The First Passover

Lately, I’ve been re-reading through a Bible study I wrote last year called, “The Curses and the Covenants.” As I was doing this morning’s reading, I decided to edit and excerpt it to my blogs because of its relevance to this time of year. And because its Bible passage is a story that moves me to tears every time I read it ever since I’ve come to see it in a new light. There are many aspects to what the cross did for us. In Passover, I see the aspect of our redemption–our buying-back. So I thought I’d pass it on here. Happy Passover, Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday, everybody. I pray its meaning strikes us all in a new and deep way this year.

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Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the LORD: “Israel is My son, My firstborn. So I say to you, let My son go that he may serve me. But if you refuse to let him go, indeed I will kill your son, your firstborn” (Ex. 4:22-23).

‘The LORD will go throughout Egypt to kill the Egyptians. When he sees the blood on the top and sides of the doorframe, he will pass over that doorway, and he will not let the destroyer come into your home to kill you’”(Ex. 12:23).

And God spoke all these words, saying, ‘I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me…” (Ex. 20:1-2).

God does not approve of slavery. It’s contrary to His character. He’s the God of freedom. I believe it’s the reason He reminded His people of His role in freeing them from slavery immediately before giving them the ten commandments and asking them to serve Him. We were not created for autonomy. Complete autonomy is not available to us. We were created to serve. And serve we will. One way or the other. But God’s service is the service of freedom. We only enter into that service freely and by choice. The other master available to us is also chosen freely. At first. We enter into his service because we freely rejected service to God. But service to that other master quickly becomes slavery. So let’s take a look at the original Passover to see where God shows us His character of freedom by freeing His people from slavery.

In recent years, I’ve come almost to a whole new understanding of what really went on at Passover. I want to show you three things that led me to it.

Let’s talk first about “the destroyer.” Hearing this story in Sunday School, “the destroyer” was always called “the death angel.” So I’d always believed “the destroyer” to be God’s angel. I’d always thought that God went through the land of Egypt and killed all the firstborn not protected by the blood of a lamb. (From Exodus 12:23, I can see why I thought so.)

As with Noah’s flood, some problems arise in our minds with this God.

But because of sin, death is a terrible necessity. No one can live forever on this planet. Because of sin, we all will die one day, and I’m even grateful for it. Immortality without perfection is a nightmarish thought. And it’s God’s right to decide when that death-event happens for every one of us.

But we do need to see the destroyer’s role properly. Although God said repeatedly that He was the one responsible, Exodus 12:23 shows the destroyer to be directly responsible. The destroyer would strike the firstborn. God was responsible by giving the destroyer permission. Or not.

Who, then, was “the destroyer”? We’ve seen him as the snake in Genesis 3 when he first set the world on the path to destruction. Right! Satan!

Next, here’s something interesting about the Hebrew word “pasach”: It may mean “to pass over” (like, skip over), but it also means “to halt.”

Until I learned that interesting little tidbit, I had always pictured God seeing the blood of the lamb on the doorposts and skipping over the house. He “passed” it “over” for destruction. But when I thought of “pasach” as “to halt,” that new understanding of Passover fell into place for me.

Notice from Exodus 12:23 that God didn’t “pass over” the house but the door.

And third, think about that door: about the lamb’s blood on the two doorposts and the crosspiece on the top (or the lintel). Its placement has tremendous meaning for me now. Here’s my new understanding:

God and Satan went together throughout Egypt to kill the firstborn of all who were the legal property of the enemy. But that’s everyone!

Jesus called Satan “the ruler of this world,” and he attained that position because our first parents gave up their rulership rights to him by obeying him. Every one of us since have cast a vote or two for him. That ruler knows nothing except enslaving and destroying. But we have all unwittingly chosen him as master. And Satan can do what he wants with his property.

Still, God wasn’t willing to leave Satan’s slaves to lie in the beds they’d made. He wanted to buy back—redeem—His firstborn, Israel.

From Exodus 4:22-23, Israel was God’s firstborn. If Pharaoh wouldn’t set God’s firstborn free, God would require the life of Pharaoh’s firstborn.

But there was another exchange that had to take place first. The people God had called His firstborn had given Satan the rights to them. God had picked out a people as His firstborn, but they legally belonged to His enemy.

Yet God had another Firstborn—His first Firstborn. From eternity past.

As God and Satan went together throughout Egypt, God had given Satan permission to do as he wished with all of his own. But that included every firstborn. And God wanted a people as His own firstborn. So to buy them back, He made an arrangement with them. Any who were done with slavery and ready to be God’s servants could show their choice by the sign of blood on their doorposts. It showed their faith in asking to be rescued.

So Satan was permitted to enter any house without the lamb’s blood on the door. But when they came to a house where its inhabitants had asked to be rescued, God “passed over” the door. He halted before the door. He metaphorically passed Himself over the door. He blocked Satan’s path. He stretched out His hands to the blood on the doorposts and placed His head against the blood on the top in a “you-shall-not-pass-this-threshold” position.

God said that any asking for rescue would be rescued. Redeemed. Bought back. But the cost was His blood. The blood of the true Firstborn of the Father.

It was His thorn-crowned head and nail-pierced hands that painted the blood on the cross which was symbolized by the blood on the doorposts.

It wasn’t just a “you-shall-not-pass-this-threshold” stance that God took with Satan. On the cross, it was a “do-with-me-what-you-will” stance. He gave Himself up to the worst the destroyer could do to Him, rather than let Satan get at his own rightful property. And the firstborns were exchanged.

That was the legal means necessary for God to buy back an adopted firstborn nation for Himself. Then, a thousand-plus years after the original Passover, the blood on the cross that the blood on the doorway represented became the means of opening up that firstborn status to the whole world, not just one particular nation, anymore. That buying-back, that redemption, was offered to any who would metaphorically paint that Lamb’s blood on their own doorways. To any who would cry out to the God of Israel for rescue and choose to serve Him as the One True God. The One True God of the whole world. The original Passover has special meaning to the Jewish nation, but the rest of us now get to share in its larger meaning. That’s the truth I’ve now come to see through the first Passover event.

The Light of the World

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Nevertheless the gloom will not be upon her who is distressed, as when at first He lightly esteemed the land of Zebulun and the land of Napthali, and afterward more heavily oppressed her, by the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, in Galilee of the Gentiles. The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined. You have multiplied the nation and increased its joy; they rejoice before You according to the joy of harvest, as men rejoice when they divide the spoil. For You have broken the yoke of his burden and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, as in the day of Midian. For every warrior’s sandal from the noisy battle, and garments rolled in blood, will be used for burning and fuel of fire. For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given: And the government will be upon His shoulder, and His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this (Isa. 9:1-7, NKJV).

Some Christians think we shouldn’t be celebrating Christmas. Or at least we shouldn’t be celebrating Christmas when and how we do. Something about it having pagan roots with the pagans celebrating the passing of the darkest day of the year around this time and maybe some similarity in the ever-living, evergreen motifs between the pagan celebration and our modern celebrations. I don’t know. I hear different versions of why we celebrate Christmas when and how we do, and I didn’t bother to do research for the purposes of this blog post. Mainly because it’s not my issue.

Personally (from a northern-hemisphere perspective), I think this time of year is the perfect time to celebrate the incarnation.

I don’t think the “pagans” were wrong for wanting to have some fun to break up the long wintertime in the middle, nor wrong for breathing a sigh of relief and being glad to see the back of the shortest day of the year. Nor the Christians for co-opting these traditions into their own celebrations. There’s nothing inherently ungodly about enjoying the changing of the seasons. On the contrary, I say. In the Christian view, God made the seasons.

Where the pagans celebrated nature through their worship of false gods, of course Christians would want to leave behind the worship-of-the-false-gods parts of the affair while keeping the good and true parts—in the same manner that we’ve always had to pick our way through the culture around us. “In and not of,” so to speak, finding the common ground we can with anyone we can while standing firm on the things we believe to be compromising to the faith (and those pricks of the conscience will be different for different Christians, so my issue in this blog is also not trying to convince anyone to celebrate Christmas against his or her conscience. This bit was just explaining why I, personally, don’t have conscience-pricks about celebrating Christmas when and how we do. In fact, my conscience wholeheartedly embraces the celebration.)

And again, personally, I find this time of year the perfect time of year to celebrate the incarnation and Christ’s birth. We don’t know the date of Jesus’ actual birthday, so why not December 25th? It’s that darkest-season-of-the-year-becoming-lighter-again time that seems perfectly fitting for what we’re celebrating. That is the story of the incarnation: “God with us.” God coming down to us and making Himself one of us. His light piercing our darkness. His little signs of coming springtime promising the ultimate defeat of the “White Witch” and the seemingly-endless winter of that power’s reign over our fallen world.

Even though I’m an odd one and I love winter (my favourite season, probably in no small part due to its associations for me with the joys of Christmas), even I wouldn’t want winter to last forever. Around about mid-March, I’ve had more than enough. By the end of March, the subtle signs of the natural resurrection that happens every year and the new life that’s on its way is potently meaningful to me. Especially in contrast to the half a year of winter we’ve just survived.

And it’s the contrast—the light being set off by the darkness, showing itself even more beautiful against the backdrop of blackness—that I find myself returning to again and again as a theme this year.

Today, some thoughts occurred to me on the story of the magi that prompted this blog post on the subject of “the Light of the World.”

How significant and symbolic that part of the Christmas narrative is!

I was watching a YouTube clip on the subject of the “Christmas star” and how, perhaps, the original “Christmas star” may have been an unusual conjunction of planets that the astronomy experts of that time would have noticed and (also being astrologers) would have read some meaning into. Being able to look into the natural past in a way by reading the history of the heavens, modern-day astronomy experts have some knowledge of what went on in that heavenly history. And it seems there were some planet-alignments similar to this most recent event that would have occurred around the broad dates of the birth of Jesus. These heavenly events could have fit the bill for a “star” that seemed to come and go and move as described in Matthew (planets being “stars” that don’t hold still like the rest). It was an interesting clip, so I’ll post the link. But again, not entirely my issue this post.

Whatever the heavenly pinpoint of light we call a star that led the wise men to Bethlehem, it’s the deeper meaning behind the event that struck me today. That light shining in the darkness that the world doesn’t apprehend or comprehend (John 1:5), what an appropriate symbol for the celebration of this time of year.

Our sun, of course, is also a star. But its proximity is what makes it the light of our world. From our perspective, the rest of the stars (and heavenly dots of light that we refer to under the generic term of “stars”) are just dots and pinpoints. Just little signs. Just little reminders of the beauty of light in the midst of darkness.

It also struck me as fitting that these mysterious characters, the magi, saw the star of the “King of the Jews” in the east but somehow recognized it as a sign of the “King of the Jews.” Bible scholars have long wondered if this was the influence of prophets like Daniel or other exiled Jews in Babylon and Persia who managed to leave a lasting legacy of the knowledge of a future, coming Jewish Messiah (King).

He is “the Light of the World.” From the start of the nation, the Light of the World was never about working solely with one, chosen nation. One large point of choosing one particular man to become one particular nation was for the sake of preserving the knowledge of Himself and shining it out as a little pinpoint of light into its dark surroundings when all the other peoples of the world had neglected or rejected the knowledge of a One True God (see Genesis 12:3).

How mind-blowing and beautiful that it was Gentile astronomers/astrologers who grasped enough of the truth to come on a long journey for the purpose of worshipping the Light of the World they knew of in such a distant way.

The story has a very dark follow-up with Herod the Great’s slaughter of the innocents around Bethlehem. But that is also ultra-typical. The fight between the light and dark is fierce, but ultimately, the darkness cannot overcome it.


I don’t know about you, but I personally (and I know this is true for a lot of us) am leaving behind a rather dark year. And maybe, we’re not very optimistic for what’s to come. But there are pinpoints of light in the distance. Our Sun will rise one day. The Light of the World has not abdicated. The White Witch will not win ultimately. It’s still the Son’s world, and He’s still its light. 2020 is bringing us closer to perfect vision, and light is all about seeing things as they truly are. The darkness looks darker and darker, but it’s showing us more and more the beauty of the light by contrast. The stars are only visible when all other light is absent.

Although this Christmas, I was half-boycotting all the usual things I would do to celebrate (because I wasn’t feeling very festive and I didn’t see a point to just going through the motions when those motions weren’t having their usual effect on me), no matter my state of mind, I never fail to be moved by the yearly-traditional words about the truths I celebrate—all year round but in a special way this time of year.

“… and you shall call His name JESUS [‘Saviour’], for He will save His people from their sins.” “‘Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,’ which is translated, ‘God with us.'”

“‘Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord’… And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!'”

That’s what we celebrate this time of year. “God with us.” Not against us. Coming down to us as one of us. Becoming a human baby for the purpose of breaking down the barriers of darkness between us. Good tidings of great joy to ALL PEOPLE! Peace with God and His goodwill toward us, offering us a Saviour to save His people from their sins.

His light in our darkness! That’s what it’s all about!

Sweet Serenity

I didn’t want to argue with my counsellor, but I found myself doing it, anyway.

He’d been describing metacognition to me. As a step in my depression recovery, I needed to learn the art of thinking about thinking. I was to attempt to stand back from my stream of consciousness and watch the river roll by as though I was standing on its bank like an objective observer—not at its mercy, carried away on its torrent, dashed helplessly against every rock it encountered. I was to try to teach myself to differentiate myself—my real self, I suppose—from my thoughts.

“I don’t think I can agree that I am not my thoughts. If I’m not my thoughts, who am I?” I protested.

I am not my body. I am at present contained in a body. But when the body no longer contains me, I will not be worm food or scattered ashes. That part of me never was the real me.

But it influences and intersects with the real me. I am not my brain. But my brain is the organ, a part of the body, the real me uses. How can I know where the real me and the outward part of me that’s all entangled with the real me starts or stops? I tried to express these thoughts to the counselor.

The discussion was getting a little metaphysical for the therapy session.

I don’t think my counsellor was used to being argued with. He seemed a little taken aback. And he didn’t have an answer. He didn’t seem to know who I was. We were in the same boat there. I couldn’t tell him who I was, either. At least, if I was somehow distinct and separate from my thoughts.

After all, the me standing on the river bank, watching the angry current beat its head against every obstacle in its way, is still my thoughts. Thinking about thinking is still thinking. I am still my thoughts. It’s just that there are many different “me”s it seems.

The real me is the river, never the same from one spot to another. How can I know the real me when the river is always changing? And yet, paradoxically, the river is the same river. The real me is always the real me, however much she changes.

True, I don’t think of all of my thoughts as the “real me.” That’s because I don’t believe all of my thoughts. Perhaps this is as close as I can come to knowing who the real me is: The real me is the sum total of my beliefs and my experiences and memories and my beliefs about and interpretations of those experiences and memories, even as they change and grow. And maybe something or someone beyond my cognition that I don’t even know. God alone knows the real me.

At present, I’m collaborating on a book. It will be partially an autobiography and partially a biography. The autobiographical part is taken from journals and the biography is told to me in weekly instalments for me to organize into narrative form. The author has just recently been diagnosed with dementia. It’s vital that we get her story onto paper as soon as we can. I can see how important it is to my new friend to do this task. She doesn’t want to lose herself completely as she loses the full functioning of her brain. Having her thoughts and her beliefs and her experiences and her memories in book form to look back helps calm the fear of that loss.

It’s funny how fiction may turn nonfictional. Years ago I wrote a novel on this subject. I called it Sweet Serenity. The main character was named Serenity Sweet, and she had just been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s. I interwove her old fictional journal entries with her present thoughts as she watched her brain deteriorate. I wanted to write the book to explore the question I accidentally dragged my counsellor into: “Who am I? Really?”

As the organ breaks down that the real me, as long as it’s contained within a body, uses, what becomes of me? The real me?

I wrote Sweet Serenity standing on the verge of watching my mother degenerate for the next five years with Parkinson’s and dementia. And yet, I don’t know that I knew less about the subject of “the real me” then when I wrote about it. I don’t know that I know more about it now. The conclusion I came to then is still my conclusion. God alone knows the real me. But the exploration of the human soul is endlessly fascinating to me. Only one question more fascinating: “Who is God? Really?”

And that’s the other question I want to explore in a new reincarnation of Sweet Serenity.

If I can’t even know the real me, how can I know the real God?

How is it possible to know someone unless there’s communication between the two parties? How can I know God if I can’t hear from Him? I must be able to hear from Him? But how can I know when I’m hearing from Him?

I don’t believe I have dementia (yet. Not as far as I know), but in other ways, my brain is broken. In my struggles with mental illness, I’ve learned that my brain can’t be trusted. It doesn’t always tell me the truth. It misleads. It distorts. It twists and warps. I’m not alone in my condition. We’re all mentally ill. None of us have a brain that is entirely trustworthy. None of us knows all truth.

But any communication with another must pass through the brain. How is any communication and any real relationship possible with anyone when the brain can’t be trusted? Not only, how can I know the real me, but how can I know anyone else? Especially God?

The complications of relationship, of knowing another mind or even my own, grow exponentially when the person in question is invisible and inaudible. How can I know when I’ve heard from God?

To me, the two fundamental questions of life for each individual are, “Who am I?” and, “Who is God?” Perhaps the order of those questions should be reversed for order of importance, but chronologically, we first begin wondering about ourselves, trying to know and understand ourselves.

If that’s a hopeless quest, how much more hopeless the quest of knowing anyone else, and how much, much more hopeless the quest of knowing God.

At least, that would be the case. Were it not for one thing. God wants to be known. He has made Himself knowable. Relationally. To me. To anyone willing.

And He knows me. He knows the real me. He can make me knowable.

Because there is a God who can be known and who knows me, what I need to know can be known. I don’t need to know it all. I need to know what I need to know. And that little is knowable. Because He is the revealer of secrets.

That’s my ultimate conclusion. What I need to know I can know.

Well, all this exploration is what I wanted to write Sweet Serenity to do, weaving the narrative of the fictional story together with the real life questions that fascinate me.

It’s a project I’m excited to start once I finish my present collaboration project. If it materializes, I’ll let you know how I get on with it.

The Onlooker?

Somehow, within the past few weeks, I’ve gone from zero jobs to three. I grandpa-sit for a couple hours a week, I’m collabing on a book, and I’ve temporarily taken on the custodian job at my church. (The regular custodian is down for the count while waiting for his back to heal from whatever went wrong with it; he’s not sure. He’s anticipating that he’ll be out for a few weeks, anyway. For his sake, I hope he’s feeling much better soon, but I’m grateful for the work. A blessing from a misfortune. In a deeper way, that’s the subject of this post.)

The book job is the first time I’ve tried my hand at ghostwriting. I’ve just come from my weekly book meeting, and I’m feeling rather drained. The story I’m working on is an emotional one. As I listened to my new friend’s story in more detail today, I couldn’t quite keep it together. I lost it on the part where, without raising a finger to help, an onlooker (in a manner of speaking) looked on (in the same manner of speaking) while her trauma was happening. He could have intervened, but he chose not to.

But my fury at the behaviour of the bystander brought back years of wrestling with God over this issue. We may sometimes be bystanders to the evil going on in the world, but we’re often helpless bystanders. God really could intervene. If He chose. Why doesn’t He choose? More often?

Sometimes He does. I’m sure we’ve all heard the stories of miraculous deliverance. And those are just the stories of miraculous deliverance we can see. Under the surface, there are unseen deliverances no one may ever know anything about. But above the surface, the stories of no miraculous deliverance vastly outnumber the stories of miraculous deliverance. Miracles are, by definition, out of the ordinary. The ordinary is the unspeakable that goes on every day. The unspeakable that God doesn’t choose to stop.

What do we make of it?

It’s the same ol, same ol answer, isn’t it? That’s all we’re left with. God’s ways are higher. We are not privy to God’s omni-knowledge, and so our role is to intervene in the evil wherever we come face-to-face with it. For us, it’s evil not to intervene. It’s not wrong, it’s not evil, for God to withhold His interference because He alone knows how much evil and its consequence (suffering) He can and must allow. He knows what good purposes He can turn those evil events into.

The answer doesn’t sit well with us. The evil is so evil. How could good possibly come from it?

That’s the story I’m writing in my third job. It’s really the same ol, same ol story about the same ol, same ol answer. It’s different every time, but it’s the same in that it’s always a story of redemption. A story of Romans 8:28. For those who love God and are the called. According to His good purposes. He will only allow what He must to do the work He must. In our lives and His universe.

I see that redemption story in vivid colour in the life of my new friend. I have no doubt that her present joy is in no way hampered by the unsavoury life experiences enacted upon her. It’s shaped by them. It adds to God’s glory in her own mind to know what He’s brought her through. Those life experiences taught her to know Him in a new way. Now He’s using those unsavoury experiences again. There are other trauma survivors who need to know the same truths that beam from her face. Yes, He is the Redeemer. And now He’s redeeming my friend’s past once again. And multiplying His good purposes through it.

He is no onlooker. He is actively involved. Not in the evil but in redeeming its consequences. I’m reminded anew of it through this ghostwriting job. It was a truth I needed to hear yet again today.

First Impressions

I’m looking for feedback on an intro I wrote for a possible writing project. I won’t say more than I’ve said in this prologue as the book is only a possibility at this point, and I’m not sure about the direction of it as I’ve envisioned it. But what do you think of the potential project and this opener? Would the project be something you’d be interested to read based on the info in the intro? Would the intro keep you reading? Further suggestions?

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I don’t know what I was expecting, but it wasn’t the striking, silver-haired, vibrant beauty, appearing to be in her mid-fifties, that greeted me when the door opened.

Her house was almost as charming and interesting as its owner. It had been a standard double-wide mobile home on the standard lot in the standard mobile home park, but her personal touch gave it a homey winsomeness: the cedar-clad sun porch where her two birds kept up a running commentary, the tiny backyard that had been transformed into a trellised rose garden fit for the fairies, the just-right pieces of old furniture throughout the house that gave it an inviting atmosphere, the cosy study with its desk lamp and easy chairs and bookcases where treasured family photos smiled at us from the walls. Two pictures in particular begged my notice, looking like publicity stills from a big studio in the golden years of Hollywood.

“Who are the movie stars?” I joked, already guessing the answer.

The portraits were the graduation photos of her and her late husband, she informed me.

As she unfolded her life story later in our visit, it would occur to me that looks like hers could be seen as a blessing… or a curse. Some of the tragic events she detailed were not disconnected from her undeniable beauty. But in turn those tragic events had been used as the Sculptor’s tools to create His true masterpiece: the inner radiance that, within seconds of meeting this human work of art, outshone her lovely exterior.

As I toured the house and gleaned a sense of my tour guide from her surroundings and the snippets of information she tossed me casually, I was already formulating the book in my head. The original idea had been to turn her spiritual journals into a proper book: a book of inspirational writings and poetry. When she read me snatches from her journal, I knew that the book she’d been envisioning needed to be her own insights in her own words. Everything about this woman was beautiful. The beauty of her book would come from her own heart and mind.

But the long shelf of photo albums in the study and the pieces of information that were emerging hinted at a life story that needed to be told. I sensed a story that would turn out to be as beautiful as everything else about this surprising woman.

In keeping with the theme of the beauty of everything that surrounded her, I admired the extensive collection of blue and white chinese porcelain in her dining room hutch. She poured boiling water into separate teapots with cups and saucers to match (separate so we could choose whatever tea suited our fancies from her also-extensive collection of tea flavours). As we stirred our tea in the china cups, she stated matter-of-factly, almost lightheartedly, “I’m eighty-two, and I have dementia, so I can’t remember what just happened. Like, duh! Where’d I park the car? But the distant past, that stuff I have downpat still.” She laughed, so I did, too.

But I knew someone needed to record her story while it was still fresh and clear in her memory, and the more I saw of her, the more I wanted that someone to be me.

I began plotting. The book wouldn’t be strictly a book of spiritual inspiration and poetry. Maybe a memoir interspersed with her journal entries. At this stage, she’d need a ghostwriter for the memoir, and I was just the ghost to write it! I knew I had to have the job! I could already taste it. I wanted to somehow capture on paper the beauty and fascination of this woman the way I saw her. But the memoir would need to be written in the first person as though I was she. And one can’t very well write about one’s stunning beauty in the first person. So maybe there would need to be a short introduction to the book to record my first impressions of the woman behind the life story and to explain that the narrative bits were her own story but would be bulked out by the fluff I, the ghost, would add.

The eloquent parts, however, would be all hers. Her own voice. Her own discoveries. As told in her own journals.

I would write about what had happened to her. She would tell us what she thought about what had happened to her as it was happening.

Even though I didn’t know more than bits and pieces of her story, the book was already taking shape in my head as we parked ourselves on the easy chairs, cups of tea in hand. As she prepared to lay out the entirety of her eighty-year life story, she made herself comfortable. Looking like a teenager, she tucked the rolled cuffs of her jeans and her pink-ballet-style-slipper-clad feet under her in her seat. But for the two hours it took to tell, I could feel myself perching on the edge of mine…