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5.3. Yahweh, vigilance and gravity

Alma was now sitting on the sofa, sneaking up next to me in a way that was again apt to arouse my fear for intimacy had it not been that she did not heed my thoughts about mattresses and peas. They passed right through her.

She had been lying in her mother's womb with another human being. Sitting like this, close to me, was the most natural thing of all. Now she put her head against my shoulder. I tousled her hair uncertainly. The earlobes, perhaps. The incredibly soft ear flaps.

«What have you done today?» I asked.

«I have been to the Faculty of Theology at the university!»


Exactly what I did not expect.

The church …

«There was a professor today who talked about the Jews' name on God,» she explained.


«Did you know that the correct thing is to write YHWH?» Alma continued.

«YHWH? No, I have not heard that before.»

«The word should not and can not be pronounced, the Jews believe. It is just a breath.»

She filled her lungs with air, generously invited her stomach to the experiment and let out a hiss.

I had to smile.

It certainly did not turn out quite as she had intended, for she tried again and again.

«I try to say YHWH without making a sound,» she said enthusiastically.

She was having fun.

Then she made it much quieter.

The hissing subsided, and she had almost grasped it after half a minute.

«One should not say the name of God, and he who sees the face of God can not live», she continued.

She looked at me inquisitively to see if I might know better and would arrest her.

There was no danger.

Then she changed the theme.

I do not think Alma ever was very religious. Not church-religious. It's certainly not certain she went that long on theology either; I do not know.

It is difficult to imagine her sitting in a large hall with sweaty priests-to-be, writing an exam paper about YHWH, with or without vocals and hissing.

«YHWH is pure varhet,» she said.

«What did you say it is,» you said?


«I believe in varhet.»

» Varhet?»

«Yes, varhet.»

Before we continue the story about Alma, I must explain the meaning of the Norwegian word «varhet».

In English, there are several synonyms: Awareness, watchfulness, presence, carefulness, sensitiveness, mindfulness, wakefulness, alertness, attention, vigilance.

None of these words captures the full depth.

Vàr is an old Norse word meaning alert, conscious, vigilant, sensitive to the slightest change.

A wolf is vàr.

Varhet is active being, a creative, sensory state. There is no content. And also no subject. It's a state and an activity. Both.

You, in a way, are pure varhet.

I am pure varhet, and I have discovered it.

It is what I am, beyond me, beyond the I. The essence.

Of everything.

You will not find that last explanation about varhet being «the essence of everything» in the dictionary.

Somehow Alma conveyed it – with hisses and giggles, without words.

YHWH is varhet.

«Yes, varhet», Alma said.

She was serious now.

The slight giggle that had disturbed the communication of God's unmentionable name was driven away.

She was quiet, and she looked at me.

«Varhet is a word that not many people understand. It is old,» she said.

«Yes, not many people use it today,» I replied.

She said «varhet» … slowly and sadly as her body leaned heavier towards mine.

«That's a good word,» I said.

«Yes,» she said.

This one word was the seed.

The seed in my awakening.

I was the flowerpot, full of rich, moist soil. Ready, but dark and unrealised, dormant.

She planted the seed, and I was never the same again.

It was going to take time; seeds do not flower overnight.

It took almost thirty years.

She had named the essence of my existence. The hypersensitive and intuitive vigilance in me that protects me from dangers. But also the core of everyone else's existence, for none of us is anything other than this, varhet, presence, without content.

She showed me the essence of everything.

But I was blind at the time.

I did not know at that point I had been seriously injured in childhood.

My alertness became visible to me early in life because I had to increase it to maximum strength.

But I did not know that. To me, it seemed normal.

What had made Alma so vigilant – vàr?

Was it established an automatic behaviour in her, as in me?

Was she even aware of her unique sensitivity and her amazing ability to see?

Is she aware of that today?

I reconstruct the dialogue from a faint memory, but that's how it was.

Alma stood in front of me and said that she, too, knows this sickest, but at the same time, healthiest form of presence. She, too, is a wolf, a stray animal outside of human society.

That is how I look at it in retrospect.

The word «varhet» stems from a time long before the Christian church came up with its somewhat ambiguous terminology and use of symbols. The word varhet is religiously neutral and describes a state that can be studied scientifically, as well as esoterically and subjectively.

Alma's words struck precisely this most vulnerable and hurting core in me, that which had made me an opponent of all dogmatic ecclesiastical. That which I already knew in a direct, absolute way, without any analytical reasoning.