“Cherish life!”, “Cherish life!”, “Cherish life!” These were the words that echoed inside me as I found myself meditating, gazing at a beautiful Oak tree1 a few meters from my house. I had never meditated before this moment.
“Cherish life!”, were the words that gave me the most profound answer to the proposal I received from the doctor earlier that day. The doctor was concerned, she said that something was very wrong with my baby and suggested that I should do an abortion. This was two weeks prior to my son’s birth.
I was 32 at the time. Two months earlier I returned to Israel after 10 years of living, working and studying in New York and Milan. I was a young exhibition designer, a graduate with Honors from Parsons School of Design, holding a beautiful portfolio of my furniture and exhibition designs. “Cherish life” was still echoing in my head. I wanted to give birth to my son! And if he had an illness like the doctor implied, I wanted to get the tools to help him heal, become healthy and have a good fulfilling life, this was what I wanted. I wanted to help him to live the best life he can. I didn’t know exactly how I would do this. But I had a very strong why – to cherish life.
What does cherish my son’s life mean? What kind of life will he have? I asked myself. It would be wonderful, I thought, if I understood how to do this. If only I knew how to create the right conditions, how to stay happy and healthy regardless of what life throws at me, then I will be able to help my son live a full life.
I had absolutely no clue as to where I should start, all I knew were these words repeating in my head as if someone was talking to me, saying: “Cherish life!”.
1Thirteen years later I called this meditation, “the tree meditation” and use in my sessions and workshops.
The Dream on the night my son was born
Two weeks later I had a dream. In the dream I heard a noise in the hallway of my home, so I walked to the entrance door. The door opened and a stranger walked in, he stopped and stood there in front of me. To my surprise, I was not scared. The man’s face was incredibly peaceful. I knew he did not come to harm me.
“Are you lost? do you need something? A glass of water?” I asked the man. He was taller than me, but not by much, he had short silver hair. His body was slim yet strong. He seemed to be older than me by around fifteen years or so. I felt very calm. He nodded his head, as if to say, no I am not lost, I have come to the right place. He lifted his right hand and rested it ever so softly on his chest. He bowed his head slightly as if to say: I apologize if I startled you and came uninvited. “I am not startled” I answered, “but if you are not lost, why did you come?”.
My mind was racing with questions, but strangely my body was completely relaxed. We were only one meter away from each other. He was now facing forward looking straight into my eyes. His eyes were light blue. Such beautiful eyes, I thought to myself, there is so much PEACE in them. Peace I had not seen before in anyone’s eyes. This peace was so vivid and distinct in contrast to the turbulence I was experiencing in my life. In contrast to all the stress, all the running around and worrying, these eyes were like a safe harbor on a stormy night, calling out, like a light house sending a beacon to the ships at sea, showing them the way back home.
And so, I stood there with my feet firmly on the ground and looked straight ahead, back into the man’s eyes, waiting for his answer.
“Everything will be all right” his words were very clear and sharp, cutting all illusions of uncertainty. I understood. He came to give me an encouraging message. To give me strength I needed to help my son to live. “Yes, I know this. But how?…”
At that very moment I woke up, it was around 5:00 in the morning, my water broke, and I rushed to the hospital to give birth to my son.
For the next 6 months since that day, through all the challenges and life-threatening situations my son faced, I returned to that dream to get strength.
I didn’t know who the man in my dream was. But about three years later, I attended a retreat in San Biagio, not far from Assisi. And as I walked into the reception area to get the keys to my room, there he was, greeting me: “Benvenuti!”(welcome in Italian).