An Easter Offering by Stephen Halpert

An Easter Offering by Stephen Halpert

An Easter Offering by Stephen Halpert

It was shortly before Easter when we received the letter on fancy stationery. I read through it and smiled. “It’s certainly nice to feel recognized.” I waved the hand lettered document at Tasha. She was at her computer working on her weekly newspaper column. She turned toward me.

“Good news?” she asked.

“Even better.” I felt a warm surge of pride. “We’ve been chosen.”

She set aside several papers. “For what? To read at a new open mic?”

“Better than that! The Prelate of this monastery would like us to provide a good and loving home to a Karmabarka

She looked puzzled. “A sacred statue of an Eastern deity? It sounds somewhat Hindu or Buddhist.”

“Close.” I waved the sheets of creamy handmade paper inscribed with deep blue calligraphy. “Says here that it is sacred to the holiest of monks in temples throughout an obscure principality in the Himalayas. Apparently, the constant threats of earthquakes and global warming have caused the priests to seek loving homes for them throughout the West.”

“Admirable,” she said.

“And what’s special is that we’ve been chosen by a blue-ribbon panel from the United Nations to welcome a Karmabarka into our home.”

She smiled appreciatively. “We could move one of the statues into storage to make room for it.

“It’s not a statue; a Karmabarka is a holy temple dog that fits in the palm of a priest’s hand or sits in a special handmade shoulder harness.”

She looked at me and shook her head. “What for?”

I smiled and showed her the brochure with its pictures. “Apparently when it barks it dispels negative karma. As far back as the dawn of time they were used to protect temples from thieving rambunctious monkeys.”

She took a sharp breath. “A dog! This entire conversation is about our getting a dog? Didn’t we decide against that?”

“Yes, but Tasha, this isn’t just any dog.” I held out the impressive invitation and pointed to the color photographs in the brochure. “From what I gather it’s a very special creature, an ascended master spending a lifetime in the body of a dog. And that’s very different. Not only does a Karmabarka chant, it will mediate with us.”

Her eyebrows rose. “Chant?”

I looked at the letter, cleared my throat and shared the mantra. “Barka Karma, Barka Karma, Karma Barka Karma Ka. Karma Karma Barka Barka Karma Barka Karma ka…”

“Are you sure? That melody sounded to me like the Ode to Joy chorus from Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.”

“Chant is universal,” I equivocated. “But just think! A little palm sized friend who will sit with us when we mediate.” I showed the dog’s picture to her.

She made a face. “It looks like a baby squirrel without any fur.”

“And we won’t even have to buy dog food. Each month they’ll ship us their special formula of hybrid peas mixed with dehydrated green tea. All we have to do is add water.”

“Let me see this.” She snatched the invitation and perused it. Her eyes widened. Moments later she shook her head and gave me her there’s one born every minute look. “It says here that this dog costs $8900, plus shipping.”

I shrugged. “You know that pedigrees are pricey. That’s part of their exclusivity. But that price includes its own hand-woven temple robe, shoulder harness and special incense. Apparently to be happy they need to smell this familiar scent.”

Her face was stony: “I don’t think so.”

“Keep reading,” I tried. “A pair would only run us $16,000. We’d probably pay way more than that for any pair of expensive miniature breeds exhibited at those exclusive dog shows. Then of course with a pair, in time they could breed.”

The look she gave me would wilt seedlings.

“But at least think about it and don’t jump to any hasty conclusions.”

“For $16,000. we could afford several first-class European river cruises.” She wrinkled her nose. “Besides I don’t like its looks.”

“But it’s holy. Granted it doesn’t look like Lassie but it doesn’t shed either.”

“How could it? It has no hair.” She stood up and put her hands on her hips. “I know you’d like us to have a dog or at least you think you would until we got one. And then guess what? Your dog would become my responsibility.”

I shook my head.

“Would you take it out for walks when it’s raining? Besides it looks like it’s got pinkeye.”

“I think that’s a significant characteristic of the breed. Judges probably look for that at shows. But wouldn’t it be fun to have a buddy to meditate with?”

“You could always invite in one of the neighbors.”

“None of our neighbors chant.”

“Neither do we.”

“But what’s important is they only bark when they sense impurities within a person’s aura. That will protect us by keeping anyone with negativity from our home.”

“And I suppose you’d expect me to walk it. I’d look like I was walking some kind of wrinkled, deformed rat.”

“Tasha you know perfectly well that appearances aren’t everything. Don’t forget that in truth you’d be walking an ascended master.”

She took a sniff of the sample incense included with the invitation and wrinkled her nose. “It smells worse than dirty feet that haven’t been washed in weeks.”

“Ok, I hear you. I give up. But we might be missing out on an incredible opportunity. I thought with Easter coming it would be a perfect time for us to make an appropriate spiritual offering to each other.”

She folded her arms. “At Easter we order rum balls and jelly beans.”

Reluctantly I gathered the paperwork and photographs and put them into the recycling.

In the distance I thought I heard the faint sound of mournful barking.

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Stephen Halpert is a sponsoring member of Patty’s Worlds.

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A graduate of Emerson College, Stephen Halpert has been a published author since the 1970s. Most recently, his weekly column “American Scene,” which ran in The Grafton News from 1989 to 2022, featured humorous vignettes of his life with his wife, Tasha, and serial fiction. Since 2020, Halpert has authored a trilogy, The Loves of Gilberto, which he describes as, “a love story with a hint of murder.” In 2018, Halpert published his first collection of fictional tales, Abracadabra Moonshine and Other Stories, available on Amazon. His next writing venture is titled “Mona Lisa’s Eyebrows and other stories.” Contact  Stephen at:


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