The Good Shepherd's Keeper: Vol. I
a story by B. Civyl
The Water-like Properties of Matter
“Thank you for joining us on CNN. I’m Vanessa Myers. With their campaign against rebel groups in the Idlib province all but wrapped up, Russian and Iranian backed Syrian forces have turned their attention to the country’s northeast and the oil fields being protected by American soldiers. Just last night it was reported that two Marines died when their patrol came under fire outside Qamishli by a rogue militia which has yet to be identified. American officials are mostly blaming Iran, accusing Quds Force soldiers of disbanding their uniforms to blend in as civilians in a coordinated ambush against American soldiers. Some leaders have warned, however, that the attack is part of a broader campaign by Russia to unnerve President Schuyler and make the U.S. occupation in Syria more tenuous.
“In related news, Turkish forces operating in Tal Abyad were attacked yesterday by the Syrian Arab Armed Forces, marking yet another violation in the Russian sponsored treaty which led to Ankara’s withdrawal from the Idlib province just months ago. Rumor has it that Syrian President Ghani al-Khalaf is furious with Moscow for agreeing to sell Turkey a fleet of Sukhoi SU-57 fighters in exchange for their withdrawal. Meanwhile, it is being reported that the Russian built S-500 surface-to-air missile systems obtained by Damascus in the agreement are being deployed to northeast Syria in range of both Turkish and American operations in the region. The move creates only more pressure on President Schuyler who must ask herself if a continued presence in Syria is worth the risk of say – the downing of one of the U.S.’s prized F-35 stealth fighters.”
* * * * *
Elijah spent the week in a state of despondence. Each day that passed brought with it no profound moments of cognizance; only a nagging self-doubt that nipped at his heart every time he passed Curtis at work or turned on the daily news:
FOLLOWERS OF DOOMSDAY SCHOLAR GIVING AWAY LIFE SAVINGS
Elijah clicked on the headline. He did not know why. He did not even bother to read the article. He only skimmed the words and scrolled down the page, never giving enough mind to actually retain what he read. The comments by the readers, however, grabbed his interest.
The vast majority of posters thought the scholar was a fool. Elijah supposed they would say the same about him if he ever went public with his own such prognostications. Many people quoted Mark 13:32, “But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.”
The passage was of little consequence, nor was the scholar’s prediction. Elijah found himself caring less and less as the week wore on. Even if it is true, he figured, the world is just going to have to end without me.
The way he saw it, God rejected his efforts for reasons he could not understand. No answers had yet to reveal themselves, and Elijah was fed up with searching for them. So he gave up trying. He ignored the signs and tried his best to get back to life as he once knew it. Besides, Sean’s firefighting competition was that weekend and he and Kristy reserved a hotel room in Baltimore to go cheer him on. There was no way he could back out after skipping Bonnie’s wedding. Of course, that is when clarity struck.
“Honey, I’m sorry but I can’t go!” The words jumped from Elijah’s mouth before he could even think of the repercussions.
Kristy snapped her head around from the bedroom closet. “What?!”
Elijah bounced on his toes, helplessly excited. “I figured it out! I know where I went wrong!” He tried to calm himself but could not. The high was too exhilarating. “Tell Sean I’m really sorry but I need to get back to work! I’ve got so much to do! I can’t waste this weekend!”
Kristy turned and placed a couple shirts in her suitcase atop the bed. “You mean like how you wasted last weekend? Are you kidding me right now?”
Elijah did not know why he bothered to explain. After the relief Kristy exhibited when he told her about Curtis shooting him down, he knew nothing he could say would help his wife understand his epiphany – but that did not stop him from running his mouth like an amphetamine junkie admitting a crime.
“I know what I’m supposed to be doing now! Curtis was right! I was creating a false idol! But an idol is only evil because it draws worship away from God! It replaces God as the primary role model in a person’s life! But what if that idol was to heap praise back upon God? Then it would cease to be evil and would become an instrument of God! That’s what I was missing! I’m supposed to be drawing worship to God, not away from Him! I can’t believe I didn’t see this before!”
Kristy slammed the lid of her suitcase closed and zipped it shut. “Oh, so what?! You’re a fucking priest now?! I thought you were done with all this!”
“I was! I mean I thought I was. I didn’t plan this. It just hit me right now. I don’t …”
“No! That’s fine! I see what’s important to you now! Not your family! Not your friends! You want to stay home and work on your holy fucking crusade – fine! Bryce and I will go cheer on Sean by ourselves!”
Elijah had never seen his wife so furious. Shame crept its way to the surface – not just for letting her down but also for his friend. Sean had been training for his competition for months. Elijah knew it meant the world to him to have his friends and family there to support him. His parents and sister were even flying in from Detroit. If only you believed in me – in what I’m experiencing – you’d see I have to do this. He could not bring himself to argue the point. “Please tell Sean I’m sorry.”
“You know what? You want to push your friends and family away – that’s on you!” Kristy dropped the suitcase to the floor and extended the carrying handle, yanking it behind her as she stormed toward the door. She stopped just into the hallway. “You can call Sean yourself and explain to him that this ridiculous idea of yours is more important than supporting your friend! I’m not doing your dirty work for you!”
“It’s not like that. I just …”
Kristy spun around and stomped down the stairs; the suitcase slamming against every step behind her. Before Elijah knew it, she collected Bryce and was out of the home. The house rattled as the door slammed behind her. She did not even afford him the chance to say goodbye to their son.
Guilt weighed on Elijah’s heart like cement shoes. How could I be so stupid? Maybe I should just call her and tell her to turn around. He would not pick up the phone, though, neither to call his wife nor to call Sean to explain his absence. Whether out of shame or fear, he decided the least painful course of action was to take no action at all. So he sat on his bed for the next half hour, silently torturing himself until he could not bear the shame any longer.
Stop feeling sorry for yourself. You’ve got work to do.
Elijah got up and brewed a pot of coffee. Then he brought his laptop to the living room, knowing that if he was going to write about God, he had a lot of studying to do. But with so many religions in the world the question remained: Where does one start? The answer was obvious. Start at the beginning. So Elijah typed “oldest religion” into Google and the answer he received was Hinduism.
Hinduism, Elijah read, existed before the creation of the world and will continue to exist after its destruction. This made sense to Elijah, even if he did not yet understand what he read about Shiva and Vishnu and the supposedly millions of other Hindu gods. What particularly stood out to him, though, were the teachings about consciousness.
Elijah read that consciousness exists in three states, the conscious, the subconscious, and the superconscious.
He did not know if the discovery was his own or if he was merely listening:
Because your guardian angel is a part of your own consciousness, you hear it in the same voice you hear your own thoughts. This is how God controls fate. He makes you think you’re acting on your own ideas when it’s actually angels of perhaps even God, Himself, using your subconscious to filter down instructions to you.
The revelation was mind-blowing. It makes so much sense now! This is how God is guiding me – not just through signs – He’s literally speaking into my head! The realization came with apprehension, though. But how do I know the difference between my own thoughts and the thoughts I hear sub-consciously? To answer this question, he turned to Hinduism once again, and the ancient practice of meditation.
Sitting on the floor the next morning with his legs crossed and his eyes shut – his mind only conscious of his breathing – he found the answer to a question he had not even thought to ask.
The realm of Heaven is made up of dark matter.
Elijah’s eyes shot open and his breathing stopped altogether. Of course! His meditation ended abruptly. He had to know more, so back to his laptop he went, this time to research about dark matter. He did not even know what he was looking for – an answer – But to what?
He would know it when he saw it. Of this he was certain. But when his study of dark matter turned up only more questions, he turned back to religion again – this time reading about Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism. Still, the answer eluded him.
Afternoon bled into nighttime but Elijah barely ate, only a bowl of cereal in front of his computer for lunch and a late-night pizza delivery that ended another meditation session. By Sunday morning he was back to reading of Abrahamic religions after only a few hours of sleep on the couch with his laptop still open, illuminating the dark room.
Somewhere along the way, Elijah read that when we think about God, we are meditating. He supposed he spent the entire weekend in meditation; not just his time sitting on the floor. Even in the shower, his mind spun in circles, computing all the information he took in over the weekend and trying to make sense of it all.
Then, with his head under the warm running water, the still cold porcelain under his feet – as he watched the steam rise all around him – it hit him. Elijah’s eyes went wide as he searched from side to side, half-expecting to see the Lord or an angel standing next to him, whispering in his ear.
He knew what he heard was true. He did not need a sign to tell him. He knew by the sensation that encompassed his entire body. He felt it before. Maybe it felt more spectacular in the warm water and the chill air, or maybe it was because he knew the answer to the world’s greatest mystery, but Elijah knew that God was with him at that moment. Never in his life had he felt so alive. His tears melded with the warm water and washed down the drain.
The sensation lasted only a few minutes, after which he hurried to finish his shower. Kristy would be home later that evening and he wanted more time with his computer – to research even further and find evidence to support his discovery. After he dried off and put on clean clothes, however, he was stunned to find his wife just outside the door, sitting at the dining room table with her face buried in her smartphone. To his surprise, she did not appear angry.
“You’re home early.”
“Bryce missed you.”
“Where is he?”
“He fell asleep on the car ride home. Still hasn’t woken up. I laid him down on the sofa if you want to go in and say hi.”
Elijah scratched at his head but did not move. “Nah. I’ll let him sleep.” He paused. Kristy did not break the silence. “You still mad at me?”
“Mad? No. I’m disappointed – but I’ll get over it.”
“What about Sean?”
“The same, but he forgives you. He’s a really good friend.”
“He is.” With Kristy in a far less hostile mood than when she left, Elijah decided to sit next to her.
“How’d he do?”
“He came in third.”
Elijah was proud of his friend, and again sad that he missed the competition. “So pretty good, huh?”
“Considering there were over a hundred contestants, yeah, he did fantastic. You’d be amazed at how fast he can climb a ladder.”
“I’m sorry I missed it.”
“You should be. You missed a good time. Even Miranda had fun. She and Jonathan are getting quite close.”
“Good for them.”
“How was your weekend? Did you get a lot done?”
Elijah chuckled but did not respond at first. He wanted desperately for her to believe in him, but she never bought into what he told her about the signs and angels, even though she played along. How was he supposed to convince her that he discovered the secret to the creation of the universe? So he remained vague. “It was … good. Productive.”
Neither said a word for a long moment. The tension in the air was tolerable, but palpable. His shit-eating grin did not help matters.
“What?” Kristy asked. “You’re not telling me something.”
Again, Elijah chuckled nervously. He could not hide it. He had to tell her something, so he eased her into the conversation. “You know how I told you that the spiritual realm is made up of antimatter?”
“Well, I spent all weekend researching and I figured something out. Get this.” He paused and grinned awkwardly. “So matter exists in three states: the common matter we can see and feel all around us, the spiritual realm of antimatter which is exactly like common matter except it has the opposite electrical charge, and then there’s dark matter – or Heaven. Now, according to Hinduism, the human consciousness also exists in three states. There’s the conscious which is our brain function here on Earth. There’s the subconscious which are our guardian angels made up of antimatter. And then there’s the superconscious which is essentially our souls plugged in in Heaven. This is what Christians refer to when they talk about mind, body and spirit. You with me so far?”
Kristy nodded but did not seem that ensured. “I guess.”
“Okay, now get this. Matter and the consciousness are both like water, which also exists in three states. There's ice which is a solid like common matter. Then there’s steam, which is a gas and is the exact opposite of ice, just like antimatter is the opposite of common matter. And then there's liquid water which is its neutral form, as dark matter, or Heaven, is the neutral form of matter.”
“Okay,” Kristy said, seemingly following along, or at least Elijah hoped.
“Now,” Elijah continued, “scientists think that when common matter and antimatter come into contact with each other, they annihilate each other in a powerful explosion that emits a bright light. But they’re completely ignoring the Law of Conservation of Mass which states that matter cannot be created or destroyed! That’s because common matter and antimatter don’t annihilate each other! They revert back to dark matter just like steam and ice revert back to water! That’s why scientists think the matter gets destroyed – because we only have the technology to find antimatter – not dark matter!”
Elijah’s veins pulsated with adrenaline as he got closer to concluding his theory.
“You see, common matter and antimatter aren’t exploding on contact! They’re imploding! The light created by this reaction is the same light that creates the tunnel of light people see when they die and come back to life – because at death the conscious and the subconscious come together and return back to Heaven! It’s even the same light that scientists say lights up a human egg at the time of conception! Again, it’s the manipulation of matter to divide the consciousness between realms! The Big Bang – that wasn't just an explosion that created the stars and planets! It was God literally taking a piece of Heaven and dividing it between the common matter of the world around us and the antimatter spirit world!”
Elijah slapped his hands down on the table with a thud. “This is it! This is the secret to the creation of the universe! And it's just like God's been telling us all along! … So what do you think? Is this not the most amazing thing you’ve ever heard?”
He waited anxiously for Kristy to explode with amazement, but after a long pause, she only sighed and shook her head. “I don't know, hon. It’s not like you're a physicist or something. You don’t have any way of proving it. Why should anyone believe you?”
Elijah was flabbergasted. He huffed and stared toward his feet. Inside, he wanted to scream. Why can’t you take me seriously?!
“This is why I don’t like talking to you about this anymore,” Kristy continued. “You get this idea that I'm suddenly going to agree with you, but I don't. I wish I could see it your way, I really do. I want to support you, but I'm not going to lie to you either. Someone needs to keep you grounded. Right?”
Every last drop of excitement faded. Elijah’s emotions, bursting with flavor just moments before, waned like an over-chewed piece of gum. “I don’t get it,” he groaned. “I tell you the answer to mankind's greatest mystery and I don't even get a, 'Wow! That's amazing!' … What do I have to say for you to believe in me?”
“I don't know. I’m sorry but I just don't know.”