was a good guy,
he didn’t need this shit . “
~ John Prine, “The Missing Years”
Cool, mellow, smart, insightful, compassionate, courageous, forgiving, loving, funny. (I gotta assume he had humor, before humorless historians got involved.)
Jesus was a lot of things. Forgiving, and understanding for sure. He spent his last energy asking God to forgive the thieves on the crosses next to him, and the soldiers who had mocked and tortured him, and probably everyone who let him down. Which in the end, is almost every one of us.
“They’re human. Just trying to survive. This place is tough. Trust me, Dad. “
An older woman babysat me once, and she tried imposing her religious views on me. She wanted to tuck me in with prayers, which was mortifying to a 5th grader ~ too old to be tucked in, let alone “prayed on” by some random woman. I remember she expressed concern about my afterlife, or lack thereof, if I didn’t partake. She also added something about Jesus being part man / part God, which completely freaked me out. This was right around the time of slumber parties with ouija boards, so I was already feeling doomed and terrified, and now this Man/God I was to worship. Too much for a ten year old!
That stuck with me, that half man/ half God thing, and continued to freak me out. But in my adult life, I’ve come to appreciate and develop my own quiet thoughts about what that might mean, and come a bit more to grips with it.
With examination, I found Jesus to be quite likable, and humble, by both nature and lifestyle. He certainly didn’t demand pomp and circumstance; born in a stable that undoubtedly stunk, a laborer, chose a donkey over a horse, and he cultivated peace not power. He never used his supernatural connections for self preservation, which I think is what makes him so relatable. He endured alot. And he prayed to God to be spared from becoming a “human corkscrew” as John Prine puts it, which makes him extra relatable. (We’ve all thrown out those hail Mary-please not me-prayers.
I find the ways of Jesus, his actions, and the parables he taught through, were strikingly similar to the values and morals taught by Buddha and Lao Tsu. None of the three of them asked to be, or indicated they wanted to be, worshipped. Just trusted and emulated.
They didn’t dictate how to be, but they each showed us how to be. None of them trusted formalized religion, and yet formalized religions became of all three. I now understand the Taoist tenet that the Tao ~ the Way~ must remain nameless, because once it’s named and interpreted by humans, then begins the process of misinterpretation of essential and Universal teachings and ways..
Let’s face it, Jesus’ image got hijacked into being an icon, and a bit of a nerd. I love Anne Lamott’s words on when she “found Jesus;”
“I didn’t want him to be there, when that happened. That was just mortifying for me, as a hip intellectual agnostic who really hoped to become a devotee of more Eastern religions. So when I found Jesus there, it was just really a nightmare. It was like the Mister Rogers of deities. But it’s different when I call on him [now.]”
I get all of this.
What began as a 5th grade fear of this blonde haired blue eyed Man/God has grown into a very relatable brother-type to pray with and feel understood by. Jesus’ ways of dealing with being afraid, frustrated, and misunderstood are something to emulate, especially during these days when, in some way, shape, or form, we are all feeling afraid, frustrated, and misunderstood.
So the meditation for the day is to pull back a few hundred feet from whatever faith tradition you were raised on and ponder, consider, the ways of Jesus ~especially relevant this Holy Week…
How would Jesus have handled Corona, and all its uncertainties? How might He have helped with Corona and the ensuing anxieties? And how might you?
Jesus came to show us a way, The Way, to live faithfully, confidentiality and wholeheartedly. He promised heaven. I don’t think He meant ‘worship me and you’ll go to heaven later.’ I think He meant ‘follow me in speaking the truth (assertively, gently, compassionately), live from your heart, do the right thing–despite all the bullshit–and you will feel joy, and love, and full of purpose.’ Content.
‘There will be hardship. You won’t be saved from that. (I wonder what He would’ve thought about Christian Scientists?) “Be cool, stay by my side, I’m with ya, and in the end you’ll be good.”
And that’s His promise.
“ I will deliver.
You know I’m a forgiver. “~ Johnny Cash