by Jay O'Toole
This is chapter #17 of The Quest for Home, my NaNoWriMo novel for November 2017.
Treasured Christmas, Newest Home,
Lives restored as whole.
Nevermore we need to roam.
Loving is our goal.
Love of the Highest Quality
Ethelene's eyes were full of tears as she remembered something her mother used to tell her when she was a small cub. "God loves you very much. It's true that God loves everyone in the world, but that fact doesn't take away any of His unique love for you that is of the highest quality." That was something I most needed to know, again. Carl left me with a hole in my heart, without a child and with grief that I don't fully know how to express. But knowing that God's love for me is "of the highest quality" helps me to keep going, even in the middle of my grief. At least I can rest peacefully, tonight, knowing this more fully than ever before."
She placed her nightly devotional book on the bedside table, dropping off into the gentle sleep of being cradled in God's Arms, listening to the beating of His Heart, protected by The One, Who "would never leave her no forsake her." (Hebrews 13:5)
"Love suffers long and is kind;...bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." (I Corinthians 13:4,7, NKJV) Casa meditated on the words. Having begun, again, to read his favorite book, The Bible, he was touched by just how timely the thirteenth chapter of Corinthians was to his current situation of life. "I have responded to D'Oso's leading in my heart to seek to love, again. Not only do I need the love of a wife. Quest needs the love of a mother. But I'm not sure I can love this lady to the level that she deserves as an excellent lady."
"I believe you have missed the point, My Friend."
Casa recognized the voice. Turning around he was greeted once, again, by the very Presence of D'Oso Reimi, Himself. His full, dark fur, that mouth with just the hint of a smile and the personage that displayed peace, joy, laughter, compassion, hope, and grace all at the same time. "Welcome, D'Oso. I was just thinking of how I wished we could talk once more. I have so many questions. I feel so inadequate. I have met a most excellent lady, but I feel like such a pauper in her presence."
"I know. How much did you have to offer to me, when I saved you?"
"Who do you think made the paths of two bears cross at Warwick Forest?"
"Who do you think knows all about Love because He created Love?"
"I sure am glad I don't get exasperated at Earth-dwellers. If I did, you would be stepping on my last nerve right now. But good for you, I don't." D'Oso gave a good-natured laugh. "God's love for me is 'of the highest quality'" is a quote your new girlfriend just considered as she dropped off the sleep in my arms, this night. She was remembering the words of her mother, spoken to her when she was a small cub. The same words could help you to process your grief to a good resolution."
"Thank you. Then, I will consider those very words as I prepare for sleep."
"You are quite welcome."
"So, why is the processing of my grief so important in preparing to love, again?"
"Grief touches a very sincere chord in the deepest part of your heart. Grief helps you to understand Love more fully."
"Grief is the emotion in God's Heart that has yet to be fully mended. Do you remember the Garden of Eden?"
"I am familiar with the account. You created Adam and placed him in the perfect Creation. You created Eve from Adam's rib. They walked with You for a time in perfect fellowship, until they ate the forbidden fruit in disobedience to Your Command."
"That's right. Do you know why I gave them this command?"
"You wanted to prove that You are Lord and that everybody needs to obey You."
D'Oso sniffed back a tear. "Most people think that, but that's not the reason."
"Really? What reason could be different than that?"
D'Oso started, again, slowly...with gentleness and compassion. "I gave the one rule for the purpose of strengthening our bond of trust. Trust broken causes the intense pain of grief. That pain continues, until this very day in the Heart of the Trinity because we created Man to have the same kind of loving trust-bond with us that we have with each other. The eating of the forbidden fruit meant that the bond of loving trust had been broken in such a way that no Earth-dweller could ever mend the rupture that caused our Divine Grief. One of us would have to repair the loving trust-bond. That was my designated job from before the Foundation of the World."
"More than you could ever know, Dear One. I am the Second Adam because the First Adam was not trustworthy to maintain the bond between God and Man. I repaired that one Friday, slept on it that Saturday, and sealed the deal that Sunday morning when I yawned my way through the Great Boulder that supposedly sealed my tomb. The First Eve picked the fruit from the tree and started the grieving process that her husband, Adam, enforced by his misguided efforts and confused thinking. Since that day we have been fashioning HIStory's Second Eve from the material that came from my side on the Friday of the Crucifixion. One day my Bride will be complete and we will grieve no more, but for now, we continue to feel the pain of unfinished love and unfinished fellowship."
"Did you send Adam and Eve to Hell for their sin?"
"Of course not. I forgave them and clothed them through the shedding of blood. For 'without the shedding of blood there is no remission.'"
"Aren't you able to enjoy the peace, the blessedness and the completeness of fellowship with Earth-dwellers, like me, who have said, 'Yes' to You in The Big Choice?"
"O, Yes. We love our fellowship with you more deeply than mere words can express, but still, we grieve for all, who will say, 'Yes' to us, but who have not said, 'Yes' to us, yet. We see the future. We know the hope, but still, we experience the grief of loss, like you still experience the grief of the loss of Ossie and Ethelene still experiences the grief of the loss of Carl. There is a division or separateness of emotion in our hearts at present the same way there is a dichotomy of peaceful completeness in The Creation at the present time. 'For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.' (Romans 8:22, ESV) Also, 'We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing.' (2 Corinthians 5:2, NLT)"
"Why all this pain? Can't you put an end to it right now?"
"I can't because that would destroy the entire purpose of the first Creation. Just as the smelter of precious metals cannot rush the process of making pure gold and silver, I cannot rush the process of making The Creation every whit whole, again. This is the creative purification, whose tool is Love."
"Please, explain this kind of Love to me. That is a big part of the reason why I wanted You here with me tonight to have this conversation. I don't know how to provide Ethelene with the level of Love she deserves as such an excellent lady."
"Casa, you act as though Love is a job, a responsibility, a duty to be performed to the one you love. You act as though Love is a commodity, like money, that you can give to someone else, while completely releasing it from attachment to yourself. You act as though Love is a meal you will prepare for your bride-to-be, then you place the meal in front of her for her to fully consume, having nothing left over for yourself."
"Absolutely NOT. Love cannot be given away to anyone else. Love can only be shared with another. Love is the emotion you express to another while pouring the contents all over yourself at the same time. Love is the synaptic pathway you create between yourself and someone else for the purpose of increasing the knowing in The Mind of Christ."
"O, My Goodness. This changes everything."
"If you start to comprehend, then it most certainly will. Are you familiar with how the created brain works, especially as it refers to the human brain?"
"I thought that was where You were going when you used the phrase, 'synaptic pathways.'"
"Exactly. Synaptic nerves in the human brain are essentially the roadways that messages in the brain traverse between the interconnected parts. The more synaptic pathways a human creates as he or she grows older the less likely they are to experience the debilitating effects of Alzheimer's Disease. Human doctors are just now beginning to comprehend this truth to a greater degree. I urge you to consider it fully."
"I've heard about this."
"Have you ever considered that dementia is due to the deterioration of synaptic pathways brought on by the separating of older people from the people, the places and the things that have always given their lives meaning? Love is the creator of strong synaptic pathways in The Mind of Christ, which leads the Body of Christ."
"I have never thought of it that way."
"When we love, we do not give it away, we share our Loving bond with someone else, while they are sharing their loving bond with us. It's a synapse of Love if you will. Loving never diminishes Love. Loving makes Love exponentially larger. Try this on for size. You can't give away a lake for the benefit of your loved one, but you can ride across it together, sharing the joyful experience."
What a Wonderful Christmas!
The cinnamon and pine wafted through the air. Orange tea, filled with cinnamon spice, simmered on the counter. Orange, red, yellow, and blue lights dotted the nighttime landscape. The crunch, crunch, crunch of snow under four paws told Quest, "It IS Christmas time."
The past few years had developed a love for Christmas in the heart of the young cub. Maybe it was the way that people smiled more at this time of the year. They certainly seemed to show greater kindness for others, especially for the animals. Interactions were almost sing-song in their voices. Horse-drawn sleighs would fly past with their quilt-covered passengers, front lanterns and ringing bells. The passengers even waved at Quest as he foraged between the trees, apparently unaware of any need for fear at the presence...of...the bear.
For nearly three and a half months now, Quest had tried to unlock the great mystery of this year's "most amazing Christmas present." At least that was what his father called it. "Dad has made no long trips to get something really big," he thought. "He hasn't taken a day to spend time at the Mall of the Forest, owned by bears, run by bears and enjoyed for shopping purposes by bears. Where DID he get my "most amazing Christmas present?"
Just as he was becoming frustrated with this "not knowing" almost to the point of being beyond repair, a beauteous melody lighted upon his ears and stopped him in his tracks. This part of the woods was thick enough to hide the shape of a bear but close enough to the little wooden church in the hollow to become a balcony seat to a great concert. "Silent night, holy night, All is calm, all is bright..." sang the little country choir. "I must say, it certainly is that," thought Quest. He closed his eyes, dug his claws into the nearest tree, and leaned into it. The peaceful, enriching melody and words nourished his heart, making him forget about the imminent surprise.
Quest tried to remember the last time he had stopped to be at peace, to drink in the softness of the night, to consider that the God, Who made him and Who changed his whole life by means of The Big Choice, just might enjoy standing silently beside one of the bears, He had created, for friendship without the expectation of anything in return. "Love can only be shared," came a thought unbidden into a cubby of his young mind.
"Where did that thought come from?" he wondered.
"It came from me," said a voice behind him.
Quest turned around to look into the face of the largest grizzly bear he had ever met. He knew, instantly, it was D'Oso Reimi. "D'Oso!"
"Hello, Quest. I am always working in your life. Tonight, I wanted to give you a little taste of how I communicate with the ones I love."
"How do you do that, Loving D'Oso?"
"I speak thoughts to your heart without the need for audible words."
"So, you are the one, Who told me, 'Love can only be shared.'"
"I did. Last night, I was sharing that very same thought with the two most significant people in your life, right now."
"Dad and Mo...er...I mean my teacher, Mrs. Hazelton?"
"Exactly. Do you have any idea why I have been sharing this thought with all three of you over the last 24 hours?"
"You want us to know that You love all three of us?"
"I do want that, but there is more behind my reason."
"What could be more?"
"What did you ask your teacher on the day that you met her?"
"I told her that I wished she could be my Mom."
"What have you been trying to discover over the past three and a half months?"
"I have been trying to discover what my 'most amazing Christmas present' could be."
D'Oso cocked his head to one side, crinkled his nose and gave Quest a knowing look over the bridge of His snout.
"You don't mean?" Quest screamed but quickly checked himself. "You don't mean?" he whispered.
"You didn't hear it from Me, which is why I have given you so many hints. The truth is, Quest, that you are making plans go very slowly for your Dad and your teacher."
"What am I doing wrong?"
"Nothing is openly wrong, Quest, but you are making it difficult for these dear ones to prepare for their important day, which is three days away from now. It's the matter of keeping a secret that is making things so hard for them. You are a very lively, young cub. You're trying to sneak peeks and they are having to dodge your peeks."
"Oh. I see what you mean. What do you need me to do?"
"Until Christmas Eve, you need to stop your searching and make yourself scarce. Have some reason to go to play with one of your friends. Go foraging for food and enjoy the pretty colored lights from the safety of the woods. Certainly be available for meals on time. We don't want your Dad and soon-to-be Mom to worry, regarding your whereabouts. However, in your spare time feel free to look for the other churches in the area where you can hear more beautiful music, but keep yourself unseen by the humans. I can assure you that there will be more great Christmas music for you to hear."
"Okay. I'll do that. How soon may I let on that I know about their surprise?"
"Under no circumstances may you give any hint that you know, until you arrive at the service on Christmas Eve. This is their surprise, and you will put on the performance of a lifetime when they make their surprise known to you. Is that understood?"
"Loudly and Clearly, Sir. You are coming in 5 X 5. All five surround-sound speakers are making Your message heard at their best decibels."
"Quest, thank you."
The adults spent their time creating the most amazing Christmas atmosphere that Quest had ever experienced.
Dad and Quest went deep into the forest to pick the best Christmas tree, ever. It had to be just the right size. The one found was well proportioned and was just the right height. The young cub got to cut down his first Christmas tree for this year's celebration. They dragged it back to the den and secured it upright in a water pot in short order.
The two bear "men" trimmed the tree with pinecones and garlands of cranberries and popcorn. They even found about a dozen small mirrors, which they placed strategically within the boughs of the tree to reflect whatever light was available in the attempt to imitate the colored lights on the humans' Christmas trees.
They placed some mounds of pine straw on the window openings of the cave with small candles set in the middle of each mound. After dark, the den became a winter wonderland fit for any child or childlike heart.