I didn't open up the shades the first thing this morning like I usually do. I sat there on the small sofa in front of the window contemplating the light as it seeped into the room through the gaps in the blinds. Light is funny. It can enter into a room via a series of small horizontal stripes, but it instantly diffuses and permeates the darkness much in the same way that a teaspoon of sugar dipped into a glass of water would do. You could use three grains of sugar or a cup and all the water contained in the glass would contain the same amount.
I've been thinking more about Jesus lately, and I have to admit that is something I don't usually do. I have his picture tucked neatly into the corner of the frame of my dad's picture. They are both looking at me as now as I think. The picture of my dad was taken right before he died when everything outside of his immediate wishes was first considered as a threat. I use it to remind me to suck it up, and by it I mean life's more painful lessons.
Here's the thing about Jesus. There's always a part to his story that seems to point an accusatory finger. Dying on the cross for the sins of others sets a pretty high bar, and one that most of us walk under every day. I've been intensely aware of my failures as a high jumper all of my life, and it's caused me a lot of problems.
It didn't help things that I first came face to face with Jesus in a small Baptist church that didn't offer much in the way of training when it came to Sunday School teachers. I've written about the incident a lot in my blog. A lot of times, when writing, I create characters and stories whole cloth using tiny bits of memory and reality to fashion the design. The story I tell about being told when I was ten years old that I would burn in Hell if I didn't accept Jesus on the spot is something I never ran through any filter. I remember it that well.
It seems to me, that my church used the Cliff Notes version of the Bible, and even then didn't place a lot of emphasis on chapter summaries, it was pretty much the timeline repeated over and over. That made me look at Jesus as if he were a fifth or sixth cousin who only visited one time with another relative that us kids didn't even know.
Mom scolded us, of course, before he showed up and warned us about playing nice. But he was shy in our presence and never said a word; it was the fact that they had dressed him up in the clothes of Little Lord Fauntleroy that made us think of him as a sissy boy and a snitch. I guess, that, at the time, the part about the nails through the palm and the scourging hadn't sunk in, and it was only the part where people kept pointing out that he was so much better than us that caught my attention.
With my dad, it was different story. One day, two guys came into the yard with the intention of beating me up. I ran into our back porch when I opened the back door thinking I had reached safety, my dad was standing there with a belt. He answered the question I was formulating before I even asked it, whipping me one time hard across my butt while saying the words, "Stand and fight," through clenched teeth.
I've always carried the welt but not on my ass. Its somewhere deep inside of me where I've tried to hide it from the view of others. I knew at a tender age what Abel felt when he brought forth the fruit that was spurned. Our fathers are our God when we are only boys. I disappointed him by trying to use rhetoric and logic when a sacrifice of pain was required. He didn't punish me, so much as tell me, "Son, life will be full of pain and if you run at the first sight of snakes, you'll only make things a damn sight harder."
My brother and I watched a movie the other night. It had some blue-eyed European dude in it playing Jesus. The movie for all its pretended glamor and Hollywood trappings looked pretty cheesy. But beneath all that, the power of the story couldn't be restrained. It's a powerful story, the most powerful myth of all, and I use the word myth with its truthful meaning, "Extraordinary events that shake humans to their very core."
The word doesn't mean, as a lot of imaginary spiritual leaders think, something that is not historical or real. On the contrary, it is the underlying reality of the whole shebang, the source of the cause and effect and not the result, and it's a thing much too large to for us to ever understand completely, or, at least not, without the commensurate expansion of consciousness that comes with knowing the truth, the breaking of old jars.
The picture I have is just as phony as the actor in the film, but there is something truthful about the sadness in the eyes. Jesus was never accusatory, or at least, not till he discovered the people selling their goods in the Temple. And he knew well that most of us were more like the turtle in the race with the fox than Dwight Stones.
For years, I thought that the scar on my right hand where my Mom accidentally dropped a hot iron while she was doing my shirts was my only similarity to Jesus. He always said though that he lives inside us all and is always standing there ringing the doorbell, dressed in his Sunday gotomeeting robes, and with a nice bottle of newly vinted wine tucked beneath his arm.
And if anything good comes out of this craziness we're going through now, it might be that we get so sick of tired the fools arguing, the clowns singing and dancing, and hearing the braying efforts of all the unscrupulous sellers trying to breech our temple walls, that we turn our TVs off long enough to answer the damn door.