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Reincarnation Stories
Merchant of Jerusalem
 

I was a merchant in Jerusalem. I sold tall clay jars and wine in tall jars in a narrow stall on a big street of such stalls. My business was a profitable one, I made a good living, and I enjoyed my work. I had many friends, some very close. My wife was a wonderful woman; we were very happy together, and our children were a joy to us.


One day---I was alone in the shop, looking, as I did, onto the street---three bearded men in white walked by. One of them stopped, and, from the street, caught my gaze in his. In an instant, I knew that he Knew. He knew everything about me: my life, my pleasures, my hopes, my worries. But that was not important. He knew something else. He was that something, and as he looked at me---ten seconds perhaps---I saw that my life was a little thing, an unimportant thing. It meant nothing whether my business failed or I became rich, whether I had a shrew for a wife or an adoring woman. None of it mattered.


And this man had not said a word to me.


For the next weeks, I was like a man in a daze. Nothing had changed in my life, yet what I now understood made it all like ashes. There was nothing to say, even to my closest friend.


I had no desire to see this man again, but somehow, quite by accident, I came on him preaching in one of the squares, and although I didn't stay to hear him, I later asked and found out his name.


When I next heard of him, I heard he was to be crucified. That day, I went down to my stall, went inside, but did not open the front of the stall. I spent the day inside the dark stall, crying.


I did not look for the man then, or since then, but that one look---I could not help it. I have looked for myself since.

AFTERWORD:
For months I did not know what to do. My business was fine, my marriage fine, my friends still friendly. I was not fine.
This man had opened a door in me, a door to a large, empty room. From time to time, I would feel completely hollow and find myself in tears.
Less than a year later, I told my wife I was going on a voyage, left her with most of my money, and sailed for Greece. I was looking for something: I did not know what. In Delphi, at the temple of the oracle, I wished to enter, but I did not know what to ask. The eyes of the priest so reminded me of His eyes that I left.
I believe I spent many years as a solitary teacher of boys in Eastern Europe, in a place where I was unknown. I do not know if I ever saw my family again.

Lou Gottlieb
gottlieb@wbcable.net


Posted August 19, 2016