All everyone could do was stare at the light, or walk among the people staring at the light. There was an abundance of fruit and vegetables to eat, some of it seemed completely new, to me at least, and almost everyone I met seemed to be content, the light had a calming effect, almost like everyone was drugged. As I moved among scores of people, young and old, children, adult I remember thinking that maybe my brother was right; somewhere, at some point Morlocks would come out of the shadows and drag unsuspecting victims underground. But, there were no shadows, just an enormous sense of well being and a great feeling of happiness.
Of course, there was no way to know if this “happiness” was universal; at this point I could only comment on Tucson. Everywhere the people walked among the flowers, picking fruit, no cares or worries. Many shed their clothes, the feeling being that humanity had returned to Eden, their shame of nakedness vanquished. Indeed, it was paradise; wild animals, coyotes, scorpions, even snakes all walked amongst us without fear or animosity.
But, as I talked with different people I heard the same thing over and over.
“It’s good now, enjoy it while it lasts, troubles will surely return, just be ready.”
I walked up to Gwen’s old apartment, fully expecting to find it deserted; my former lover off in pursuit of nobler things. But, I tried anyway and I still had feelings for her, maybe even love. I knocked on her door, but, no surprise, no one answered.
“She’s been gone for weeks”, I heard a woman’s voice behind me. “She dressed herself up in some white robes and took off, looking for God I imagine.”
I turned around and saw a very attractive woman, long black hair, dark brown eyes, perfect figure, dressed in a white tank top and cut off jeans.
“I’m Dr. Marcus, Dan; I dated Gwen for a while, before all this happened. Do you have any idea which way she went?”
“Miriam”, she answered and she held out her hand, which I took and gave a short kiss, feigning lost chivalry.
She continued, “She went that way”, pointing north, “but I don’t know how far she’s gone. It’s been weeks now. I’m sure she’s found the new Jesus by now. She did tell me something as she was walking away. She said, ‘I’m going to find the brightest spot of light and there I’ll find some peace.’ I hope she’s OK. She was a good neighbor.”
“Well, thanks for the scoop, Miriam. I guess you’ve got lots of free time now. Are you all alone?”
“Yup, just me here. Mostly single folks live in these apartments. A lot have left; gone back to nature or something like that I suppose. I’m not complaining, although I do get lonely at times.”
She gave me a short smile and then walked up to me took my hand and gave me a long kiss. We walked hand in hand into her apartment, into her bed and then I never saw her again.
But, it went on and on. I lost track of time, without day or night, no clocks, not even sundials all anyone could do was wait, be content and wait some more. As I look back now it was this feeling of waiting that was the greatest portent that something was coming. If only we all had accepted what had happened, embraced it and accepted true contentment I wouldn’t be writing this now.
Finally, He came. I had expected His arrival for some time; everyone had been expecting Him. He brought the same message that was brought over two thousand years ago. God loves you and all He asks is for you to have faith; to trust and believe Him. Jesus appeared everywhere, moving like a whirlwind from place to place always bringing the same message of God’s love. The word of His return spread among all the people and most rejoiced.
He even came to Tucson and I heard Him speak. He stood on a hill in the middle of the city and His words echoed those he had uttered more than two thousand years ago.
“God has sent me into the world to bring His word to all the people, all His children. He has made the world pure again and offers freely the gift of His love to every man, woman and child of His creation.”
His words touched my soul and, I think, the heart and soul of everyone that had ears to hear. There was a power in his voice, but also gentleness. He dressed in a simple white robe, but he shined brighter than the light that filled the sky. I was overcome with peace and contentment as I realized that every care that I’d ever had was gone. The words he spoke were a soothing balm to the troubled feelings, the doubts that nagged me from the first moment.
As quickly as he spoke, he seemed to vanish and I heard he had moved on to the next stop, bringing the love of God to all humanity. And, He asked nothing in return. No repentance, no confession of faith; just acceptance of the wonderful gift.
Gwen was in the crowd, sitting right up front, eyes fixed on The Messiah. I saw her from the back and managed to inch my up until I was right behind her. I sat down and listened, but with only half an ear at first. I mostly gazed at the back of Gwen’s head, waiting for an opportunity to speak to her. I thought I was over her; our last encounter had an air of finality about it, but I still worried about her and I told myself I wanted to be sure she would be OK.
As I stared at her head, His words seemed to gather force and I forgot about Gwen, her hair, and everything. His word was powerful and simple. When it was over I thought about Gwen again, but she was gone. I saw her in the front of the crowd that had encircled Jesus. I saw Him gently touch her cheek and then they both disappeared into the throng.
But, there were some who doubted Him; they began to question His every word and His motives. Why now, what do you expect from us, we don’t need God, we didn’t ask for this.
He answered simply, “Why not now? Mankind has suffered so and it is time to return to the God that loves you”. Evil was cast out of many hearts by His kind and gentle words and gradually it seemed that even those who doubted Him began to believe, began to embrace Him and the Light.
But, not all. I don’t think anyone knows when the rebellion started, but like a whisper that builds into a roar, it did start. I think it was somewhere up North, the question was raised.
“Can we have some of our things back?”
Jesus’ answer was simple, “You have all the love of God, what more could anyone want?”
I was alone in my room when He came; I don’t know why He chose me, or, perhaps, He visited many people. He didn’t say and I didn’t think to ask. Up close there certainly was nothing heroic about Him. He wasn’t handsome; He didn’t seem particularly powerful; no, there was nothing special about this man. Well maybe His eyes. He had the sort of eyes that could look right through you as if you weren’t even there or they could look right into your heart and mind. Somehow, I had the impression that even before I ever said a single word He knew everything there was to know about me.
“Why now?” I asked, getting straight to the point I thought.
“Why anytime?” He answered, sounding a bit weary. “The world has fallen farther and farther and now you’ve all been returned to the Garden. You want for nothing. God is here, with you; is there anything more?”
“Is it true what has been written? I mean about you, your birth, your life, your death, your rising?”
“You have read the testimony. My Brother’s words that attest to all that they saw. You know what happened to them and to so many others because of me and still you do not believe. If you had been there with Mary, surgeon; if you had attended to my birth, would that have been sufficient? If you had seen the blind man’s eyes open or the paralyzed man pick up his mat and walk away, would you be asking me now? If you had tended to my scourged back or taken me down from the tree and placed me in the tomb would you now believe? If you had seen me throw off the funeral shroud and rise from the tomb, if I had come to you and shared a meal, if you had seen me ascend on a cloud and were witness to me sitting at the right hand of my Father would that have been sufficient? I see the doubt written on your heart, even now; even after all that has happened. Hope has returned to this world; but hope, I fear, has found the door locked and will be sent away.”
“But, how am I to know you are Him?”
“Here I am. Behold my hands, my side, my back. Use your skills, surgeon, and then tell me.”
He rose and took off his cloak and tunic and raised his arms. There was a short wound in his right chest which looked fresh, as though it had been suffered only hours before. I saw the same thing on his back and hands, wounds so deep that muscle and bone were easily discerned, mangled and torn, with nerves laid open and raw. How could a mere man stand such pain?
“I can see that you have suffered, but to what purpose?”
“You don’t need to ask such a question. Look around you. See what the world has become. You have been given everything that man has asked for, even after your father and mother were cast out. Now, you are back home, with God, in a world that is safe and free from death and disease.”
“Are we better off now?” I continued. “So many people are becoming restless; wandering around without purpose. Is that to be our future?”
“A future walking with God, can there be anything better. Can man create anything that compares with all that is here? Can any camera, digital, SLR or anything compare with the precision and beauty of an eagle’s eye? Can a computer create anything even remotely comparable to the art of Michelangelo or Da Vinci or Picasso, all God’s creatures using God’s gifts to His glory.
“You know”, I answered, “it sounds perfect, a real Shangri-La, but something just doesn’t seem right; it seems like something’s missing. I know it seems crazy, but we’ve learned to live with the struggle. I guess we’re pretty empty if we don’t have anything else.”
“But to live every day in perfect communion with your Creator, to have all the Glory of God descend upon this world for all the people; how could even one person reject such a thing?”
“I think you’ve come at the wrong time. We’re not ready.”
“Would you ever be ready? He asked as a tear formed in his eye. “Such is humanity, such is the power of Satan. There are some who are prepared, those who profess true faith in Me and My Father. Alas, there time here will be cut short, but they will see God in all his Glory before everyone. Even so, it is far too few.”
“What about you? Are you destined to suffer and die for us again?”
“You’ve been reading the Bible; surely you know the answer.”
“John 19:30, ‘It is finished’.”
“Yes, my atonement was sufficient to satisfy My Father’s wrath and free the world from its sins. I have returned now to bring the message of God’s love to this world, to seek repentance and forgive its sins. But, I’m afraid Satan’s grasp may be too strong.”
“Will there be no hope, then? Is there still time to repent? Listen to me, I sound like Ebeneezer Scrooge.”
“Scrooge did repent and found salvation on that Christmas Day, salvation through charity, in a huge turkey and in Me. What God has done cannot be undone and there is still time, even as the days grow short. The tidal wave started by your friend, Meno, will sweep across the world and, in the days to come, there will be much sorrow and people will curse God and themselves. Even then some will repent and find salvation, while for many the sin that is buried in their soul will rise and fill the world with hate and greed and violence.”
I sat silent for a while and He sat with me. I felt His grace as he touched my shoulder. As night fell and the room grew dark I drifted off to sleep and when I awoke He was gone. Nothing had changed except there were drops of blood on the cover of my Bible. They looked fresh, but they could not be wiped away. At that moment I said a prayer of thanksgiving.