ALIVE: Chapter 40 - Every Body Dies

"Perambula, why do you sulk?" questioned the Lord with compassion over the angel's fallen countenance.

"I am going to miss Abraham." replied the angel.

"So, you finally forgave his adulteries? You weren't always so generous." inquired God.

"Yes, but that scene on Mount Moriah. How could a man who didn't trust You to protect his wife from Pharaoh, or to give her a son, be willing to give back to You his greatest blessing, the seed of Your covenant promise of nations of offspring?"

Without hesitation God replied, "Abraham learned to trust Me. He learned from his bad judgment. Don't fret Perambula, Abraham won't be locked in Sheol forever. I have a plan."

"Forever? Lord, You are God! Just shine on Sheol and wake him up! Let his soul live with us."

God was a little surprised to hear Perambula speak this way. He assumed that the angel understood the laws by which He had made heaven and earth, and the underworld, laws that govern life and death. After all, Perambula was in Eden. The angel heard God warn about the effect of eating the forbidden tree when He said, "ἀπὸ δὲ τοῦ ξύλου τοῦ γινώσκειν καλὸν καὶ πονηρόν, οὐ φάγεσθε ἀπ᾿ αὐτοῦ· ᾗ δ᾿ ἂν ἡμέρᾳ φάγητε ἀπ᾿ αὐτοῦ, θανάτῳ ἀποθανεῖσθε.

(Literal translation: away from the wood of coming to know, of perception [of] the good and oppressive toil, whoever of you eat from them, or in the day [you] eat from them, [you shall] die by death.)

θανάτῳ ἀποθανεῖσθε. 'You shall die by death'. Adam and Eve were doomed to die when they ate of the wood.

Puzzled Perambula pouted. The angel could not comprehend how awareness could cause death.

Reading the angel's thoughts God explained, "Imagine that the sudden awareness of good and suffering created a surge of electricity in mankind's soul that triggered a short, a shut-down, death."

Perambula, said with meekness, "Lord, they didn't die right away. They were expelled from the garden. What does this have to do with Abraham anyway?"

"Perambula, there is a place in the center of the earth, or rather it is a state of being, that you are not capable of experiencing, which is death. It is said that the place is deep inside the earth and that they fell into it. That is why the experience of death is called The fall of man. There is no light there, no awareness, no sound. That place, that void, happened on the day that Adam and Eve became aware of the contrast of good and oppressive toil (sometimes considered to be evil.) On that day death, the effect of that awareness, became their destiny. That is where they went, their state of being, when their bodies died, and that is where Abraham is now."

"Lord, do you mean that their awareness while in the body, triggered an equal and opposite response, the absence of awareness when out of the body? How interesting! Genius!"

Perambula's enthusiasm suddenly collapsed in confusion. "Lord..."

"Yes, dear one?"

"Abraham didn't eat it. Why did he have to die too?"

The patient Lord of all allowed silence to introduce His response. Perambula waited.

"The perception of good and oppressive toil, once discovered, could no longer recede from human consciousness. Adam and Eve took it with them when they left paradise and they conveyed it to their children. Through the generations the perception of good and suffering, which each man surmises on his or her own, which may be separate from My perception, have existed. Thus by perceiving good and suffering separated them from Me.

Humankind continues to feed from this wood, and thereby continues every day to feed the need to die. It is a cycle that will not cease. But I planted the antidote in the garden from which I expelled the miscreants, the wood of life; on the day they eat from the wood of life they will no longer die."

"Wonderful!" exclaimed Perambula relieved. Quick, where is it so I can awaken Abraham and feed it to him!"

"No." replied God. "I have removed all access to that tree, flames surround it and besides the humans have been evicted from the garden where the life-giving tree is planted."

Perambula's face grew contorted and darkened into a deep purplish gray color, streaky and gloomy. "Abraham is doomed forever" thought the angel.

"Trust me Perambula. The annihilation of death is not to be so easily achieved. Their perception, once gained, should not be erased. In due time..."

Perambula blurted out, "How awful for Abraham, for all the others! But Lord, You despise death. Why did you make it?"

"Death was not made any more than darkness and void were, which pre-existed creation. Death and darkness, even evil don't exist of themselves. These are the absence of life, of light, of good. They are parasites, or the exact opposites of what I made."

"I have an idea!"

"What is it?" replied God skeptically. "You made light! Look towards Sheol and Your light will blind the demons and the souls will wake up. Do it Lord!"

"Good try angel." I cannot enter Sheol, because it is not a place but a state of being. Only humans may go there in death, and only to be captive to its darkness and its stillness."

God disappeared before Perambula could ask about His plan."

Abraham died. At the age of 175, his spirit vaporized and pulled away from his frail flesh and bones. He watched as his sons Isaac and Ishmael carried his empty body to the cave where he had carried Sarah years before. The men whom his boys Ishmael and Isaac became, carefully laid him as close to Sarah as they could. Servant boys held oil lamps to help them find their way through the dark silent cave in the earth. Isaac wondered if the God of his father had foreseen the destiny of this hollowed hallowed earth as it slowly formed these hundreds of years to perfectly fit and caress the bodies of the Patriarch and his queen.

After setting their father down, Isaac and Ishmael stood in silence staring at the wrapped lifeless figure of Abraham, remembering the days they had spent together loving and laughing, learning and living.

Ishmael thought about the day of circumcision, when he obediently surrendered his penis to his father and to God. His memory was painless. Isaac remembered being tied up and laying on the fire wood. Both sons of Abraham survived their sacrifice. Neither son was quick to walk away from this giant of a man whose blood ran through their veins.

The younger and closer Isaac was the first to turn and walk out after reaching his hand over to touch Abraham for the last time reciting the words he had heard so often from the parched lips of Father Abraham. "Barukh ata adonai eloheinu melekh ha-olam." A short while later the young light-bearers followed teary-eyed Ishmael out of the cave, together the sons rolled the stone back over the mouth of the cave and secured it with reverence and fear. They hugged each other; finally free from the rancor of Sarah and Hagar; then the brothers went their separate ways.

Abraham, in spirit observed the private ceremony with sadness and nostalgia. So many similar separations salted his long life, but that was when he was on the side of the living. Abraham was grateful for the chance to witness his burial before sinking into the silent depths of darkest Sheol where he was to sleep the empty sleep of death. When he arrived in Sheol, Abraham was not aware of being dead. He lost consciousness, and yet God knew exactly where to find him.

Abraham was neither aware of his condition nor that he was surrounded by thousands, that Noah and Adam were in the same area of darkness, that Melchizedek was on his left and Cain and Abel side by side again. In Sheol there was nothingness, no time, no light, no fear or illness or greed. No land to own. No love.

Abraham wasn't aware when Isaac arrived and then Ishmael, he never met Moses. In darkness, in stillness, in silence, the souls of Saul, David, and Joel, Samuel and Elisha along with millions of unknown, even all who perished in the Flood, fell deep into the earth. No one suffered, no one rejoiced. No one worshipped God, no one cursed Him. No demons bothered them, no angels encouraged them.

No one expected to wake up. No one was aware of how close the demons and Satan were.

Meanwhile, revolutions transpired on top of the earth. Kings were born and kings died. Countries were started and countries died away or were overthrown. Empire upon empire waxed and waned like the moon China, Greece, Rome while the deep darkness of death continued to receive and consume one life after another, century after century. A sliver of life in time for a world of death.