Tempering the Decree

[based on the Unetaneh Tokef: Teshuvah, Tefillah and Tzedakah temper the decree.]

At least once in every seven passings, as an important part of her education, she approached her console and reached into the soft velvety fabric that surrounded the globe.

In much the same way as we sit down at the piano or computer, place our fingers on the keys and pause considering what we want to express, she hesitated. Deep concentration; and a dark glow formed in the orb. She tried blankness and the glow dissipated. A smile brought a trail of luminescent bubbles.

The silken shroud-like gown covered her. Woven of film, it sensed and transmitted her minutest movements, from the way she leaned to the tensions that passed through her. Each transformation in herself she sent directly to the substance within the globe.

The globe itself rested within her reach, continuously, slowly, rotating in apparently random directions, subtly shifting so that it followed no perceptible path. Sometimes it even seemed as though it retraced trails in reverse, but this also, she knew was part of the experience. It grew as it moved. The orb gained no perceptible weight. It did not become unwieldy. She opened herself to it, contracting, but not withdrawing, to allow for its expansion.

Well practiced in the lesson, before long she felt herself, once again, inside the mass that rolled in her grasp. She was able to interact with all of what suffused the sphere, as though the fuzzy fabric was no border between what was within - and her own self. She felt the turning both inside her and beyond her.

She made a sound: "Nnnnnshshshshshmmmmmmmmmm." A point of light appeared inside the orb. It grew. "Vvvvvvvvvvdllllll." It became two. "Vvvvvvvvvvdllllll." And these formed yet more. Again and again as she filled the sphere. The lights appeared, sparkled, shown and continued to glow and grow, all on different planes and reached as though for each other. Lines lengthened, crossed, almost intersected. They extended beyond the sphere and entered her. She could identify with any of them as though they were herself.

She wondered if this time she should allow them greater freedom of movement. Not just expand the bounds of their motions, but give them emotions. How much would she allow them to feel as she shaped their development. As her presence among them extended, she found herself caring more about what would happen.

"Nnnnnshshshshshmmmmmmmmmm." New points appeared. No congestion occurred, huge expanses within the sphere remained dark. She extended their reach further. As lines approached others she noticed something she had not experienced before. Some of the lines drew close to one another. Most often they passed and continued on. A few began moving in parallel paths. She enjoyed the doubled glow. Some moved toward collision.

There! It was an emotion before a perception: two lights met each other straight on and cancelled each other out. The entire field of light diminished by two. The movement of all the other strands staggered.

She felt a hardness inside herself and the motion within the sphere slowed. Those that were close, one to another, withdrew. Then she noticed that some weakened as they reached further to maintain closeness as though they possessed a desire she had not imparted. They stretched.

She withdrew. Suddenly the entire globe went dark.

David pressed the "End" button.

She hesitated.

David had given her program a great deal of latitude. The lessons he was working on dealt with developing choices, and anticipating the various possible outcomes because he had enabled those choices. As an honors task he had worked on the especially difficult script of shaping emotion. Since he had created her, he knew all of what she could do, yet, he had formed in her a certain openness, an ability to affect her own script. His instructors had offered him a couple of options. He could build randomness into her. Or, he could offer her tools to evaluate the choices she would encounter.

When she received the "End" message from David, she understood what she had caused through her withdrawal. She did not know his name, or even what David was, but she knew that, somehow, just as the lights she had created depended on her, she depended on him.

She had been at this turning point before. She knew that she had only a moment to transform herself and continue or be put away, as she had done to her lights. Reaching deep inside, she searched for warmth. She looked for where she was accountable, what she had done that brought her abrupt response of withdrawal. She understood that she had been given the ability to both form light and create the darkness.

David's program asked if he wanted to Save, Discard the session or Cancel the "End" command.

She turned, returned, refocused.

She carefully examined herself, and weighed her actions, considering how she had responded, what she had done.

And then she drew from whatever strength remained in her and struggled, stretched, reached for the concentration she knew at the outset.

He recalled that his teachers had indicated that the longer the program was able to run, the higher score he would receive. He decided to continue the program to see what would happen next and cancelled the "End".

She had found her error.

That moment when the two lights had met and cancelled. She had permitted it to occur, yet had hardend herself to what she had done.

The lesson she learned was somehow sensed by David.

She felt a new flow of energy and sounded out: "nshm, shmn, mnsh; nshm, shmn, mnsh." new lights of all kinds appeared inside her globe. They cascaded, spilling forth through the darkness. They splashed against and through each other creating new unanticipated patterns. She enjoyed the display.

David turned to Karen who was at work on her own project. "You should see the light show I got started here."


©Mark Hurvitz