What Is the Desert of the Shadow of Death?
The Language of the Soul
I started to write on this subject for this section of my website so many times. I had several drafts—the long ones and the short ones. None of them worked . . . I thought the problem was with the vocabulary and the language I was using. After all, it must capture the essence of my vision and experience.
I was determined to write about it in a way that assures you, the readers, will get it. Easily and clearly. I felt responsible for delivering this information to you exactly how I saw it. Exactly what I experienced. Exactly as I felt it. Exactly! Perfectly!
“Which single language is better suited to support my ability to properly convey my thoughts?
“The language of science, the language of poetry? Maybe?
“The language of psychology perhaps?
“Hmm . . . Carl Jung or Viktor Frankl?
“Quantum physics or anything else?”
I went back and forth; I tried one way and then another. Something was not clicking.
“How else can you really speak about something that esoteric, that invisible as a realm . . . where the Shadow of Death resides and hovers?”
More thinking. More writing. More trying. Pages and pages and pages of nothing.
The “aha” moment arrived quietly and softly, as usual:
“You cannot think your way through the Desert of the Shadow of Death. It’s not a realm of brain/mind. You know that. The Desert of the Shadow of Death is not a place for the mind. Those who enter with their minds will . . . lose it!
“And you know that! Then why would you think that you can write about it logically, intellectually? Detached? As an aloof observer? Who gave you this idea?
“Also, it’s NOT a place where feelings can survive. You know that too! Those who enter with their hearts will get stuck in the Desert . . . and will never cross it.
“The language of suffering will not work here as well.
“You know better! This realm, this Journey, can ONLY be traveled by the Soul. Therefore, the job of storytelling is the work of the Soul; it needs to be told in its native language.”
The native language of my Soul . . . What is THAT?
The language of any soul is their TRUTH. The truth that is spoken in the most simple form possible. Nothing complex. No pretense. No push or pull. Sometimes it may even come across as naïve. Just as a child conversation . . . just what IS.
The language of the Soul is like the waves of the inner ocean, where each wave holds its own unique present that’s softly delivered to the shores of our consciousness from deep within.
It is what it is. Just LOVE . . . Love too is our memory.
Yes . . . if we remember, honor, and speak about who and what we love, then we will remember EVERYTHING that’s worth memorizing . . . and we will be able to speak it in a way that others can hear us.
SHALL WE TRY?
My Yellow Butterfly
When I was growing up, no one ever spoke to me about the Desert of Death and its shadow. Yet it was all around me . . . waiting. My upbringing was secular, and so were my surroundings. Therefore, the spiritual part of this topic was not a part of conversations or imagery then.The reality of that realm was not part of the vocabulary used in those days. Therefore, it had no room for existence. Yet it was there. Waiting to be discovered.
When did I first meet Death? I know exactly “when.” The details of that day are still as vivid as freshly cut flowers. Or at least it feels that way.
Katia was my best friend. If we, as humans, could be born out of flowers, then she, for sure, would be the child of daisies.
Sweet, kind, and full of innocent magic. Daisies were always her favored flower among those we used when we were twining our flower wreaths and bracelets. Daisies and butterflies were all around us.
Katia had a soft laugh and silky blond hair, which usually was braided with chiffon bows on the ends. Just like mine. She had big sky-blue eyes and puffy pink cheeks, with a few dots of freckles here and there, mostly on her nose.
We were inseparable, as if we were glued to each other by invisible fairy dust. There was something magnetic in our connection; we knew each other.
Without talking, we knew. Yet we talked.
She was a storyteller. I was a listener. Katia was living in a world of colors, sparkles, and butterflies. She belonged there too. Her stories were marvelous.
Katia was convinced that she could hear butterflies talking. “They can hear us too!” she once whispered in my ear. “They understand us. Just don’t tell this to anyone. That is a secret. Our secret.”
I was good at keeping secrets. I did not tell anyone. ’Til now!
We had a large empty matchbox. This box was designated as a temporary home for butterflies so Katia could talk to them one-on-one. Discreetly. Privately. It was very important to hear what they had to say.
“Shhhh,” Katia would say, “listen!”
Placing the box right against my ear, Katia would say, “Listen, listen . . . what is she saying to you?”
The only thing I heard were the movements of the butterfly’s wings inside the box as they were touching the walls. Nothing else!
“I don’t hear anything, Katia. I don’t hear anything.”
With her blue eyes staring at me, she was waiting with anticipation for me to discover what she knew all along . . . that butterflies could talk; she wanted me to hear it!
“Okay. Maybe next time?”
The box was moved to her ear with which she listened with the same intensity and care as a doctor listens to the stethoscope that is placed on the lungs or the heart of his patient.
“What are you saying? . . . Hmmm . . . yes . . . yes . . . hmm . . . hmm . . . I see.
“I will tell you later,” she always assured me of that. “Now we need to let her go.”
Slowly and carefully, the box was opened, and then together we would whisper, as if it was a prayer or a chant, “Fly away, fly away, fly away . . .”
Seeing a butterfly flying away always caused laughter and giggles in us. Always!
And then one day, Katia did not come. I waited all day! I tried to remember what we did the day before. What did we talk about it? What stories did she tell me? Did she tell all?
She did not come the day after that too!
Soon, I was told that Katia had gotten infected with hepatitis, and she had been placed in a hospital for people with infectious diseases . . . meaning no one could visit her.
Those were the rules in our time and place. No one could visit . . . not even her parents. Days, weeks flew by.
The month of August came.
One day, I was told to go see the nurse. (Seeing the nurse was never a good sign.) Her office smelled like a bottle of bleach, with an undertone of alcohol. My stomach clenched up in knots.
“Sit!” said the nurse; she pointed me to a chair in the corner.
“Listen, my girl, Katia is not coming anymore. Tomorrow, here, we will have a funeral. I know that you don’t understand. I know that you two were friends. I know that you miss her. Tomorrow you will be able to see her for the last time and say your farewell. But I need you to promise me that tomorrow you will not be yelling and screaming or I will have to give you a shot. You will be a good girl tomorrow. Yes? Promise?”
That smell of bleach was making me nauseous. What is a funeral? What does she mean “last time”?
The next day around lunchtime, our group of 25 to 30 children was placed right in front of several windows.
Our room was located on the second floor, and we had a very good view of the alley that led to the main gates of our kindergarten. I was in the first row, right next to the open window. The warm August breath felt very soothing and calming. We were told to stay still, be quiet, and wait. But who listened?
With the first sounds of the funeral music, all of us got very quiet; no shushing was needed.
I pressed my face to the glass . . . looking down. I was searching for someone, for Katia. The nurse promised me that I would be able to see her. Where is she?
I noticed a group of people below; most were women wearing black. Their heads were covered. A few men were wearing white shirts. I saw musicians holding different large instruments. The sunlight was reflecting on them as if they were mirrors. The group started to move forward in unison with the sounds of the music.
And suddenly, there she was, lying in a tiny casket that, from above, reminded me of the matchbox we used for our butterflies. My eyes locked onto what was inside the casket.
My Katia . . . in her favorite yellow dress with large white polka dots; she was lying very still.
Her hair was braided with two large white bows at the ends. A flower wreath made with daisies was resting on top of her head. She was looking festive; only her cheeks were not pink and puffy anymore. Inside that coffin, she looked just like a yellow butterfly . . . the ones we used to catch and talk to.
The funeral music was fillin me up like the way air fills a balloon. I was feeling something that I’d never felt before. I felt as if I was about to explode, just like a balloon with too much air in it, into the smallest pieces—the kaboom was coming.
The casket was slowly floating on the shoulders of the men pallbearers, who, from above, looked like dark and rainy clouds. The only bright spot was Katia—my yellow butterfly.
“Why is she not flying away? The box is open. Why are you not flying away, Katichka?” I screamed at the top of my lungs . . . silently, “Fly away . . . fly away . . . fly away!”
I could not keep the sounds of the funeral music inside of me anymore. “Fly away . . . fly away!” Every single inch of me became louder than any sound of the music outside. “Fly away . . . now . . . fly away!” My body was vibrating as a mute piano.
I heard her laughter right next to me. I turned around. Where are you? Where is she? Wheeere aaaare youuuuuu?
Some of the kids next to me were sobbing. I saw tears. Wet faces. Then I heard her giggle again, but I could not see her. I turned back to the window.
Something touched my face—wind? I looked straight ahead; where are you?
The funeral procession was slowly moving forward, but now some trees blocked the view. The music was still playing—farther and farther away with each passing moment.
Everyone started to move away from the window. I was left alone . . . still looking for something. Still trying to see beyond the trees
A yellow butterfly landed on the window, right next to my face. Our eyes met. We knew!
“You flew away, you flew away, you flew away . . . Katichka!
She was five; so was I.
Never again did I put butterflies or any other bugs inside a matchbox—never again!
Many encounters with Death later (different ones—friends, relatives, and classmates), many funerals later . . . here I was, under a full moon, facing the shift of my own son.
Many meetings with Death, indeed, yet none of them prepared me for what was about to take place.
Regardless how painful and severe they had all felt to me . . . nothing came even close. Nothing!
The gate to the Desert of Death was now wide open for me to enter; that is where I was dropped by the Hand of Fate that day.
Location, Location, Location . . .
At times I have wondered “Why?” in any previous situations and meetings with Death I was not dropped there . . . in the Desert of Death. After all, I loved many of those who are not in the physical realm any longer. I even held their hands as they were passing over.
Three times . . . three times I saw many things at those times, but never this!
Whatever the reason might be, the split of the body and the soul as a result of traumatic events, the depth of a shock, the acceleration of the frequency of an individual’s vibration, any other psychological or mystical reasons, or anything between (which I still need time to think about), it happened only when it was related to my son.
I have also wondered many times about its location. How come ’til this day we do not know the longitude and latitude of the Desert of Death? Do you? To what World, what Realm, what Dimension does it belong?
For sure, I did not know then. I had no clue.
I was clueless, when one day (one so-called otherwise “normal” day), I was suddenly picked up from my usual life . . . and dropped somewhere dark and cold.
It happened at the moment when I first learned about my son. The life that I had known stopped! It disappeared in a split second! Dreams, hopes, and plans . . . everything was wiped out just as the dust from a glass coffee table. Swiff . . . and everything was gone!
I found myself lying on very dry and dusty ground. It was nighttime in this new place; I did not know where I was. At least, not right away.
What I did know was that I was now in some kind of alternate reality. Not in a vision. Not in a dream. No. No. No.
It was NOW as if I had walked inside an already-running movie and had myself become part of its narrative—whatever the overall storyline might be. Who is the director? Who is the producer? Who wrote this script?It was an unexplainable feeling of an unexplainable experience in an unexplainable situation. It was as if suddenly two realities collided.
As if two parallel universes crossed each other’s paths by mistake (or by some design—who knows) . . . and I just happened to be at the point of their intersection, able to enter into the vortex of a reality that we, as humans, are not allowed to see.
It felt to me as if the “walls” between worlds became translucent and transparent. Or as if no walls existed at all. I could see the physical reality and the other one at the same time. I could do the viewing and not the functioning process.
Allow me to close my eyes and I will tell you exactly what I was seeing then. Interestingly enough, now I can go there at any time at will and then come back to you again. But not then.
As I was saying, I was lying on a very cold and dry ground in darkness. I was alone. I could not move. My body did not have even a glimpse of energy or strength. I was pinned to the ground by a gravitational pull.
Then I saw the piercing eyes of my son looking right at me from the depths of the darkness. Since I could not stand up on my own, he pulled me up . . . and dragged me to a cave that was close by for safety.
That’s where he told me that I could neither look back nor look forward. Not into my past nor into my future.
As he was talking, I could not understand half of what he was saying. He told me my questions would eventually beanswered, over time, if ONLY I look at the present . . . and learn how to stay in it.
He assured me that I was very much loved by him and others. He also said that, in truth, nothing really changed, that I am still his mom and he is still my son. And that Death is not what we think it is, that I should not be afraid, and that he is fine and well.
“Look at me,” he said, “can’t you see I’m here next to you? We are talking as we always did.” I could see him very clearly. I almost could touch him. I wanted to hug him and never let go. Not at that time. Later, I could. Few times.
He assured me that we are bound by our eternal love, faith, and trust . . . and that he was never going to leave me. Never! Never! Never!
“Trust me, Mom, trust me as I trusted you!”
He was referring to the time I used to tell him that if something would ever happen to him, and if the whole world were to stand against him, that I would believe him over anyone, that I would stand by him, and that he had to trust that. At that point, I was asking my son to know and to trust that, if needed, I would go to the end of the Universe to get him and be with him. I used to tell him that what we have is unbreakable and can’t be changed.
Little did I know that he would be the one who would come after me into the darkest places of the Universe . . . that he would be the one who would guide me, teach me, protect me, and fight for me. He was my baby who should not be pulling all that weight! That was my job as a mother to do. It was my time to go—not his!
But no one asked me—no one! That is why one day when I cross over, there will be a very serious conversation between me and whoever wrote this script. I know it will be so!
Yes, my son became my most trusted teacher. And that Desert of Death became my classroom and my place of metamorphosis—the place where Dr. Ella died and SaRaH emerged.
The Desert of the Shadow of Death
The next morning, my journey started from inside the cave. I literally crawled out of the cave, scraping and cutting my skin until it hurt.
The sun was high in the sky, and I could clearly see that I was in the middle of the desert. This was not a desert where sometimes you can see trees or some kind of vegetation. Nor did it look like any valley. As far I could see, there were no trees. No trees at all . . .
I saw an endless sky. Was I hallucinating? I touched dried mud and stones. Everything felt so real. A feeling of desolation was becoming very vivid too.
I started to take a closer look around just to get an idea of where I was. I noticed an entry to the caves. There were many caves and rocks . . . and it was really hot and salty. Later on, when I saw the actual Negev Desert in Israel, it was very close to what I was seeing in front of me at that time.
The caves were different from one another; some had a single room, others had a bunch of rooms, some were big, and some were small. I could hear some noises coming out from one of the other caves. Wailing. Weeping. Some quiet sounds and some loud as well.
I noticed some people wandering around. It did not feel like they had any purpose. It looked as if they were just wandering around . . . lost? From where? They wore ripped-up clothes and looked old and weary, though not all of them were old. I saw women with messy gray hair. The men were very skinny and fragile. All of them looked ill, exhausted, and drained.
I was not sure how or why, but I started to get the feeling as if I was in the middle of a leper colony. What was I doing there? Who are all those people? Do I have leprosy too? How? Why am I here? Where am I?
It took time, and many conversations with my son, before I started to understand that I was dropped in the Desert of Death, not the Valley of Death as we are led to believe. There was no shade, not a single blade of grass. No place to rest or hide during the day or night, except inside the cave. It was for sure a Desert. A very hot, very dry Desert. And very cold nights.
The Suffering of a Soul
Not immediately, but over time, I was able to grasp the fact and reality that who I was seeing were not “people,” per se, but rather the souls of people who were suffering and grieving and who could not shift out of the Desert of Death for one reason or another.
What I saw (and where I was dropped) was a place for souls only. It was a world of souls. Where souls were going through a test for which they were chosen and subjected to.
And it was not a part of our physical reality, our corporeal world. It was a specific realm. A realm where you can’t cheat or manipulate your way out. Where sensations, events, things, etc., that belong to the corporeal reality and are a part of everyday life have a different value altogether.
However, those two worlds were interconnected and had a direct effect on each other. There was a direct correlation between those two realms, worlds, and realities. What I saw was the suffering of the human soul in its purest form. In its naked truth.
Not hidden by the subconscious mind . . . or a mask, or a pretend, or a routine of daily life. In life, perhaps in which we are dead inside for such a long time, without anyone taking a note. What I saw was a life of souls who were walking across the Desert of Death just like me. Many of those souls had been stuck there for a very long time.
Once I understood these things, I had to address two questions:
1. Why did I feel like I was a part of a leper colony?
2. Is there a way out of the Desert of Death?
Once again, with time, it became clear to me that those people were not actually affected by leprosy. The feeling that their soul had leprosy was a projection from the physical reality from which they came. Their communities, and the people around them, pushed them away one way or another . . . and looked down on them. Left them unsupported and forgotten as if they had leprosy.
For example, when tragedy struck our family and our son, some of the people started to talk to me as if I had some sort of contagious illness . . . and eventually they left. Or right away, without showing up at all.
Some people started to call and talk to me in a weird way. Some simply just never again called me. Some, while speaking with me, were so indifferent that it was chilling. Some manipulated me and my husband; they stole money from us and lied to us by taking advantage of our emotional vulnerabilities and breaching our trust.
Story after story after story after story . . . I can write a whole book just on that one subject only. This is what I can tell you for sure: we truly do not know who is next to us or around us until something drastic takes place.
So here is my warning to you: your social connections will change and will shift. Get ready! How? Let them all go. Don’t focus on their ill behavior—do not make it worse. You have so much pain already. What helped me is the reminder of my son who told me very clearly, “It does not matter how many people love us. What truly counts is how many we love.”
We are only responsible for our own deeds and actions. Put your focus there. Their inability to support you, nurture you, and be kind to you, in truth, has nothing to do with you, but rather with their inability to love, care, and be kind. That is their limitation, not yours! You will be able to read about it in my entries.
However, I m fully aware that it is much easier to say than do. I had my share (a huge share) of unnecessary pains. Logically I knew everything; emotionally it’s a different story. The manner in which people started to treat me, us . . . made me feel as if I had leprosy.
They lacked both compassion and the skills to deal with people who are suffering. Most of them, however, chose not to learn those skills, which sent a clear message that they did not care about me.
That wounds the soul . . .
The excuse sounds something like this: “But I don’t know how to be around people in pain . . . or what to say to them.” However, it is not a valid excuse. It’s simply an explanation and justification for their emotional laziness in not wanting to be a part of any supportive behavior.
There are plenty of books, articles, and all kinds of information available right now on how to support a deeply grieving friend or acquaintance. With just 5–15 minutes of Google research, anyone who truly cares about someone else’s griefcan become an “expert” in being next to people who are profoundly hurting emotionally. That’s my take.The society and culture in which we are living now will spend hours and hours of thinking or talking about Fifty Shades of Grey or something else of that nature, but they would not take five minutes to learn how to comfort someone who is dealing with one major shade of grief—total darkness! As if Death is a forbidden subject in our society and culture. And not knowing “how to talk and what to say” is their best defense?
Here is what I have to say to these people: If you don’t know what to say, then don’t talk; just show up! Be present! Be there! Be next to us! Silent presence is fine too, preferable actually. Simply show up! And not only one time! That is all that you need to know. That is the crash course in being compassionate. Just show up . . . and CARE!
That indifference (human cruelty and lack of kindness) is the most dangerous and painful thing for a soul to have to face and deal with. It pushes the soul into deeper and deeper darkness and creates more and more wounds.
With my new awareness, I carefully listened to every conversation in order to find a hint of kindness and warmth. I began to realize that only those who also were suffering could truly understand those who suffer.
At times, I struggled to find ANY compassion around me. I felt like a starving cave woman who had to dig into the frozen ground looking for roots and seeds to eat. Any words or actions, either spoken or taken in a cold and ignorant way, bruised me, wounded me. The protection that I once had against “idiots” was gone. The pain that was coming from inside was too strong; it blew away all my defense mechanisms.
Nothing worked anymore. I became one large open wound. I felt helpless and unprotected against the cruelty of the outside world. It was more than I could handle. I felt as if I were being electrocuted over and over again.
I had people telling me that they know exactly how I felt, because they had recently lost their dog. Or that I should buy a dog, as that will make everything better. The worst was not those stupid remarks, but inconsiderate actions. Sometimes people forget that when you are on the phone with someone, we can inadvertently hear the background conversations too.
Let me put it this way: My ears were full of background comments. I could hear the true feelings and not the masked public smile carrying with it promises of care and support. With each additional wound, I realized, to preserve the strength left in me, I needed to withdraw from the physical world. So I became more present in the Desert of Death.
The masks were now off. The faces of people around us started to show their true essence. The “spring cleaning” had begun; I began to shift to this alternate reality more and more. Now, I fully understood the souls in the Desert of Death, because they were like me—no longer able to survive in their physical world that lacked kindness and compassion. They too were victimized by the darkness that dwells in our physical realm and in our ego.
Their ignorance and indifference became my worst enemy. How had I not seen it before? If the people around us are not enough to help us, then who will help us cross this Desert? I did not want to be one of those souls who got stuck in the middle of this cave for eternity.
Past visions suggested to me that this Desert of Death had a potential to become an oasis. Without a Divine presence, without my son, I would not be able to survive the cruelty of the physical world I was now all too painfully aware of.
Crossing the Desert of Death
The key to surviving in this Desert is to accept the guidance, acceptance, love, and compassion from a Divine source. That is how these two realities intertwine. I had to choose the Desert of Death . . . and then survive it.
I was fully aware that my soul was entering the winter of my life. It was slowly settling in. There was no purpose in fighting it, or rejecting it, or pretending that it didn’t exist. Or ignoring it by trying to medicate my way out. It was looking me in my eyes, daring me, challenging me, washing over me, as only winter can
I knew that too well. After all, half my life had been spent near Siberia; I knew what that meant!
Those conversations with my son, as well as many other visions and spiritual experiences that I had the privilege to be part of, became like drops of a healing elixir to me. That is why we are offering them for you to read too.
However, I did not have an immediate appreciation for, nor a clear understanding of, them . . . at least not right away. It took time to digest it all. To learn it. To start to apply it daily. That was not an easy task. Even now. Very often, I still struggle with it.
Slowly, it became clear that my mission was to cross over and to create an oasis in the Desert so someone else, just like you, might find “shade” from the terrible misperceptions of death and might have a “fresh glass of the water of hope” t drink from.
For this compelling and overarching reason, I had to master the Desert of the Shadow of Death. The Desert of Death became my lot, my home, my life, my territory, my battlefield. Strangely enough, its Shadow actually became my protection from the indifference of this physical world.
There, I slowly learned about what my son called the “New Science of Life” . . . along with a theory of Zero Degree of Deviation as the cornerstone of it all. All that knowledge was an incredible gift to me that I treasure more than I can express . . . with a full awareness of that we are never alone.
We are never left alone! And there is no end to the gifts and to the knowledge available, if (and only if) we are willing to take them and learn from them. And that is exactly what we are offering you in these pages and pages of entries—a gift.
Our only hope and wish is that all these insights and experiences, our gifts to you, will not only help you to cross the Desert but will also create a soulful connection with your child and help you to find your new “It,” your new life mission.