Jesus’ birthday was here, and I wanted to get him something nice, but after three hours of slogging through one store after another, I was bogging down a bit. Okay- a lot. I was desperate. What’s he going to do with a leather coat? Or a pair of fluorescent teal Nike Air Max Lebron X’s? I couldn’t picture it. Okay, ha! I’m not that daft. I wasn’t really thinking the material gift was the thing, but I thought I’d find something funny, a joke we could share, or maybe I’d get inspired about something I could make. Nope…
So, finally, I started writing to say Thank You. That, I could do. At least it would be honest and I could write it from my heart. So I began.
Thank you for finding me when I was lost, and for standing up for me inside of my own heart, and for whispering all those things in my ear that reinvented the world and made it okay for me to be me.
Seemed kinda’ short, though, really. Here’s the funny thing about this note: I couldn’t really remember specifics. I know I used to write Jesus these long heartfelt notes that would bring me to tears, and then leave them in little nooks for him to collect- like underneath rocks in the forest, or tucked up in the branch of a tall pine tree, or rolled up in a bottle in the ocean, because I knew he would find them and understand them and take them away. Now I realized, without ever really noticing this day sneak up on me, that something was different- possible in a way it hadn’t been before. I was still me, but different. I didn’t need to write those long notes anymore. When I thought of Jesus, I just felt this warm glow that stretched from one end of the plane of my vision to the other. We were both inside of that glow, he and I, and everyone I knew, everyone that had ever been, and everything I could imagine was there, too. I felt fresh, and clean, like a newborn.
How did that happen?
PS – My heart apparently doesn’t feel shriveled up anymore, and now I’m having a hard time remembering if it ever did. I know it did, but I can’t remember it, actually. Something that once seemed so real, has disappeared entirely. Is this healing? BTW, I would like to take you out for a meal on your birthday and wondered if you had a favorite place?
As I finished writing the last sentence, I noticed he was standing next to me, and he said of course he would. Then he told me he was getting a hankering for a fig from one of the trees that used to grow in the hills near Jerusalem.
“Sounds good,” I said, “but… uh… you’ll have to drive.”
He nodded his head and told me to join with him. He’s always throwing out these double entendres. Then I literally did join him- right out the front door and onto said hills.
“I didn’t picture you craving a favorite food,” I said.
“I was a man, too,” he said, throwing his hands up in mock indignation.
We walked along the rim of the land, just the two of us, enjoying the air and the sun. A bird or two passed by overhead. We came to a tree full of ripe figs, and he plucked one and tucked right into it.
“Is this the tree you had in mind?”
“What? Ha! No… that tree is long gone. The life I had there, too, that has passed also. Good fig, though… Wow… Really good fig.”
I came to a stop, made the universal signal for time out. “What are you saying?”
“The truth of who we are will never change, but Creation doesn’t have an end game. No exit strategies. And no pause buttons. You with me?”
“You’re saying to move on? Leave the past behind us? Work with me here. I’m about to start writing you a whole new type of letter. A long one…”
“I’m saying the greatest gift you could give to me- to all that is- is the receipt of my heart, our heart, the heart of Christ, into your life. This is the fulfillment of the story I began, but this is not the end of the story… It’s been a good start, but…”
“What do you say we finish the start?”
“I’m asking you to accept that you’re the continuation of what I began. To accept there’s no going back, for either one of us. That we’re headed into something new, something that has never been done before in a world…”
(A crinkled brow. A curious heart. The desire to run. The desire to fly.)
“Come on…” he said. “It’s my birthday… I’d do it for you…”