The First Prayer – Missing Gift
By TED ROBERTS, the SCRIBBLER ON THE ROOF
It had been a busy six days even for the King of the Universe. The earth and all its contents – well, that was accomplishment enough. But the galaxies and the rules governing their orbit – sun, moon, and stars and that concept of infinite space. He was particularly proud of that. Just imagine!
The garden and its two occupants on planet earth dwelled not in a boxed enclosure, but in nothingness. No beginning, no end, no top, no bottom. It had to be that way since the universe was the mind of the creator and no one should stretch out his hand and touch that boundary. Thus was the first mystery introduced into the world.
Now, at the end of this sixth day, He would rest. And so with great satisfaction, He surveyed his handiwork and meditated on all that He had done. It was flawlessly complete. At least as complete as He intended it to be. Several ragged edges were purposely left unfinished. The creature called man must have a major mission besides mere survival. Or else why His creation?
But what was that squeak, that dim voice from below? It was the human He had made. It was addressing Him, his Creator. He was asking for His attention.
“Master, Creator, are you up there? Can you hear me?”
“I, who can hear a grasshopper land on a blade of grass can certainly hear my most favored creation when he calls out for me. Speak,” roared the Lord, God of creation.
“Beg your pardon, Sir, but you forgot something.” Remember this was before the dialogues with Abraham, Moses, Job, and the Prophets. The Creator was the architect of the universe and this puny voice out of a structure that He had engineered was accusing HIM of carelessness. Impudence of the highest degree!!
“I know you imbued your creation with hate because Cain threw a sharp stick at me. He is going to be trouble, I can tell. I beg of you that when you issue your rules, it would be helpful to include one commanding our offspring not to throw sticks at their parents. And Sir, you forgot something else, unnamable, but necessary for the four of us and those yet to come – if we must live together on your earth. We humans need it or we shall treat each other like the animals. You took great care with the mechanism whereby we nourish ourselves. A great job, Sir. And you marvelously designed the tools of procreation so that like the muskrats and elephants we could prolong our species. It seems to work splendidly. Already, two rabbits have grown to two hundred and it works wonderfully with mosquitoes, too. They swarm everywhere and feed off my flesh, but as I surveyed the garden, I noticed an unpleasant truth. Some of the species who existed on that first day no longer walked upon the garden’s mossy turf. I think I counted more rabbits yesterday. I think the wolves are eating the rabbits.”
The Lord listened with divine patience. Was He not patient? Later, did He not endure forty years of official complaints from the stiff-necked Children of Israel? So, surely He would listen to Adam, His first. He answered with controlled brevity. “Ah, you finally discovered the purposed flaw which I left in creation. Know that it is yours to correct, but what exactly do you think is missing?”
“It is difficult to explain, Sir,” said Adam, for he was voicing the complaint that something that should be within us is missing. And consider that he had a limited vocabulary even when speaking with his heart. “A feeling of kindness, of warmth, plainly is lacking in the animals. And us, too, I’m afraid. I know it is missing because I do not have it for the woman – is that the right word – you made for me. It’s like a warm feeling in the chest.
“It is not necessary – this feeling – for me and the woman to make more of us. I know. . . wait. I know how to explain it. It is like the feeling you told me you have for us. In a lesser degree, of course, but it would be constructive if we had that glow for our fellow creatures, like the new one that the woman carries in her stomach. Please, Sir, bestow upon us that warmth. Call it what you will.
“Your hearts are yours. I left them empty – how else could I implant free will? It must come from you,” boomed the Master of the Universe. “Even I have not the power to bestow it upon you without impeding your freedom. It is the blemish I left for you to cure. Without it you and generations yet to come will soak my earth with your blood. Now that you have discovered it – DO IT. I was waiting for you to notice its absence.”
And to show the universality of the human longing for goodness, perfection, an Armenian friend of mine, who nominally practices the Eastern Orthodox form of Catholicism, told me an ancient Armenian Midrash. Armenians are famed, you know, for rug making and similar skills. Like Jews, they suffered near genocide around 1915. Anyhow, my friend tells me that after months of weaving a rug for an emperor’s (or even a Wall Street Executive’s) palace, the rug maker leaves a small, almost invisible flaw in the tapestry. Why? I get a very Jewish sounding answer from my Armenian friend: “To remind us of the world’s imperfection and our mission. It echoes of Tikuun Olam; i.e., mighty Lord of the Universe, I, too, like you, leave a shred of my work undone. Who can outdo their Creator?”
But the Lord took delight in his creation. And without hesitation He bestowed the capacity to love upon his creatures. But only the capacity. It was their responsibility to fill the void. And He imbued a small dose even into the beasts. Some inherited much – some a little. Consequently, given the effectiveness of the procreation mechanism and the Lord’s granting of Adam’s wish, His breed still walks upon the earth. And Adam loved his helpmeet, Eve. And on Eden’s green fields the wolves, sometimes, lie down with the rabbits.