View by:  Subject  Theme  Question  Term  Person  Event

Bosches del Apache

We read in Exodus 25:20 of the ark of the Covenant. It is to be made of acacia wood overlaid with gold and carried by two long poles. And on top of this box containing the tables of the law are to be placed two gold cherubim whose “...wings are spread out above, shielding the cover [of the ark] with their wings.” These winged angels come up again in Ezekiel 1:24 and 10:14.

The prophet has a psychedelic vision of God on a chariot that’s borne by an eagle, a cherub, a lion and a human being. Each creature had four wings. Ezekiel says: “...[it was] like the noise of great waters, I heard the noise of their wings, like the voice of the Almighty...”

I am standing in the middle of the New Mexico desert last winter. It is thirty degrees and a half-hour before dawn. We are in the Bosches del Apache, the forest of the Apache, a bird sanctuary.

I am not a big time naturalist but my wife is an avid birder. And so, like spouses do, I tag along.

“For this one,” teeth chattering, while sipping coffee from the thermos, I whisper, “I want extra points.”

She smiles.

In the distance, the horizon is becoming visible now as dark ribbon of deep red in the winter chill. And dawn comes. The whole sky explodes into bright orange.

And then, within the next fifteen minutes, we watch in awe-struck silence, as 25,000 snow geese, cranes, great blue herons and God only knows who else, awake from their sleeping on the water and fly off for the next leg of their migration.

They are so close and there are so many of them, I can literally feel the flapping wing-flung wind on my face. The park rangers call it, “the flyaway.” Last evening they warned: You’re never the same after the flyaway. And I understand: Somehow, simply being present to experience this event changes your perception of what it means to be a creature.

And here’s the thing chastens and humbles me: The birds do this all the time. Whether we’re there to watch them or not, they land in the waters of the Bosches and come first light, they flyaway into the dawn’s early light, a skyfull of wings and beaks and feathers on their way to somewhere else. And they do it year after year after year. Just like the great whales do it through the waters of the sea and mitochondria do it through the fluid within our cells. Great flowing streams of life, currents of protoplasm - flying, swimming, running, moving, flowing, praying - doing what they know how to do - doing the only thing they know to do - doing what they were “meant” to be doing, doing what they're “supposed” to do. While I, in my ignorance - obsessed with completing some writing assignment - am doing what I'm supposed to be doing, what I am meant to do. All these creatures, moving on their ways, going about their business, like traffic on an expressway interchange at rush hour, one orchestrated flow of life. My God, I can still feel the wind of their wings on my face.

Probably the holiest ritual moment in ancient Judaism was on the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, when the high priest entered the holy of holies in the temple in Jerusalem. He only had one thing to do. He had rehearsed it for months. He had to pronounce one word: The ineffable Name of God. The Name made only of vowel letters. The Name made from the root letters of the Hebrew verb to be. A Name that probably initially meant something like, “The One who brings into being all that is.”

And the room in which he would speak this Name was so sacred that if, God forbid, he should drop dead of a heart attack once inside, no one else would be able to go back in there to retrieve his corpse!

Rabbi Isaac explained in the Zohar,III Zohar 102a.that they solved the problem by simply tying a rope abound his leg. Rabbi Judah further said that when the priest entered, even he closed his eyes - so as not to gaze where it was forbidden to gaze. But, as they sang their praises, he was able to hear the sound of the cherubim’s wings...

Contributed by: Rabbi Lawrence Kushner

Cosmic Questions

Was the Universe Designed? Topic Index
Nothing by Design: A Neo-Kabbalistic Perspective

Bosches del Apache

Hidden Signature
Virtual Reality
Reading Music
Drops in the Ocean
Anacortes Ferry


Lawrence Kushner

Related Media:

Did the Universe Have a Beginning?
Was the Universe Designed?
Are we Alone?
Hubble Deep Field Animation
Interview Index
  Media Index

Other Resources:

Glossary Terms
Bonus Material Home...