Go into the hills an bring back logs, straight, peel the bark and smooth them satin fibers, the main pole at least eight arms the cross no less than six. Lash them well so they will not yield under the weight of the body where you might hang. Do not speak to the shepherd, he will tell tales of what he claims he has seen on the hill but he cannot be trusted and speaks of his dreams of centurions standing over the freshly dug graves.
First appeared in Rain Dog Review Vol. 1, No. 4 (1996) and later in Legal Studies Forum Vol 32, No. 1 (2008)
As a child, a Jewish child no less, December was always a bit difficult. We had Channukah, which no Jew would dare claim grew solely to compete with Christmas, although we all knew that was precisely what had happened.
The problem was Christmas, but had nothing to do with Jesus, or the church or even its historical teachings about the supposed role we Jews played in that story, a role for which we had been paying for two millennia.
The problem was far more basic, and all you needed to do was drive down virtually any street in any city and it would be at once apparent. Christmas-celebrating homes were decked out in all colors of lights, while Jewish homes, those few who competed, were left with a palate of white and blue, or up to nine candles, and that was a guaranteed for sure last place finish in the December game.
Walking on ice is easy, although you must be careful not to slip for the fall can be damaging, but walking on water is impossible unless you are not you, and he has returned in your body which we all find highly unlikely, although the difference between you is a simple state of matter. The question, then, is do you see any real difference between the two of you and if not, he may well smile as you together disappear into a thick cloud of steam.
He is due to arrive as soon as we are ready. We have known for some time that he is on his way, and we want everything just so for him when he arrives. That is the least we can do, and the least he would expect. We are not certain just what he will want so we can never be certain we are actually ready. That, we think, explains why he has not arrived. Unless he has, since we have never seen him, and don’t know if he might actually be a she. So we say our prayers and go on with preparations.
He walks into the room hoping he won’t be seen and if seen, won’t be recognized. Not many know him, none, he is certain, truly know him, merely his image and the idea they have of him. It has been this way for centuries, and he can barely recall the acts done, the words spoken in his name. He has been here forever but they wait, patiently, expecting a return he cannot make until they let go of their dreams and see the reality of him.
He came, stayed a while, and left, and it was only when he was gone that most missed him. Some say he will come back but others are skeptical, and no one really knows for certain. Some actually say that he didn’t leave, that he simply changed, and might appear when no one expects him. Several said it was a she, not a he. No one was quite certain of the person’s name, some said it was Jesus, some said Buddha, some said it was Tara, but the children said it didn’t matter really, that to see him, to see here, all you needed was a mirror, and the real name was simply Peace.
It is incredibly difficult to be a truly holy man, it isn’t enough to inspire peace with your words and presence, you had better walk on water, turn water into wine, heal with the touch of a single finger. You can’t simply stand up for justice at the risk of your own life and limb, you have to wander around a desert, carry tablets down the side of a mountain. You cannot be compassion, you have to forsake everything and be always available for questions that have no answers. It’s a real problem, since we all seek to be holy, but no one wants to do the hard work of it.
Buddha was asked, once, to describe all the dharmas while standing on one foot. “Hillel could do it,” the crowd said, “so you too should be so able.” Buddha smiled and said, “Hillel was a good friend, as was Jesus and Ishmael.” Buddha then gently sat beneath the Bodhi tree and was completely silent.