Friday, September 25, 2015

The Man at the Religious Fair

The first time I met him, it was a glorious Sunday morning at a little church nestled in a beautiful valley in the middle of the countryside.  He was the last person I would ever expect to see, especially in the flesh in today’s day and time.  I’m still not sure if I really met him or if it was all just a dream, but it was so real and the message so powerful that it didn’t really matter if it truly happened or not. 

The second time he came into my life was when I was attending a religious fair at a university.  It was an interesting fair in that not only did they have countless booths representing the many religions and belief systems, but people were also dressing up as characters from their Bibles and Holy Scriptures. 

While I was at a booth looking at some literature, I felt a tap on my shoulder behind me.  You can imagine my surprise when I found a man dressed just like Jesus!  But something about his eyes looked so familiar.  Then it dawned on me.  It was the Jesus that I met at the country church numerous years ago! 

He smiled at me which lit up his whole face and made his eyes sparkle. Without thinking, I immediately wrapped my arms around his neck and hugged him tightly while screeching, “Jesus!  What are you doing here?”  It suddenly dawned on me what all the people around us must be thinking, but I didn’t care!  It was so good to see him again in the flesh!

In that gentle voice, he replied, “Sometimes I like attending these religious fairs just to see what people are saying and to see how everyone is getting along.  It’s quite fascinating with so many religions being represented in the same place.”  I answered, “Isn’t that the truth!  I’ve been to a few of these and I’ve seen some of the arguments that people get into trying to convince each other that they’re right.” 

Jesus looked off into the distance with a look of great sadness as a tear slid quietly down his cheek.  “Yes, I know.  And that’s not what these religions are about at their heart.  All the great spiritual masters of these religions taught unconditional love for all and to not harm anyone.  It brings me great sadness to see the way people treat each other in the name of God and their spiritual leaders.”  I totally understood what he was saying and it made me sad that he was sad.  He continued, “My greatest commandment was to love one another as I loved them.  What part of love one another do they not understand?”

We stood for a moment in silence contemplating this great mystery.  Trying to lighten the moment, I added, “But Jesus!  You know that there is an awakening occurring all over the world and people are starting to get it!  They know that unconditional love for all people really is the answer!  Of course, you wouldn’t know it by our media or from what many politicians and religious leaders are saying.  The media only propagates the negative.  You know we’re out there!”  At that, Jesus smiled slightly like he knew something no one else knew.

I then asked, “Jesus, why don’t you appear more often and let people know that you’re here?  That may speed things up some!”  Sighing, he replied, “Karen, I am all over the world and I appear to everyone on this planet all the time.  I’m the homeless man on the street looking for food and shelter.  I’m the alcoholic or drug addict looking to escape life’s problems.  I’m the hungry, the poor, the sick, the abused, the migrant, the immigrant…  I’m the gang member, the convict, the lonely, the oppressed, the depressed, and the insane.  I also appear as you and everyone here.  It has nothing to do with a religion.  I’m a part of the spark of the Divine in every living being on the planet.  It doesn’t matter what religion or what one believes or what you name it.  We are all connected by the Source that created everyone and everything.  All the spiritual masters taught this by whatever name they called it.”

I then remembered the Bible verse, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”  At that moment, something distracted me and I looked away.  When I turned back, he was gone!  He did it to me again!  And again, I will never be the same.

(This story is a sequel to a previous article, “The Man at the Back of the Church.”)

Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper September 5, 2015.

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