Posted in Passover/ Pesach, Pentecost/ Shavuot, Tekoa Manning, TM, Unleavened Bread

Blankets of Light

This morning while sitting outside with coffee, I noticed two birds flying toward me and then over my head. One was dark, resembling a raven. The other was as white as a dove. I stopped, mesmerized in disbelief. They flew side by side like friends on a journey. In swift thought, my brain asked, “Was that a white dove? No, surely not.” I gazed up again steadily, and just before they passed over my house, the birds’ wings fan out above me. They are as white as snow and as black as soot. I am awe-struck. My mind then began calculating events concerning an Ark and Noah, Elijah, and the ravens that fed him. Soon I am meditating on a Lamb and a Ruach Wind that appeared and descended like a dove on our Messiah–A dove whose white wings flapped mightily over the waters when HaShem said, “Let there be LIGHT” (Genesis 1:3). Out of thick darkness, light was born.

“In your days (Job), have you commanded the morning or assigned the dawn its place, that it might spread to the ends of the earth and shake the wicked out of it?” (Job 38:12-13, BSB).

Sometimes light stands in front of darkness. Sometimes a dove and a blackbird take flight side by side. There were two men on a cross next to Messiah–one cried out for light, and one remained in darkness.

And one of the evil-doers who were hanged was speaking evil of Him, saying, “If You are the Messiah, save Yourself and us.” But the other, responding, rebuked him, saying, “Do you not even fear Elohim, since you are under the same judgment?”

–Luke 23:39-40, BSB

Light stands before darkness every day in multiple situations, weighing much less than my description above. We are candles. We are to shine. “But if your eye is evil, all your body shall be darkened. If, then, the light that is within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” (Matthew 6:23, ISR). Evil eyes. What a concept. How we look at others through our eye gate can be with light or with darkness.  Yeshua said, “No one lights a lamp and covers it with a jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, he sets it on a stand, so those who enter can see the light” (Luke 8:16). A Lamb, the Light of the World, stood in the midst of darkness and did not open His Mouth.  “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so He did not open His mouth” (Isaiah 53:7, BSB).

Picture our words as blankets of light. Every soul on this planet was created with a divine flame inside them, even those who walk with evil eyes. Have you ever heard a conversation or watched a scene play out before your eyes that was so grievous, your whole insides were weeping, but on the outside, you could not flinch or appear at all like the conversation or surroundings you found yourself in bothered you? Perhaps it was a holy day on a sacred calendar that no one close to you realized was sacred. Maybe it was a death and burial of a soul created in the image of light that no one could find words to bring that were reminiscent of describing the person’s days under the sun. The people wore black, but no one spoke of the light that once shined out of the eyes of the person who now has left this place for another.

We must bring the light on our tongues.

Maybe you weep inside over a child you failed to teach properly– harmed by divorce, abuse, lack of attention, and instruction who now stands before you broken?

We must wrap them in light and hold them in love.

Maybe your grief is a date on a calendar. “You may have six months, or a year to live.” The doctors pronounce death over you, but you stand strong for your family. Inside, you are a grieving person trying to dance with your son, daughter, or spouse until your future is revealed. You drink in smiles and words, grasping them in your heart while holding on to faith and life in Messiah. A dark report does not put out your flame.

We must stand with our wicks trimmed and our lamps full of oil.

Possibly your grief erupts over a dark world you see filled with unrest, disease, idols, death, and lusts of the flesh boiling over in a pot of filth. But what if you saw the opposite too? The smile of a child in innocence. A butterfly landing beside you to remind you of transformation. The buds on the trees. Flowers popping up in colorful hues, red birds singing and wild violets poking their heads up through a field, a sun bursting forth to welcome the day as you thank Abba for coffee, tea, a breath.

Sometimes the light and darkness mingle, and this union causes a taint. Leading up to Passover, one year, I emptied half a bottle of 100% pure maple syrup with half a bottle of cheap pancake syrup. I was busy removing hametz. The Holy One said, “Bonnie you just mixed the holy with the profane.” I was horrified, but the Father was showing me more profound things.

“Do not become unevenly yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness? And what fellowship has light with darkness? Therefore, “Come out from among them and be separate, says יהוה, and do not touch what is unclean, and I shall receive you and I shall be a Father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me, says יהוה the Almighty” (II Corinthians 6:14, 17-18, ISR).

What is unclean right now during the feasts of unleavened bread is bread. Why? Because the Holy One said do not eat bread for seven days. Eat matzah for seven days. These are the Father’s appointed feasts. If our earthly fathers told us not to eat bread as a child, we would do good to obey them. How much more the One who created LIGHT?

“‘These are the Lord’s appointed festivals, the sacred assemblies you are to proclaim at their appointed times: The Lord’s Passover begins at twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month. On the fifteenth day of that month the Lord’s Festival of Unleavened Bread begins; for seven days you must eat bread made without yeast'” (Leviticus 23:4-6, BSB).

A Sacrifice is something we give up for something else. Our Messiah gave up His life for us. We give up yeast for unleavened bread.

“For when I brought your fathers out of the land of Egypt, I did not merely command them about burnt offerings and sacrifices, but this is what I commanded them: Obey Me, and I will be your God, and you will be My people. You must walk in all the ways I have commanded you, so that it may go well with you” (Jeremiah 7:22-23, BSB).

Adonai’s point was not to command them in the ways of offerings and sacrifices but to obey His Voice. Shema. Sometimes this looks strange to others.

A sacrifice is about us and not an animal. Many times we are in situations that cause us to make a sacrifice. We sacrifice a party, wedding, or event to rest in His Sabbath, or we sacrifice bread for a striped, scorched piece of matzah. In this sacrificial place of obedience, we notice that we are a peculiar people set apart to HaShem. The One who sent the darkness, palpable darkness, would also send an angel of death.

“Then the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward heaven, so that darkness may spread over the land of Egypt—a palpable darkness.”

So Moses stretched out his hand toward heaven, and total darkness covered all the land of Egypt for three days. No one could see anyone else, and for three days, no one left his place. Yet all the Israelites had light in their dwellings” (Exodus 10:21-23, BSB).

We have all found ourselves at work, a social setting, a party, a family gathering, or an event where darkness showed up. Darkness cloaked and draped in thick glee. Darkness wearing light like an angel. Darkness boasting in neon colors. Black draped words that fly and soar with edges– sharp points that stab and pierce. Words swathed in prideful mocking like Pharaohs or one of the thieves on the cross. Strange chatter where teeth bite and we chew people into pieces in one sentence and then try to mend them on sewing machines like a garment we’ve ripped in two like an offering or a dove with its head wrung off. We see the darkness in those around us as familiar and remember our own dwellings and journeys of learning the difference between the mundane and the holy. We recognize that we, too, have darkness that we battle. We realize we have far to go when compared to a Lamb that did not open its mouth.

white lamb on road

Photo-Nadia Supertino

When we are obedient and sacrifice our flesh on the altar, we are a sweet smelling fragrance unto Him.  “And this day will be a memorial for you, and you are to celebrate it as a feast to the LORD, as a permanent statute for the generations to come. For seven days you must eat unleavened bread. On the first day you are to remove the leaven from your houses. Whoever eats anything leavened from the first day through the seventh must be cut off from Israel” (Exodus 12:14-15, BSB).

Darkness shows up during seasons and appointed times. But darkness also reveals light. Are we learning about light in the darkness? Are we bathing and cleansing our eyeballs in light? Are we able to not open our mouth in the midst of darkness, mocking and scorn, like a lamb–a lamb we ate in haste that then resided in our bellies. Did you know Adonai made darkness His covering?

“And He bowed the heavens and came down, And thick darkness was under His feet. And He rode upon a keruḇ, and flew; He flew upon the wings of the wind. He made darkness His covering; Around Him His booth, Darkness of waters, thick clouds of the skies. From the brightness before Him, His thick clouds passed, hail and coals of fire.” (Psalm 18:9-12, ISR).

Kisha Gallagher author at Grace in Torah has an anointed blog on darkness and light that I feel everyone would do well to read. I had a disturbing dream months ago depicting darkness and light. Her blog post titled What the Darkness Reveals brought healing and revelation to my soul. You can find it HERE. Before I wrap up this post on light and darkness, I want to direct you back to the two birds. Unbeknownst to me, I learned that there could be albino blackbirds from my husband. A blackbird with a pigment deficiency becomes white.

See the source image

“Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are as red as crimson, they will become like wool.” (Isaiah 1:19, BSB).

We can often look white as a dove but be a blackbird with a skin issue—this is one topic I have written about often and more for my own good. It is the same issue that made Miriam white as snow. Lashon Hara/the evil tongue–leprosy. Words are more powerful than we know.

All the evils that men cause to each other because of certain desires, or opinions, or religious principles, are rooted in ignorance. [All hatred would come to an end] when the earth was flooded with the knowledge of God.” – Maimonides

The earth flooded with knowledge of a Holy God. A fearful Ruler and Creator of all life sent a dove with an olive branch in its mouth. What if we carried that olive in our mouth?

During the Omer count, a count that we are commanded to do by Elohim, we count up to the 49th/50th day of Pentecost or Shavuot in Hebrew. The Holy Spirit fell in the book of Acts as tongues of fire. Oh, how our tongues need to be baptized in fire. Oh, how we need sweet water and not bitter. Even when we think we are speaking life, correction, and encouragement, it is possible to speak death due to our own ignorance, pride, pain, or fears.

Sometimes light shines so brightly it hurts eyes and causes people to place their hands over their face–their fingers in their ears, or run away. Sometimes truth is so loud it is like wind that knocks us down. Sometimes we see through the lens of grief. We open our arms and hug people we see as blind, deaf, having tongues that need coals from the altar. We hold them close because we love them so, and we bathe them in all the light we have to give in that moment knowing we too deal with our own evil tongues and puffed up yeast. Perhaps the darkness senses our light and is changed in some way spiritually. Maybe we receive light from those we see bathed in yeasty darkness. Perchance we notice what is in our own hearts?

clear glass bulb on human palm

Photo Rohan Makhecha

May we see the dove this Shavuot/ Pentecost. May we be a blackbird with skin clothed in light pigments that turn us whiter–brighter. May our leprosy be cleansed as Moses cried out concerning his sister, “Heal Her!, we picture the Body of Yeshua and cry out too. May we wrap ourselves in chesed and loving-kindness that bubbles forth without our left hand knowing what our right hand is doing. May we eat unleavened bread with purpose and not rote. May we count up to the comforter, the Ruach Wind that hovers over our heads and purifies our hearts and burns the dross off our tongues which no man can tame. May we hold up two loaves of bread and shout for joy at the promise of redemption, the comforter, and the Messiah.

“My little children, I write this to you, so that you do not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Intercessor with the Father, יהושע Messiah, a righteous One.

And He Himself is an atoning offering for our sins, and not for ours only but also for all the world.

And by this we know that we know Him, if we guard His commands.

The one who says, “I know Him,” and does not guard His commands, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.

But whoever guards His Word, truly the love of Elohim has been perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him.

The one who says he stays in Him ought himself also to walk, even as He walked” (I John 2:1-6, ISR).

Posted in poetry, TekoaManning, TM

Darkness and Light

I stumbled across this poem written many years ago and decided to post it.

It was covering every windowpane
Darkness
Thick and draped and full of dust
A scent of mothballs
A hint of myrrh
And along the hearth a candle burns
Dripping wax
Collected things adorned on nooks
Coat racks and cluttered clothes
Boards of oak along the floor
Spores of mold
And years of death
She reaches up to grasp the sheath
Releasing vision
Her eyes are hit with piercing glass
Shards of regret sting and burn
As the curtains flutter from the past
The sunlight scorches her pupil’s sore
She clenches her eyelids and feels such pain
If only the sun would erase the rain
She raises her hands above her head
And in a moment parts her lips to whisper
Praise
Oh, Ruach, please fill this space
Engulf this temple
Come and stay
She softly sings a precious hymn
About a King who came and bled
About a Light that raised from death
About a man who took the keys
Once more she bends the knee
Once again her fingers bleed
Take this cup!
She shouts at the moon
Take this heart!
For I fear it will never bloom
Take my seeds, and perhaps they’ll land
Not dusty ground or quickened sands
She talks to the little girl inside her soul
Heal my child, for you are to become whole
You know precisely what you must do
Allow the Son to light the moon
Alight your soul and let Him envelop your heart
And covenant stands when yet we fall
Upholding the truth
Upholding the law
She bathed until the waters were black and drained the tub of dirt and ash
She burned her garments and clipped her nails and after a month wedding bells
She cut her hair close to the scalp
She sighed through parted lips
The Father blessed her childbearing hips
Although not broad or birthing ready
The blood-stained thighs were now round and steady
She dried the ink that was stained with tears
And exhaled all the years of bent up fears
Away she flies through wind and rains
Her hair now long whipping her face
Her nails are polished; her bow is aimed,
Her strength cannot be bent and swayed
In Hurricanes and raging seas, her trunk is like the Palm of Deborah’s tree

Had she finally learned to bloom?
In a desert?

A vineyard grows along her fence line, and honeysuckles scent the breeze
Her head is glistening— shiny, silky tassels bud with orchids that dance in the moonlight
As she runs to His Light
And she smiles, and she finally sees her strength and knows she is beautiful
Yeshua smiles and tilts her head upward to His Face, and she sees that He has eyes the color of the heavens and a smile that awakens the dawn.
His power shakes the heavens and the earth
And His Voice calms the seas
And suddenly she no longer bleeds
“I have many scars,” she says. And He holds out His Wrist for her to inspect.
Me too, my daughter, me too.

Posted in devotional, Inspirational, Tekoa Manning, TM, torah, Uncategorized

Wholly Illuminated

This week while scrolling through social media I read a meme (below) that described my week or parts of my whole existence.

survive

The meme, along with the raw words written by a friend, pierced me. Her vulnerability at that moment ministered to me. It went to a place in my soul that needed a bandage. It helped me cry. I believe there is rainwater from heaven in every droplet of our tears. Feelings are meant to be felt.
When I started this blog last week, I had no idea that I would add a portion exposing my vulnerability, but here I am.
I am a person that’s dealt with trauma in my lifetime. None of us are getting out alive.
When my husband and I go for short walks at night, he knows that if a dog barks, I will jump two feet. A loud horn blares. I squeeze his hand until my nails leave indentions. Earlier in the day, he walks behind me unannounced in the bathroom, and I scream bloody murder, my arms flaring and my heart pounding. Later, he wants to look at a property for sale in the country, secluded– and my first thought is a book written by Truman Capote called “In Cold Blood.” It would be funny if it weren’t true. Perhaps this is what helps me write fiction? I’ve lived a thousand lives under the sun. He briefly touches on the topic of my fears, and I blurt out,
“I am fearful of everything and nothing!”
“What?”
“I’m scared of people hurting me, dogs, going for walks, evil men, living in the middle of nowhere—living in the city. I’m petrified of hospitals, doctors, and the whole time we lived with my father I never once went on a walk with you for fear of a dog, a bobcat, a snake, or some ferocious animal attacking me.”
He’s listening, and I wonder what he is thinking, but I continue talking this through.
“At the age of 9 or 10, my brother had a paper route. If he missed a couple of houses, my father would toss me in the back of the truck. He would pull in the drive, and I’d place the paper on the porch and hop back in the bed. One particular house stands out. Before I could reach the porch, a large German shepherd lept over the fence and landed on top of me, gnashing his teeth. Luckily my dad got it off of me. I went on to babysit for our neighbor at 13, who had the most massive, loudest, German shepherd on the block. The fear started after a dream of hungry wolves surrounding me. I was 30, and they were there.
“I’m scared of everything and nothing, I say again.”
“I’m not scared of sickness, death, demons, or losing all my material possessions and becoming homeless.”
He looks confused.
“Honey, “Do you know how crazy that sounded? Do you even understand what you just said? You just named things most people in the world are scared to death of. Even death.”
“Maybe it’s because I have faced those things, I think to myself?”
Some of us have a point on a map, a calendar, a datebook locked in our brain, and we can tell you the exact moment of the car wreck, the diagnosis, or our child that died before it ever learned to talk or even before it exited the womb. There is a moment in time where we look back at the shattered glass, the addiction, the iron bars, the chemo, the foreclosure, the divorce papers, the bruises, the rape, the welfare department, the mental break down, or the charade of pretending to be put together when we were one button shy of EXPLODING!
Yes, we all have our moments, and some of us have another type of trauma. In World War II, with gunfire and bullets whipping around his head, my uncle, wading in freezing waters, stopped and threw his hands in the air and cried, “The war is over!” Of course, it wasn’t. He just had wishful thinking. He had seen too many bodies stacked in piles– stripped of all dignity— He had seen and smelled enough death.
But, some of us don’t have one memory or one vivid scar—it’s not one childhood adventure filled with nightmares, but more of a series of unfortunate events—sometimes it is an everyday battle just to get through.
Sometimes we wonder how we can take another step—breathe– trust again–go back out into the world and try and be a candle burning for someone else. We, too, cry and throw our arms to heaven, exclaiming, “The war is over!” I’m exhausted, Abba. Take the pain, sorrow, shame, guilt, confusion, debt, unbelief, sickness, and trauma and take my weapons of fear. Take the bars I have built to protect me. Take the suffering.

pottery job

Job took broken pottery, and he scraped his sores. He came to a place where he was okay with death. As a matter of fact, he welcomed death. He said the thing he feared the most had come upon him, but what was that thing?
He starts at the beginning of chapter three, cursing the day of his birth. He wishes that he had never been born because his pain is so deep. He explains how those in the grave are at rest. Job 3:16-17.
One morning, in the midst of some of the worst pain I have ever felt, I awoke to this pain in terror that I was going to have to get through another day of suffering. I prayed to die. I quoted Job verbatim. Then I heard an echo, “Do you not value the life I’ve given you? Do you not hope for better days?”
Job goes on to explain his fear.
“Why is light given to those in misery, and life to the bitter of soul, to those who long for death that does not come,” (Job 3:20-21).
And that is what he feared. A death that does not come. He feared he wasn’t going to get to escape such misery. He had lost children, cattle, oxen, servants, and he was suffering so severely. He wasn’t a man steeped in fear. He was a righteous man who wanted to go rest. I remember relating to such words. “Just take me Abba! I’m finished here. What good am I to anyone laying here suffering? I have nothing left here to do!” But I was much mistaken. I hadn’t even tasted what He had in store for me.
What does it look like when we use all our experiences and healing to help another heal? What does it look like when we embody Him and are a light? A candle. A burning flame that can’t be hidden because His light outshines all the darkness we’ve been through?

lightttttttt

What if The Father of Glory wanted to come to spend an evening with you? What would that look like? What did Shavuot and the tongues of fire sound like?
We often imagine what it would have been like to walk with Yeshua/ Jesus. To intently listen to Him tell parables, but what about as we go through our repetitious life? A typical workday or weekend. What would that look like to meet the risen Savior face to face? I’m talking about something fragrant. Something memorable. Something hard to even articulate.
You may have gathered from my previous blog that I don’t like to be at the hospital without my husband. Our first night back at the hospital, he slept on a couch next to me. By the second evening, between his back and his hip, he was ready to go home and get some much-needed rest. Before he left, he came over and said a simple prayer asking The Father to watch over me and protect me while we were apart. He also prayed for the Father to send compassionate people to care for me. What a very precious husband I have.
After he left, I was exhausted and a tad anxious, but I was prepared to try and rest until he returned. If you’ve ever spent much time in a hospital, you know it’s challenging to get any rest with pain, nurses coming in and out, beeping IV’s, as well as bathroom help, and so forth. On my second return to this hospital, I had some of the best nurses I’ve ever come in contact with. However, there was one that seemed explicitly handcrafted for me. I’ll call her Daffodil.

dafodils

I’m fast asleep, and around 8 pm, I hear my door open. I turn, sleepy-eyed, and look up at this woman who has just entered my room. She is tall– with a smile that made her eyes twinkle like stars in the night. She did not walk but seemed to sashay around the room in ballet slippers, softly checking this and that.
“I’m sorry Mrs. Manning; I’ll make a note that you’re an early sleeper so that I won’t disturb your rest.”
“Oh, I’m not an early sleeper. In fact, I’m a night owl. I was dozing from the medicine.”
We began to talk, and before we knew it, we were knee-deep in cooking shows. The Great British Bake-off! Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood were our first topic.
“Did you know that Mary contracted polio at the tender age of 13 and had a weaker arm due to it?
“No, I did not know that.”
“And did you know Paul would help her roll out her dough and prepare items?”
“Really,” I said, trying to sit up more.
“I think Paul looks like the guy from American Idol.”
“Oh, Simon!” Yes! Ha-ha!”
She laughed heartily, and then we were off to our next cooking adventure. Daffodil expressed her aspirations to create fabulous food. Her stories of family and grandparents who loved to bake were sprinkled throughout. I discussed my mom’s homemade carrot cake, and she described a delicate Italian cream cake made by her grandmother. The conversation was light but personal. We left baking and then traveled to World War II episodes on Netflix. Soon, we were reliving Foyle’s War, Land Girls, and Call the Midwives. Before I knew it, we were sailing on to authors and our all-time favorite books.
When Daffodil smiled, her light lit up the room. She exclaimed, “I love books! I love the smell of books!” I responded with an unquestionable, “YES!” Like fresh crayons in kindergarten! We giggled like school girls. Her phone buzzed, and she had to scurry off to another room. Suddenly, I felt revived. She was one of my people, and I was going to be blessed with her light for the next three days.
We discovered we lived very close to one another, right down the road from Barnes and Noble bookstore—a landmark. I mentioned my new grandson.
“Oh, I bet you just want to eat him up!”
She began to tell me about her nephew, who had high jacked her heart.
“Even if I have worked all night, need to clean, do laundry and catch up on things, one call from him “Aunt Daffodil can we go out?” and I am like “Baby, yes, we can!”
Suddenly, we laughed, and I had to hold my side, which was still very sore, to release the joy I felt. She caused me to forget my pain—my fear, and that my husband wasn’t coming back until morning.
Since the surgery, I have met two stoma nurses, both kind and good at what they do. Their profession is to try and prepare people to change a colostomy bag and empty it. For me, it was overwhelming and quite frightening to take in. It was humbling. You notice things and smells and the level of care. Since I had been back in the hospital with my wound, no one had helped me one on one yet, but Daffodil did. She took me in the bathroom and equipped me with gloves, tips for spraying, cleaning, and deodorizing the room, and she did it with the most compassion I’ve ever felt from any human. I wasn’t embarrassed, humiliated, or even scared to allow her to help me, help myself. This woman snuck into my room over and over again. She learned I was a writer of fiction and Torah teachings and wanted to know how to order my books.
She never told me about her religious beliefs. She never preached to me. She never quoted scriptures. No politics. No pushing or pulling, but her words held LIFE—her tongue FRUIT.

tekoa 8

Daffodil walked into my room like a candlelit burning brightly–like a flower pouring out fragrance. She bowed lowly. My husband witnessed her in her other patient’s chambers as he walked down the hall, and he said: “She is that bright no matter where she goes.” That BRIGHT. Like a candle on a lampstand. Oh, Saints, we can be those candles! We can be the hope of glory!”
When we are crucified with Messiah Yeshua/ Jesus, we no longer live, but He lives in us.
The Zohar states, “When a Jew utters one word of Torah, the light [in his soul] is kindled…and he sways to and fro like the flame of a candle.”
CCR, Credence Clearwater Revival, has a song called “Long as I can see the light.” John Fogerty bellows for us to put a candle in the window.
“If therefore your whole body is full of light, with no dark part in it, it will be wholly illumined, as when the lamp illumines you with its rays.” Luke 11:36.
What does Yeshua tell us before this? “No one, after lighting a lamp, puts it away in a cellar nor under a basket, but on the lampstand, so that those who enter may see the light.”
Thank you, Daffodil, for being a light to me, and thank you, Abba, for hearing my husband’s prayer and bringing light into my room.
We can heal from all the trauma by shining our lights on those in need. By listening. By praying. By giving sound counsel. By measuring our words. Even at our darkest moments in our most profound misery, we have LIGHT.
My husband’s picture below seemed to shine with extra light, and I wanted to personally thank him for being a bright light in my life for seven years now. Blessings friends. SHINE!

IMG_0097

Posted in poetry, Tekoa Manning, TM, Uncategorized

Pink Cotton Candy

Image result for cotton candy

“There’s always a time to shine,” she said, curling her bottom lip.
“You need to let the light shoot out of your hair like cracked eggshells covered in glistening white yolks.”

Sparkles.

I pictured her hair standing up all over her head, illuminated and glistened like the moon draped over an armchair or a starfish on fire.
She looked up at me compellingly.

“What are you thinking?”

But before I can answer her, she continues . . .

“I like to take out my pastel pink shirts on these occasions when I feel shiny. It reminds me of cotton candy and the summer of 1972— or a breezy blouse that’s indigo blue.

“Whattaya think?’

She twirled around, showing me her new outfit.

I frown and reflect on the dozen black shirts hanging in a row on one side of my closet. Even the hangers looked tired and exhausted from holding them up. The other side has a smaller colorful section that used to hang off my thinner, more active body.

She looks up again with a glazed expression.
“Sometimes on rare occasions, I braid my hair like a fishtail and sit on a rock by the river.”

“Over there . . .”

She points down the hill past the briars and the thorns and the medicine.
“It’s best to go just before the Sun begins to bursts forth like Samson stretching and yawning his head full of fire.
The fish move their mouths above the glassy waters.
Do you like water?”
She said it as if I might be thirsty.

I’m always thirsty.

I try and answer her.

“Yes, sometimes the sea calls my name and the ocean crashes into my bed and pulls me upstream.”
I look down at my black shirt and notice a butterfly light on my shoe–just the corner of my flip-flop.
Its vibrant blue and the palest yellow.
“Did you see it?”
“See what?”
“Never mind.”
I sigh long and hard and stare at her ginger brown hair woven into the sun.
I cut my hair with a paring knife and a dull pair of scissors.
Choppy.
Suddenly, I feel gloomy despite her pink shirt and the trace of Dianthus on the wind, and I try and think of a song or something cool to say, but nothing comes to me.
I force it.
“Remember when we were nineteen? And you used to walk to the corner store with me to play Pac-Man. We’d eat ice cream and go to your house and play your Grease, Zeppelin, and Meatloaf albums until dark . . .”
It was 1982.
I wait for the spark and the engine to fire.
And then her hair lit up her smile, and the butterfly lit on my arm, just as she motioned with glee.
“I see it,” she says finally.
“You need a butterfly.”
“You need to shine.”
Suddenly I feel duller than the scissors I’d used the night before, like a sparkler that goes out on the 4th of July.
Her perfect white teeth look like choir boys rehearsing for an audition. She was forever telling me what “I needed.” As if she held all the answers.
“You need a black shirt,” I say rather curt with my nose crinkled up.”
“Just a hint of sorrow would be refreshing.”
Now the light coming from her had sizzled.
Her hair turned mossy brown, and her eyes faded.
Was I to blame?
I fold up my lips and tell her that the earth has eaten the trees, and we’ve killed the honeybees, and the oil has spilled into the Sea.
“Aren’t you starving for something tangible?”

She laughs hysterically.

“Darling you’ve always been gloomy and extreme.”

I cup my hands that are now suddenly full of oil and swath my hair in it. I pick up my shoes and then barefoot run through the thorns licking up the straw-like grass, and throw myself into the river. It’s alive, and suddenly I can breathe.

I am the sea.

“Oh Abba, Mikvah me!”
The moon gleams from the now darkened heavens.
The waters tremble, and then the fish light up like light bulbs in the dark.
They’re as green as a cucumber salad.
I come shooting up out of the river like a sea creature. I’m covered in gold dust, and the waters turn pastel pink like cotton candy.
It tastes good on my skin.
I drink it in like pomegranate juice.

She yells something incoherent and then runs down the hill past the briars and the weeds. Her pastel shirt snagging on a shrub. Out of breath, she dips her foot in the pink waters that match her blouse.
“Are you thirsty?” I ask.
Her fishtail braid falls to one side of her shoulders, and with a just hint of candidness, she whispers.
“Parched”
And then she jumped into the deep.”