My newest piece is part of the recent Spark 14. It is based on an excerpt from Jewel Beth Davis' forthcoming novel Crisis Becomes You. The chapter I read shows the main character Shekhinah feeling burdened by the human race.
The Shekhinah, the “dweller within," is the Divine that resides within the life of the world, dwelling on earth with the Jewish people and going into exile with them when they are exiled.
You can read the excerpt below.
I included lots of little nuances that are in the story in the piece. Though it works as a whole on its own without knowing the story. For those with a keen eye, you should be able to find the little angel, a chorus line performing Rogers & Hammersteins Flower Drum Song, as well as numerous other little tidbits sprinkled throughout.
Excerpt from novel, Crisis Becomes You
Jewel Beth Davis
With all your thrones and scepters you may rule the world for a while, But take hold of Shekhinah and you will rule the world forever. ~From The Wisdom of Solomon (50 BCE) written by an unknown Jewish sage living in Alexandria.
The Shekhinah lay on Her Queen-sized bed listening to Flower Drum Song’s I Enjoy Being A Girl. She’d always loved Rodgers and Hammerstein. She spun off the bed and whirled around the Holy Chamber singing, ”I’m strictly a female female. And my future I hope will be. In the arms of a brave and he-male. Who-o-o-o enjoys being a guy. Having a girl. Li-i-ike. Me-e-e-e!” She kicked high, pique turned, pirouetted and grande jeted around the cavernous hall. To get her in the mood, she wore a lovely pink tutu on the outside of her robe.
Why couldn’t she dance and sing for Her job? Why couldn’t Her job be that simple? The World was complex. Gehenna was complex. Even the Holy of Holies was complex. All the connections, every action, reaction and absence of action, all connected like dominoes waiting to fall and falling at the same time. Like numberless spider webs all woven together, continuously interweaving and multiplying. Layer upon layer upon layer. Creation was always creating and destruction always destroying. It was all too much. Her sigh filled the room sounding more like a moan.
Why did Her material being feel so heavy now all the time? She stroked a piece of red silk strewn across her bed. Why did she feel so lacking in energy? She found Herself wanting to isolate all the time now. What was up with that? She’d always been such a social God. Now, she couldn’t bear company except for Her two angels, Varode and Kochol. And even they annoyed her much of the time. She couldn’t bear to hear all the wishes and prayers, the cries, the demands, the appeals from the living beings in the World and the countless souls who had passed over. She yawned covering Her mouth and felt listless. She didn’t know what to do with Herself.
She looked at the small piles of paper everywhere. Piles of never ending complaints and requests: “I need food.” “I can’t pay my rent.” “Please don’t let my mother die of cancer.” “I shop too much. Help me stop.” “My husband doesn’t love me.” “My wife doesn’t want to have sex any more.” Who was She, Dr. Phil? And the latest: “Help me kill all the Jews in Israel. And everywhere else! Allah be praised.” “Help me vote into office only Christian Republican presidents.” “Help me kill all the abortion doctors!” “Help me convert all the gays to be straight. Or barring that, help me get rid of them somehow, Praise Jesus!”
These people- were they ever going to grow up? Were they kidding? How could they think a Jewish God or any god would help them with that? How could they really think they each had the only path and the direct ear of God? What kind of meshugenah god would grant these ugly, destructive, venomous prayers?
She flopped on the bed, causing the covers to billow up around her. She grabbed the remote and punched the button for the music to stop. Thank Heaven most musicals including this one had at least one character that sang a sad song, one character that didn’t get her prayers answered and wishes fulfilled. In Flower Drum Song, it was the little seamstress who loved the First Son of the wealthy family. Her song was about ships passing in the night or something akin to that. At least that one sad song gave Shekhinah a chance to experience the way She felt all the time now. Lonely and joyless.
She rolled off the bed and floated over to the acres of paper requests she just couldn’t seem to get to. Mounds of them. She just couldn’t read them anymore, let alone attend to them and grant the prayers.
Why couldn’t people just be happy? Or if not happy, why couldn’t they be at peace with their misery, accepting what could not be changed? Did they have to whine and kvetch constantly to Her? She had created this amazing world for people to live in, so beautiful it was. All they had to do was live in it, be kind to each other and be happy. But no, all they did was kvetch.
She kicked the piles of small notes from all the souls until they flew throughout the gigantic space. She could feel something explode within.
“OUT,” she cried. “I want them out.” Tears poured down the Shekhinah’s face, a violent waterfall of tears that dug rivulets into her skin from the force of the onslaught.
Varode, the Pink Angel, appeared from a sliver of spatial dimension. She was concerned about Shekhinah’s outburst. “What is it, Your High Ness? What do you want out?”
“These,” the Shekhinah said, her passion growing. “I want every prayer, desire, request and demand gone. No more. Don’t bring me any more. I refuse to deal with another prayer.” She kicked the pieces again viciously. They flew up and cascaded over Her long, shining tresses. They settled like large snow flakes, blotting out Her hair, robes, and feet, piling around Her in a mound, a paper snow goddess.
“But this is your job. There’s no one else to do it but you,” Varode said. “Everyone relies on you.”
The Shekhinah seemed not to hear Varode. “And get the Mega-Vac and suck these up. Suck ‘em up and spit ‘em out somewhere I can’t see them anymore.”
Varode’s face reflected the horror she felt. “But…but…”
“I sent those two ghosts down to earth. Let them deal with the prayers. Let them help the people. I’m all helped out.”
Pale and shaken, Varode turned to carry out Shekhinah’s commands.
“And bring me a deck of cards. You know how to play poker?”
“You heard me.”
Varode shook her head no.
“No, Unutterable One. I’m sorry,” she said, backing out of the chamber, head bowed. She halted and turned back to the Shekhinah. “I’m not certain but I think Kochol, the Blue Angel, might know something about those sorts of throwing lots games.”
“Then get him and the cards,” Shekhinah said, shaking the prayers off Her, like a dog with fleas. “But first, the Mega-Vac.”