiting for them once they too, 'pass over the rainbow bridge'. No matter the case, whether or not these beloved pets will be reunited with their owners in some sort of after-life or not, one thing is abundantly clear to anyone who 'owns' one of these animals; they ARE possessed of some sort of spirit & while they might not possess the intelligence & abilities we, as human beings, do, it is evident they do communicate with each other!

Human beings, while in most cases a step or so above the other animals, have traditionally been regarded as special, largely because of a misunderstanding of the first chapters of Genesis! The misunderstanding is that the creation account in Genesis 1 & 2 is a record of the beginning of Time. The 'creation' of Adam & Eve has always been understood by the majority of Christians as the actual foundation of the human race. Science has proven beyond any reasonable doubt, however, that human beings roamed the planet long before the genesis of biblical history!

When Genesis 2:7 records that the Creator 'breathed into his nostrils the breath of life', we should understand that, like in the prophet Ezekiel's vision ( Ezekiel 37:9 & 10 ), it was not biological life that came over Adam & Eve, but spiritual, or covenantal. It was awareness of the Creator that came upon them that 'day', awareness that the Architect of the universe was not a cold, faceless Being, but one that sought blessed relationship with those He ( She/It ) had created.

Human beings have doubtless been endowed with the Spirit of Life! While Scripture tells a Story of that Life being awakened within humanity, it also gives us what might be noted as a clue, a glimpse into the whole concept that even animals, as creations of the Great Architect, are not without the blessings of the Spirit of Life! Humankind could, in fact, learn many an important lesson from what we have traditionally called 'dumb' animals; some have noted these important lessons & embraced their more or less elevated status, while others have chose to remain ignorant & hopelessly flounder in what might be called 'the primordial ooze'!

The Human Animal, having been chosen, biblically speaking, as the engine through which the Creator would become One with His ( Her/Its ) Creation has a larger brain capacity than most domesticated animals, to be sure, but there are many yet in the wild who's brain capacity is much larger than ours! Although it cannot be proven, I believe that the brain is the physical manifestation of the spirit, so therefore, according to that reasoning, the bigger the brain, the higher intelligence manifested by the controlling spirit. This theory, of course, is not 'water-tight', but one has to wonder why some humans seem to have 'pea-', or even bird-brains', while some of these 'dumb animals', whether domesticated or yet wild, seem possessed of greater intelligence?

As a race, humans have enjoyed an ascendancy, especially with 'The Dawn of Civilization', over the other animals; indeed, Scripture itself tells the Story of how Adam & Eve were given dominion over the rest of the 'creation', including the animals. With the advent of such life-changing concepts as Covenant Creation & the notion that Adam & Eve were not the progenitors of the human  race, one might begin to wonder; 'if the animal mentioned throughout Scripture were not actually animals at all, but human beings of lesser intelligence, or awareness, then maybe we were not necessarily given the dominion over these 'dumb animals', as we thought, but rather, maybe we should understand that it's really just a Story about how Israel was the Creator God's tool whereby He brought all into subjection under Him!'

If we can get past the notion that wild or domesticated animals ( as opposed to the human animal ) are there only for our pleasure, maybe we can begin to to learn from them how to be truly civilized! Although human beings normally have a larger brain capacity than most domesticated animals, it is by no means a given that they use it to its full capacity; some animals, on the other hand, seem to exceed their brain capacity! We could learn a lot from what we call 'dumb animals' & while some have learned some life-altering lessons, others have failed to see this most important of truths, continuing to treat their fellows, whether human or 'mere' animal, as simply their next 'meal-ticket'!

Charles Haddon Shank

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

'( The ) Christ Lives in Me'!

'Why do you call Me good?[f] No one [ is ] good but One, [ that is ], God.'
Matthew 19:17 -NKJV

With verses like Jeremiah 17:9 & Psalm 14:3, 'The heart [ is ] deceitful above all[ things ], and desperately wicked; who can know it?' & '[ There is ] none who does good, no, not one' ringing in their ears, it is no wonder that some Christians today feel that they themselves, even though they believe they house the Holy Spirit, are not good, even worthless! The apostle Paul, in his letter to the Church at Rome ( Romans 7:15 ), writes, 'For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do'. Although it may seem difficult, in this corrupted world that we inhabit, to say these verses no longer apply today; even among Christians, one would be hard-pressed to say this is no longer the case. The desires, the longings that all of us, if we're honest with ourselves, feel on a daily basis, make us feel that the words above apply to every human being ever born!

The funny thing about context is that it must be correctly understood, in order to correctly understand any certain verse! Both historically & covenantally speaking, context determines interpretation, so when we read in Scripture, '[ There is ] none who does good, no, not one', we can see, in context, that the Psalmist is saying that there is no such thing as a good fool, in particular, one who says, '[ There  is ] no God' ( Psalm 53:3 ) When the prophet Jeremiah seemingly denigrates the 'heart' of humanity, the context makes clear he is speaking of a specific people; In speaking of 'The sin of Judah', using similar language to that of the Psalmist, Jeremiah decries the fact that the heart of these people ( Psalm 53: 4 ) is 'deceitful above all[ things ], and desperately wicked'. This is not to say that every thought of our 'heart' is now completely pure ( in a puritanical sense), because, as we can all attest to, everyone has an 'impure' thought at least once a day, whether it's sexual in nature, or just wanting to take an unwarranted jab at someone!

Reading the words of Jesus, in Matthew 19:17 above, those who carry a more modern ( or ancient, as the case may be ) version of the Bible, rather than seeing Jesus denigrate His Humanity, might rather understand that He was reminding the rich young ruler that the Jewish Law told him how to be good: it was their own law that told them to love God & their neighbor as themselves! The apostle Paul, seemingly on the other hand, writes about what most deem his personal struggles in Romans 7:13-25; however, context again must determine our interpretation of his words! Paul, although like the rest of us understood his natural longings & desires, nevertheless was warning his contemporaries against their main adversaries, as he did in all his letters. It was not Roman, but Jewish Law that told them, 'You shall not covet'. As with the rich young ruler, Paul pointed out that it was their own law that condemned them, not their inherent nature. Previously, in the same passage, the apostle had given them this caveat; 'But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not [ in ] the oldness of the letter', much like he wrote later ( 8:1 ) to the same Body, '[ There is ] therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus,[a] who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit'.

Because of the glorious fact that 'Christ lives in me' ( Galatians 2:20 ), the apostle Paul realized that, though the Body of Israel had become dead through their own law, those who walk 'according to the Spirit', were no longer under that law & thus its condemnation! In this day & age, one might argue, the corruption that the apostle mourns in his letter to the Romans is alive & well on planet earth. It would seem that they are right, because we bear witness to much depravity that is sounds very similar to what they witnessed in Paul's, even Jesus' own day! However, we understand through context, both historical and covenantal, that we, particularly as Christians, living in the 21st century, are not under that law. While common sense tells us still that to covet another's belongings will only get us in trouble, it is no longer the Law that condemns us, but we ourselves!

While Christians traditionally have well understood the glorious fact that we are not under the condemnation of the Law; it seems there are many who fail to realize the gravity of 'Christ lives in me'! Going back to Romans 7, Paul lamentingly states that 'I am carnal, sold under sin': as a representative of the Body of Israel, Paul realized that, even though they had the Spirit, the Comforter ( John 8 & 14 ), as long as they were under the thumb, so to speak, of the Jewish economy & while the Temple still stood, they were still in captivity, according to the flesh.  Once Jesus had been revealed as the very Son of God from Heaven & having ended the Jewish economy with their reign of terror, even that Law which had plagued the Body of Christ was taken out of the way, having proven to be contrary to the Israel of God ( Colossians 2:14 ). With, as I call it, the Marriage of Heaven & Earth, we have become One with our Heavenly Father, not in the sense that we have become Him, as in the Creator, but as in marriage itself, wherein we are consumed by the same desire!

Although we still fail, to one degree or another, to fulfill the Law of Love, this is not to say that we have failed our humanity! Because the Spirit of Him who 'loved the world' ( John 3:16 ) lives in us, we have been empowered to do what is right; we WANT to do right, not that we always do. Even so, as the apostle wrote to the Church at Rome, 'now, [ it is ] no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me', he realized that, with the Revelation of Jesus as the Christ & the destruction of the Jewish economy, the dwelling of God was now with man ( John 14:23 ), no longer would sin dwell with him or his brethren!

Our desires, even as Christians, seem to often bring us in conflict with the Law of God! However, we must ask ourselves; 'do we really flout the Law of Love, or do we simply fail to live up to it, condemning ourselves in the process?' If the Law does not condemn us, even the Law of Love, then why should we? We are not fools, to deny the Creator & we do not, as Israel according to the flesh, persecute His people. Our failure to always love as we are Loved does not denigrate our humanity; rather, through our failure, we understand our weakness, our finiteness, our physicality!

As we strive, in our humanity, to love our God ( Creator, Father ) & our neighbor as ourselves, we can be sure, even as Paul was, that we serve in the Spirit, bet even more, we live, not in the old 'flesh', but in the new biology, one that relies, not on laws, but on the Spirit! With the apostle, let us live in the Spirit, for we do not live in the flesh; we never have!

Charles Haddon Shank

Monday, January 09, 2017

The Drowning of Atlantis, the Plagues of Egypt & the Exodus Theme of the Hebrew Scriptures

Many have noted the theme of exodus from oppression throughout the Scripture, but still, seemingly contrary to history, affix a literal & supernatural interpretation to the Exodus Story, as passed down to us in the book of the same name! This is not to say that the events laid out for us in the book did not actually happen, nor is it to say that there was nothing supernatural about the event; this is simply to say that the events need not happened, either chronologically or exactly as they are so colorfully & poetically described, in order for them to have taken place. As we can ascertain in the New Testament, in particular, this Exodus Theme is significant of the Gospel of Jesus, who was the Christ; as He was typified by the leader of the original exodus, Moses; Jesus figuratively & really led His people out of the bondage of Sin & Death, which had been typified by Egypt & in His own time, by Israel according to the flesh!

The funny thing about myths is that they are usually ( however loosely ) based in historical fact & so, I imagine, is Plato's reference to the mythical island of Atlantis! If Atlantis ever actually existed ( some say 'yes, while others say 'no'; it should be clear that such a place, though probably not literally accurate according to legend, probably did, at some point in time exist. Though it was most likely not call 'Atlantis'; it is probably fairly safe to speculate that Plato's reference was not original, as he claimed. Most modern critics theorize that 'Atlantis' was merely an allegory for some sort of utopia, a vision of 'the perfect society', while others have striven to prove that such a place did, at one time, exist, though maybe called by another name. Whether it did once exist or whether it IS just an allegory, Atlantis stands forevermore as a legend & an ideal to be sought after by those who believe in the innate goodness of humanity!

The fact that the magicians of the Pharaoh's court, as reported in the book of Exodus, were able to duplicate the first two plagues that Moses pronounced on the Egyptians, as well as turning their staffs into serpents, has always interested me, but with no obvious explanation presenting itself, has remained a mystery to me, though I have been known to speculate on the matter in the past! Why were the Pharaoh's magicians able, like Moses, to bring frogs upon the land, as well as turn the water to blood, but were not able to duplicate the lice ( 'lice' may be a faulty translation here, as it is translated very differently in Isaiah 51:6 ). After this, the magicians seem to have given up, since the Story does not record them striving anymore, though it does record them acknowledging, 'This [ is ] the finger of God' ( Exodus 8:18 ). No matter why they were able to generate the frogs & turn the waters into blood, but were not able to duplicate the 'lice' & following plagues, one thing is clear, these plagues all had one thing in common; they were all natural occurrences!

By claiming that the Plagues of Egypt could all be explained naturally, I am by no means saying there was no supernatural causation; this IS our Father's ( the Creator's ) world after all & all things naturally occurring do so only through His almighty governance! According to my research, a certain  ( volcanic ) island in the Mediterranean Sea erupted quite massively around the time of the purported Exodus. As this eruption put the much more recent Mount St. Helens eruption to shame, it also could account for every single one of the Plagues of Egypt, even the famous 'Parting of the Sea' ( usually called the Red Sea, but more correctly, 'The Sea of Reeds ), though not necessarily in the same chronological order as the author of the book of Exodus recorded them. The resulting ash cloud, being much greater in scope than the fairly recent eruption in Washington state, could easily account for the darkness that the inhabitants of Egypt experienced, as well ( 'dare I say it?' ) the 'deaths of the firstborn'. 'Now that,' one might protest, 'is going too far; that was obviously supernatural!'

Truly, the plagues recorded in the book of Exodus were naturally occurring phenomena, though not necessarily everyday occurrences! The frogs & flies, for instance, could easily be explained by the dead fish resulting from the waters of the river turning to 'blood', which, in turn, might be explained by the fore-mentioned ash cloud, or even ocean currents from as far north & west as the northern Mediterranean Sea. 'If all the Plagues of Egypt may be explained away naturally', one might wonder, 'wouldn't that mean that the Exodus might not have actually taken place, that it's all just a big Story?' Well, it IS a big Story & that's precisely what we must keep in mind here; the Exodus account, as all of Scripture, was written in such a way, not necessarily chronologically, as to reveal a greater, spiritual truth!

Minoan civilization, of which the island of Thera, also known as Santorini, has been found to have been far advanced over any other ancient civilisation, so it would not be surprising to learn that it may have been the origin of the 'Atlantis' myth, or legend. When Mount St. Helens erupted in 1980, the effects were felt as far east as the Dakotas; when Thera erupted, 3,000+ years previously, it affected most of the known world! With the explosive force of hundreds of atomic bombs, Thera's ( underwater ) volcano, as the Finger of God, had more than the capability to rain down down devastation, not only on Egypt, but anything or anyone else unfortunate enough to be in its path!

It is quite likely that the Minoan civilization on Thera, or Santorini, was the genesis of the Atlantean myth! At the time & even looking back on such a society as must have resulted from such advancement, the Minoan civilization must have seemed almost 'utopian'; it certainly would have struck certain philosophers as an ideal society. In fact, there are those of our day who seem to think that all of our political contrivances & technological advances will usher in the vaunted 'Age of Aquarius', but so far, all we have seen is the lengths that humanity will go to maintain its power over others!

The Typology of Scripture is without doubt! As mentioned previously, The Exodus from Egypt typified the True Exodus, that from the bondage of Sin & Death, so in that sense at least, need not necessarily have happened in the exact way it is recorded in order to meet the necessary requirements. The Exodus, the True Exodus did occur; that is also without doubt: Israel met its Messiah, who led them in a Spiritual Exodus! The details, far from being unimportant, were obviously of great import to the original audience, the Hebrew people & those who followed them out of Egypt, but to us, living in the 21st century, the importance lies in the blessed fact that we are the benefactors of thatSpiritual Exodus, though we in turn, are saddled with the responsibility of leading others out of darkness into the everlasting light!

Charles Haddon Shank

Thursday, January 05, 2017

In Dreams We Soar

Deothora felt the wind rush against her face, in gentle remembrance of her mother's soothing touch when she had a fever. To her surprise, the landscape which opened beneath her was one which was almost totally foreign to her, yet, somehow, familiar! At first, she was startled by the fact that she was viewing this scene from such a great distance, but she felt no fear as her stable flight seemed to continue with no sign of ending. Dipping low over the mountain, Deothora tried flapping her arms in an effort to maneuver around the highest peaks, but she found that her arms were pinioned gently by her sides! Consciously taking more note of her immediate surroundings, Deothora found that, on both sides, she was firmly but gently being held by what appeared to be a large, furry, green paw ( or was it a hand? )! Craning her neck as far as she could, she followed the paw/hand back & upward till she found what she had sought for so long. The face she saw, except for the almost cartoonish goofiness, would almost have made one's heart skip a beat & indeed, hers almost did, that is, until she found herself gazing into the kindest, gentlest eyes she had ever seen. As Deothora hung there motionless, having forgotten for a time that she was hurtling at a gentle speed through the clouds, being held by some strange contrivance, she heard a gentle, but obviously powerful voice come out of that cartoonish, almost goofy face above her; 'oh good, you're awake'! When she finally found her voice, which seemed to have been removed from her, ever since she had awoken in such alarming, but peaceful surroundings, the first syllables Deothora was able to utter were, 'who are you? & 'where am I?' The gentle giant chuckled, one of those deep belly-laughs that dragons are famous for-yes this was an honest-to-goodness dragon; 'I am your dream come true' he roared-although it entered her ears as more of a comforting whisper. 'As to where you are,' the dragon continued, 'open your eyes & see!' 'It should be obvious where you are, for you have traversed this country many times!' Turning her wandering gaze downward once again & without even straining her eyes, Deothora discovered that she recognized many of her most favorite places! Having never seen them from this vantage point, though, they had not resonated in her memory, like they should have.

'You have always been so close to the ground', her furry friend said, 'you might not have noticed the beauty that was there all the time, just waiting for you to soar above it all!' Deothora found the view quite breath-taking as they continued to glide effortlessly through the clouds. Though she had experienced the wind in her face before, she had never imagined it could be this exhilarating, or......comfortable?! As high above the ground as they were & as swiftly as they were moving-although it felt like they were just out for a stroll-Deothora was amazed that she was not in the least bit cold! 'Of course', she thought, almost laughingly, 'I AM surrounded by fur!'

Deothora's heart had been captured by a dragon, which, if you know anything about dragons-or think you know-have gotten a bad rap! Dragons are pictured in many fairy-tales as almost the personification of evil. However, we who know, know that dragons are simply creatures like us! Okay, so they have wings to fly, but really, so do we! We can read a book, or even just sit with our eyes closed, listening to music & soar through the clouds of imagination. While our bodies are tethered to the ground-through the unseen force of gravity, or some such vain imagination-our spirits soar through the clouds, allowing us to rise above it all & appreciate the beauty that surrounds us, though too often it seems we can't see the forest for the trees!

Elothar-that was the dragon's name- had surprised Deothora in a dream one day, lifting her out of her slumber & giving her a view of her country that she had only ever imagined in her dreams! As they flew over the ever-changing landscape, Deothora began to relish the wind in here face; 'faster, faster!' she cried. Tilting his huge head down, her furry friend replied, 'if we go any faster, you won't enjoy the journey, my dear!' To prove his point, Elothar sped up his pace very minutely & THEN Deothora realized that she was beginning to feel the cold air they had been soaring through all along!  She had such a peaceful feeling, clutched in Elothar's giant paw,  that she had never before noticed the chill that was in the air, forming the very mists they were flying through!

Deothora had never experienced such bliss, though in her dreams she had always suspected that she had glimpsed it! Elothar had given Deothora more than just a glimpse, however; he had shown her how to rise above it all. He had shown her that, while in dreams we soar, even in our waking moments, we CAN rise above it all, see the beauty of the forest in which we live & enjoy the comfort & security which dragons may afford us. Soaring through the clouds, though, as Elothar & Deothora did that day, we must be ever careful to curb our speed, for if we try to go too fast, we may miss something along the way; as dragons know best, a slow, but steady, pace is best for both comfort & enjoyment!

As all good things must come to an end, as they say, so Deothora's flight of fancy came to an abrupt, but not uncomfortable conclusion! Elothar spoke to her in a tone that was both joyful & sad; 'our time together is over for now-do not say 'goodbye'-but never fear, always soar; I will see you in  your dreams!' As he spoke these parting words, Deothra felt the giant paws tighten about her in a kind of farewell hug & then, for what seemed like hours-though it couldn't have bee more than a minute or two-Deothora was soaring by herself, in a steady but gentle glide towards the country she had grown to love & the place she called Home. As her favorite bed rushed up to greet her, with its loving embrace, the gnawing realization finally hit her; 'WAIT, I remember you NOW!'

For Deborah,
Charles Haddon Shank