Click Here If You Missed Part II

The next two weeks were a high. High, because it was as though Hi’s spirit was breathing inside me, the compassion in his eyes running through my blood.

Until then, I had never realized how insensitive I was—even to the people closest to me. Okay, blame it on my childhood, whatever. Who cares? The way I spoke, my callousness, it suddenly pained me.

My friends were kinda stunned. Even my step-dad said I was a different person.

My eating habits changed, too. And the way I slept. Even the way I walked.

The canyon was my sanctuary. But I wanted more. One day, I found myself walking into a synagogue. A young rabbi helped me with these ancient leather prayer boxes. I could feel the energy running through them, the kind of divine energy that I had experienced up there.

Everywhere was light,Everywhere was light, and I was flying higher and higher into it. And then I crashed. and I was flying higher and higher into it.

And then I crashed. Hard.

It was more like falling into mud than crashing into a brick wall, but the result was the same. Like a rocket ship exploding in the sky, everything I had built up over those two weeks suddenly blew apart.

I remember rising early for my morning canyon jog. I was there, but I wasn’t there. A weird feeling like you’re running but standing still. The sparks weren’t firing, the tank was empty, and there was no place to fill it up.

A friend called. We went out for dinner. I ordered a burger. I couldn’t enjoy it. Same thing out on the town. Everything seemed so empty.

The flight was over, but there was no place to land.

That went on for almost a month. I applied for a couple of jobs. Even started one. But nothing worked out.

I pushed myself to keep jogging. I stuck to my new eating habits, but always questioning why.

There was this lonely old man in the apartment next door who I had befriended, listening to his life stories. I had done it with such caring. Now I just forced myself to nod and listen. Like I was on an uphill climb and had lost sight of the mountain peak.

Went back to that synagogue and looked for the rabbi. Wasn’t there. Found those leather prayer boxes and tried to wrap myself in them. Looked real stupid. Just a mess.

So I was back in the canyon again. This time, not jogging. Just dragging myself along. Found that place again under those trees. Plopped down. Waited. Nobody. Nothing.

Sat there. Bitter. Hurting inside. Something warm dripped onto my tight fist. A teardrop. I could see in it the reflection of my face. That’s all.

No one put his arm over my shoulder. No voice came to comfort me. So I got up and began walking back to my car.

That’s when I saw Hi standing there in front of me with a huge smile. But not like I had seen him before. He didn’t seem real. His feet weren’t even touching the ground. But I knew he was real. The smile—I couldn’t understand the smile.

The View From On Hi

“Hi,” I said. “Where have you been?”

“What kind of a question is that?” he answered.

“I needed your help.”

“You’ve been doing pretty good on your own.”

“At first, yeah. But the last while …”

“At first, you did nothing. Now you’re really climbing.”

“What are you talking about? At first I was flying high. Now I’m flying on one engine. Hell, I’m not even flying. I’m on the tarmac. Muddy tarmac.”

I didn’t want to face up to it. But I knew the truth. That wasn’t me those first two weeks. That was Hi holding onto my handlebars.

“You let go, and I crashed,” I told him.

“I don’t think so. You’ve been doing pretty well on your own. It’s just hard pedaling uphill. But look, this is the first time I’m able to come to see you without descending all the way.”

“Huh? Why is that?”

“Because you’re higher. You’ve picked yourself up. You’re a different person, Josh.”

“I don’t feel that way.”

“YouYou don’t notice real change. If you notice it, it’s not real. don’t notice real change. If you notice it, it’s not real.”

“I noticed the change at first. Then it was gone.”

“Gone? Josh, when you thought it was gone, that’s when it started.”

Hi paused for a minute. “Sit down,” he said. “Let me show you something.”

We both sat down on a bench. Hi sat close to me, his hand over my shoulder. At first, I thought just a warm gesture. But that arm was more than warm. Some weird sort of energy running through that arm. Like a kind of conscious energy.

“Josh, remember the lonely old man next door.”

Now, I’ve got to tell you this had me freaked out. When you remember something that happened to you, sometimes it can be pretty vivid. This was like that, but a hundred times over.

“Remember the first time you talked to him?”

It was like me and that old man were standing there right in front of me. I was enveloped in a stream of light that poured from who-knows-where. The light grabbed the man’s words and carried them upward. But me—I was like a dark wick inside a bright flame.

Hi’s words snapped me out of it. “You still talk to him, don’t you?”

I struggled to answer. I wanted to say what a bummer that was—when I just forced myself to act interested and caring, but all that caring had left me. I couldn’t open my mouth. I didn’t need to. I was already watching that scene.

This time, there was no light pouring down. I was dark.

“Look closely,” Hi said.

Deep in that murky me, a dark light glowed. LikeI could feel myself burning away like a charred roast on a barbecue spit. the blue light inside the depths of a flame, where oxygen and carbon meet and fuel is consumed. I could feel myself burning away like a charred roast on a barbecue spit.

“Josh do you remember those leather boxes?”

It was like I was back in that small synagogue, the young rabbi wrapping those leather straps on my arm. But now I could see the energy running through those straps. A bright white light, much like the light that was coming through Hi’s arm. Just brighter. Much, much brighter.

“Did you feel different after wrapping tefillin?”

I saw myself walking away. The light of those leather boxes danced around my arms, my head and my heart like flames and sparks. And then, like the flame of lighter fluid when there’s nothing left to burn, they were gone.

“I know you tried once to do it yourself.”

I sunk into my place, hunched over, just at the mention of that disaster. I didn’t want to look. But it was in front of me whether my eyes were open or closed.

The leather straps, the boxes, they had that white light. But it wasn’t running through them the same. It just stayed there.

I watched myself in that fit of frustration, bitter and close to tears.

Again, that dark light was burning. It was eating away at me, like a worm eating away at all the puss and meanness inside me.

“Josh, do you know what this is?”

Hi held a small diamond in his hand. It shone and sparkled like no diamond I had ever seen. I still couldn’t talk. With difficulty, I shook my head.

“With this, I was able to descend here today.”

I still didn’t know what he was talking about. Until he placed the diamond on my arm. It melted. It was a teardrop. I recognized that teardrop.

Real Change

“You see,” said Hi. “At first it wasn’t you that changed. It was just light pouring down from above and through your soul. But nothing changed. Only when we shut that channel, only then did the real change begin.”

“I want that light back.”

“The light is not your mission. Your mission is to challenge the darkness.”

“The light made me a superhero.”

“SuperheroesSuperheroes are just there to help. Your mission is to make real change. are just there to help. Your mission is to make real change.”

“Real change in what?”

“In you. In your spacesuit. In the whole world around you. Wherever darkness reigns.”

I covered my face with my hands. Then I just looked up to the sky “So tell me what I’m supposed to do! Cuz I don’t see any change! Nothing! Show me!”

When I looked back down, Hi was staring at a device sitting in his hands. He looked up at me, then back down at the display. He seemed to be measuring something.

“Hold on, Josh,” he said. “You’ll need to come back here. They’ve agreed to let you see the world the way we see it from above. The real world.”

“On that little display of yours?” I asked.

Hi smiled that big, beautiful smile again. “No,” he said. “For real.”

Continue to Part IV