Here is something different for the normal Sunday Lesson…
Maybe this story rightly goes under the fiction heading, but so often now, when I read the Bible, my eyes stop on “…the word of the Lord came to me in a dream…” so I don’t know. In a way, I don’t want to know. I’m happy to live in that crack between what is real and what’s not and what might be. For you cynics and logicians, I put it under fiction as well as under the Church of the Dancing Calf. But with a question mark. Enjoy!
The peaks below us, bathed in a bragging sun, lifted high through the clouds like bent knees in bed. We floated, Jesus and I, our hands clasped behind our heads, floating on clouds and drowning in the sheer beauty of it. The ocean beneath us was clear and blue. We didn’t talk but shared a silent satisfaction.
Jesus, looking every bit a long-haired Scandinavian god like the one pinned above my Grandmother’s bed, looked at me, arching His eyebrows. Reaching into the cloud, He pulled out a leg. A human leg, apparently unused. It looked new and shiny, and muscular, and clean of any hint of blood or tissue.
“Here,” He said, holding it out to me like a drumstick, “feel it.” I took it and stroked it like I would a cat’s back. Now, awake and writing, I’m surprised at how I gushed. “My gosh,” I said, “this thing is beautiful. I mean…it’s gorgeous.” I was in a bicycle racing accident a year earlier, spending three months in the hospital with a brain injury. For the first two weeks, machines kept me alive, and I was comatose for a month. I learned to walk again, but doctors said no more bikes. No racing and no circling around the block. But I wondered: what about with a new leg?
“You can have it,” He said, waving His arm, nonplussed. “I have arms and more legs for you, too, if you want them.” He smiled again, knowingly. “You can be better than new with these. Faster.” He was speaking my language.
I looked straight at Him. “Are you kidding me? I can have this? I can have new arms and legs? Man,” I said, “I am all in.”
He slowed me down. “There’s something I need to tell you, something you should know.”
He lifted His hand to his chin, and dropped His voice, “You have to die first.”
Maybe it was my grimace, but he went on, a little too giddy. “Really, it’s no big deal. For you, it’s a drop of water. I mean, it’s eternity. But you’ll see your family again, and it will be like you blinked.” He paused. “Of course, they’ll have to die. And for ten or forty years, they’ll have to live with their Dad and husband dying, but in eternity they’ll see that it was nothing.”
I didn’t think my dying would be ‘nothing’ to my family and looked at the leg and then at Jesus. “Man,” I said, and shook my head. “Did you see them when I was in the hospital? They literally gave up their lives for me. The girls were fantastic. They made everyone feel better. And Mal? I mean, she was the husband and the wife, she paid the bills, she took care of me…” I looked up at Jesus. “I’m sorry, but I can’t trade my wholeness for their misery. It doesn’t matter for how long. A nurse at the hospital told me one night that when she sees my wife, she thinks she ‘ain’t never seen love like that before,’ and I didn’t argue. Love like that should be loved back.”
I don’t know what I expected. This was the God of Thunder, after all, who whipped the money changers and cleaned out the Temple of anyone taking advantage of others, but he just smiled, laying back in His cloud.
“It’s no problem, Dennis. Really. It’s your decision.”
Somewhere between awake and dream, I sat up that morning, in bed, with Jesus still smiling at me. I shot a look to where my wife would lay, and she was there. “I’m still alive,” I thought. And I couldn’t help but wonder, as I lay there with my hand on my wife’s back, if I would have died if I said’ Yes’ to Jesus. Awake, I wondered, too, if it was a test, a dream, or the result of food gone bad. I still wonder.
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