In Celebration

He was sometimes known by the name Rapha Olam. No one knew when he was born. No one knew where he was born. What is known, is that he leaves with us a mark of timeless remembrance which no one will ever be able to match.

Those who recall his early days speak of him being exceptionally idealistic; others saw him as far too naïve. He unconditionally accepted  that everyone could be a perfect human being and could exist in a state of absolute harmony. With time his optimism shifted. As many young men, he joined the military. Occasional letters were received by friends from such places as the Middle East, Africa, Greece, Italy, Spain, Eastern Europe and later America.

Some decided the military was a means for him to explore the world. Others felt that he was fighting for just causes. Still others dismissed his escapades; he was merely a mercenary soldier having no loyalty to anyone. Years later, when he was reported to have been released from Guantanamo Bay detention camp, chronicles about him altered, yet again.

Supportive friends passed on his letters. This time he was establishing communes in various parts of the world. He had the uncanny faculty to befriend all manner of individuals, regardless from what culture, swaying them to his way of thinking. Once more, he seemed to revert to his youthful convictions of universal serenity. But ‒ there seemed to be a frantic edge to his methods. Nevertheless, his skillful abilities and inherent gifts enabled some communes to flourish as well as proliferate. Even theological articles embarked on endorsing his remarkable approaches. Not everyone, however, was on side. Serious allegations about him surfaced from a number of scholarly circles: he was either smeared as a two spirited homosexual, or he was scorned for being of the transgender persuasion, in either case mesmerizing the masses.

Some friends were disturbed that he didn’t deny their accusations. Most loyal friends, on the other hand, didn’t care and ignored the bad press. They were aware that he had never married. Through some of his communications, they knew he had had affairs. Likely many. A number of women came forward to acknowledge his progenies. One legal certificate was produced which identified him as the father of a son. He owned up to that. Sadly, too late! This discovery document was only unearthed after the son had been brutally murdered by thugs. Olam was photographed at the funeral service, standing beside the tiny woman whom he barely recollected. Head bent low, he mourned the son he lost ‒ without knowing what he was about.

The final blow came when Time Magazine’s leading article questioned whether it was he, rather than his son who had died. Eventually, a close friend was delighted to receive his post card with only the sardonic caption: To quote Mark Twain, “The report of my death was an exaggeration.”

After that, only a few sightings of him were recorded by friends. He was traveling again, this time to help at major catastrophes. He was seen at the Twin Towers, moving debris to pull out bodies from under the rubble. Later, there were photos of him in Sumatra following the tsunami. Then, back in the US, he helped with the victims surviving hurricane Katrina. And, he was last sighted in Haiti, after their earthquake.

Those letters from him were brief, but heart wrenching. It was as though he couldn’t understand and certainly couldn’t accept why these disasters continued to occur. But more so, his words were agonizing descriptions of the cataclysmic events, as though he somehow was responsible for them – yet helpless to prevent them.

Then he simply disappeared. With no trace left of him, declarations of his death again arose. We ‒ his friends ‒ do not accept this! Therefore, we are holding a commemorative celebration to honour the existence of Rapha Olam, at All Faiths gathering place. Tell everyone to come and bring all messages you have received from our long time Friend. We leave you with his words, by which he concluded each of his correspondence: “I AM – with you.”

Katalin Kennedy

April 2017

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