Erica's Flower Garden
possible for a gardener to embrace but one single flower in a vast
garden and close his eyes to all the rest of the profusion of life?
has been said that space is the final frontier for humanity to explore. I
would like to disagree and propose that the final frontier is the Principle
of Universal Love. We have reached into space. We have achieved what no
other form of life that we know has accomplished,- to leave the Earth and
return to it. Nevertheless, we still hate and steal from each other and make
wars and kill human beings in countless different ways. We can reach to the
distant planets and have explored many in detail, while we have not yet
discovered how to reach securely across a table heart to heart. This
frontier still lies before us to be explored, with wonders yet to be
discovered. Their dimensions also promise to be infinitely more beautiful
than the grandest forms in the emptiness of space.
story, Erica's Flower Garden, was created many years ago. It
unfolds as a kaleidoscope of discoveries of love shining through as a
universal principle. Sadly, we've been trained by religions and countless
teachers to trash the Principle of Universal Love as if it was a great evil,
whereby we have narrowed our life and its joys. Shouldn't our life be rather
like that of a dancing snowflake that even in its crystalline state, small
as it may be, is exquisite in its symmetry and intricacy and geometry? And
much more than that, shouldn't our life be like a symphony of living in a
vast flower garden? That's what the human potential holds in store for us.
Oh, but how to open our eyes? Of course, the first step is always the
story presented here is made up of two chapters of the novel, Discovering
Love, the first episode of my series of novels, The Lodging
for the Rose.
Searching for Ursula Fleischer at the beach, with little to go by, may have been frustrating in terms of the mission, but in real terms, it wasn't a total waste of time. In fact, it became rather interesting later that day.
One of the women shook her head and said that she was sorry for having to disappoint me, "I am not Ursula Fleischer," she said in near perfect English, "though I wish I was," she added.
"How did you know I speak English?" I asked.
She pointed at the book in my hand.
"My name is Peter," I introduced myself. "I am supposed to meet someone here by the name of Ursula Fleischer, someone I have never met before."
"Ah, a blind date, is it?" she asked with a grin.
"No, it is not exactly a date," I replied and paused for a moment. "As a matter of fact, I am not even sure that she is here. Also, she won't know that I am looking for her."
I wasn't quite sure if what I said made sense. She was a fascinating woman to look at, which meant that everything else became secondary. There was something wonderful in the way she smiled. She said something about wanting to help me. She asked me to describe the person I was looking for.
"Someone tall," I said, "slender, with hair almost red, and breasts not too big." I explained to her that this was the way the man at the Rathaus had described her.
"The description fits me perfectly," she said, "but it is also quite broad."
"Yes, it fits quite a few other people," I added.
"Is this your first time here?" she asked while she scanned the shore. "By the way, my name is Erica," she added, "I come here often."
"I am from Pittsburgh, I came here yesterday for the first time," I replied mechanically. All this seemed unimportant at the moment. I couldn't help looking at her, drinking in her warm smile and her graceful, beautiful, female shape. "I wish you were Ursula Fleischer," I added, and began to grin now, too.
"You wouldn't say that if your wife was here," she replied, and smiled even more now, "but I love you for saying it."
"Ah, but how did you know that I am married?" I asked.
"You told me."
"Me? I never mentioned anything like that."
"You told me with your eyes. The way you are fascinated by me seems to indicate that you have been a happily married man for a dozen or more years and have never laid eyes on another woman for all that time. You're like someone who has been locked up in prison for a long time, and I am the first person to come your way."
"No, Erica, you are the most beautiful person here, that's why. And yes, I have been married for thirteen years. My wife's name is Sylvia."
"Would she be shocked if she saw us here?" she asked.
I nodded silently.
"But why should she be, Peter?"
"I think she would feel dishonored by it," I said, "or cheated. The concept of marital fidelity is such a convoluted one. It can cause so much pain when it is perceived to be violated. However, even the best husband is still a human being, with human needs, like any other man. Forgive me please for being human, for staring at you. You are right. You fascinate me. You are a woman. Perhaps I shouldn't be looking at you, but to be honest, I am deeply affected by your presence. It feels wonderful to look at someone as beautifully female in every respect, as you are. I hope you're not offended."
She shook her head, "Why don't we sit down? Let's talk for a while. I will tell you how Kolkwitzer Lake came to be."
"Are you sure?" I asked, "I must warn you, I may not be able to take my eyes off you."
She replied with a beaming smile. "I am honored by your desire to look at me," she said.
"Oh?" I said.
"If you were an artist," she said, "wouldn't I model for you? I would be honored if you would choose me. You would create a painting that would capture the very essence of me. It would tour all the great galleries of the world, and people would come and be moved by what they saw. This would honor me. So, why should I feel less honored that you want to look at me just for being myself?"
I didn't know what to reply to this. I simply nodded. I invited her to sit down on my blanket. We were facing each other and smiled. She asked whether I had been to Sunday School as a child, and if so, if I remembered some of it? She said she remembered a parable by Christ Jesus that had stayed in her mind all these years. The story was about inheriting a kingdom. The king addressed himself to two groups, one on his right side, and one to his left. He praised those on the right and said that they would inherit the kingdom. Then he gave his reasons, addressing those selected. Erica explained that the king's reasons were profound. "I was hungry, and you gave me meat; I was thirsty, and you gave me drink; I was a stranger, and you took me in; I was naked, and you clothed me; I was sick, and you visited me; I was in prison, and you came to me." She asked me if I could remember that story.
I nodded. I replied, that as I recalled the story, the selected people said to the king that they never did such a thing. "When did we ever see you hungry, or thirsty, naked, sick, in prison, or as a stranger?"
"Yes," said Erica, "but the king replied that they did these things to him indeed, in as much as they had done them to the least person in his kingdom. Then he condemned those others who were not selected, because they had not done so." Erica added that the story presents a principle, or law, that is rarely recognized, because it goes so totally against the grain of the world's conventions.
She paused for a moment. "If only more people would realize that the law is easily fulfilled," she added, "and how richly rewarding it can be." Then she began to laugh, "All that I have to do to fulfill the law, is to be myself. Nothing more is required, and look it makes you so happy and I feel richer and more precious at the same time. That's why I said to you that I am
honored. I really am. Something beautiful is going on between us, don't you agree that this is so?"
I would have dared for a kiss, but then she started to talk about the history of the lake where the beach was located. She said that the lake was artificially created by flooding a depleted open pit brown-coal mine. "It has become a resource for the soul now," she commented.
We talked about many things that afternoon, about Ursula Fleischer, my diplomatic mission, Pittsburgh, my marriage. She said that she was married, too, and that her husband was away on an out of town assignment. Then we talked about the meaning of fidelity, and whether our being together at the beach might be considered a breach of trust, a loss of fidelity. We decided that it wasn't. She asked me to consider what Sylvia and I had sworn to each other at our marriage ceremony: "to love, to respect, to
honor, and to support one-another. At least that's what I and Fritz have sworn to each other," she added. "So we never swore that we would not look at another man or woman as a sexual being for the remainder of our life, right? This means that there is room in our marriage agreements to also fulfill the divine demand, which is a demand on each one of us to help meet the human need in whatever form it may exist."
From the social science and religious fiction novel by Rolf A. F. Witzsche
Volume 1of the 12-volume series, The Lodging for the Rose
Chapter 3 - Erica's Flower Garden