July 2, 2023

 It seems like I meet Jesus on Sundays.


Today, I found myself back in the black-purple crystalline stillness that has become somewhat familiar lately. The presence of the Absolute was so pervasive that it was palpable. Before me was the great head of a creature that reminded me of a duck-billed dinosaur. Its skin was purple-black, just like the chamber, and its eyes were alive with curiosity.


I walked around it, realizing it possessed a very long neck and a short body with two powerful legs. I placed my hand on its back and it immediately sank to the ground. So, I thought, it seems I am meant to climb on. (I’ve learned not to assume that the messenger–when they are in the form of a beast, at least–is meant to carry me. I don’t like to treat them like beasts of burden because clearly they are intelligent and complex beings with their own distinct character and their own journey. Just because our journeys happen to intersect doesn’t mean I can take them for granted.


I climbed on and the creature took off. It wasn’t a very comfortable ride. It reminded me of sitting astride a big chicken and there was a lot of bobbing back and forth. We eventually reached the mouth of the cave. It opened out into a brilliantly bright, desert landscape. The dunes before us were so scorched, they were almost white. It was hot and the sun was intense. The sky was soft blue, though, and the color palette was one of white, tan and cerulean blue. Even though it was an intense environment, it also felt welcoming in some strange way.


As we emerged from the cave, the creature transformed into a camel with dark brown, almost black, fur. My body, I noticed, was clothed in black, tight-fitting robes and my skin was pure black. Absolute black. Very curious!


My camel carried me across the sloping dunes to an abandoned village. Its clay and stone buildings were painted white and they had been mostly consumed by the encroaching dunes. As such, only the domed tops of the houses and shops were visible.


The camel led me through the sand-filled streets toward the center where there was a big, cracked dome. I understood that this building was a temple, perhaps a church or a synagogue. (More likely a synagogue because I saw no evidence of a cross. Still, what do I know about ancient churches? Perhaps a cross was a later addition to their design?)


I dismounted from the sturdy camel and climbed down through the big crack in the dome of the synagogue. Inside, the temple was mostly filled with sand but there was a plinth on a dais in the center and, upon the plinth, lay a holy book. It was obviously holy because the writing upon its pages was alive and glowing. The pages were white and the script was golden. It was beautiful.


I approached the holy book in awe and, kneeling before it, placed a finger on its pages. Instantly, it transformed into a robed figure. I couldn’t see the being’s face but knew it was a man. The man rolled over and his face was at first quite young but he aged quickly before me until he was an old and wizened with white hair and dark, weathered skin. It was the skin of someone who had lived in the desert his whole life.


I lifted the man off the plinth and steadied him on his feet, leading him up the hill of sand back through the crack in the dome to our waiting camel. After helping him onto the back of the camel, I led him and the camel away from the village and into the desert.


The sun was intense, beating down upon us, and I knew we couldn’t make it far. I also knew we didn’t need to make it far. Sure enough, before us appeared a tent. Its sides were open and its canopy was pure white cloth, flapping in the breeze. There was room enough for all three of us under the canopy and I tended to the camel, helping the old man off its back. We settled down on a white carpet and waited.


We didn’t need to wait long before a white star appeared in the sky above us. As soon as it appeared, I knew that it was no star at all but a radiant angel. This heavenly being was so bright that it was hard to look upon. Nonetheless, I knew it was an angel. I didn’t recognize this angel and realized “he” –if angels have a gender–was new to me. He seemed just as taken by me as I was by him and we gazed upon each other silently, assessing one another.


After a while, I looked out on the desert and spotted a hunched figure making its way toward us. I stood and helped the old man to his feet. We approached the figure and I realized she was an old woman. She was dressed in a white robe with a blue border and, like the old man, her skin was very weathered and darkly tanned.


She fell to her knees as soon as she saw the old man and buried her face in his robe. They hugged and she cried with joy and relief. Feeling awkward, I retreated back to the tent with the angel and camel.


We watched the old couple for a while as they became reacquainted. By that time, night was falling and the soft, blue sky was darkening to deep azure. “Stars” appeared in the sky, only just like before, it was clear these stars were in fact angels. These brilliantly glowing, white celestial beings descended, alighting in a semi circle around the old couple.


And then Jesus appeared, descending to land lightly on his feet before them. Like the angels, he was almost too bright to look upon but I could see the holes in his hands and feet where he’d been crucified.


The angels and Jesus spoke with the old couple for a long time. I couldn’t hear what they were saying and still have no idea what was actually going on. It didn’t really matter. My role here was simply as a catalyst and it wasn’t important that I knew what was happening.


I became aware of being completely pitch black again. I was like a portal into blackness and, sure enough, another angel emerged through my body as it was a doorway. This angel was pure silver and I recognized him as the one I call, ‘Lucifer,’ the angel of the underworld. He acknowledged me briefly before joining the heavenly hosts and Jesus. Jesus, I saw, inclined his head to Lucifer in greeting as did the rest of the angels. Clearly, Lucifer is held in much higher regard than most Christians realize. I wondered about his legacy because I’ve only known him to be kind, wise and compassionate.


Lucifer conferred with Christ, the couple and other angels for a while before he took the hands of the old man and woman and led them back toward me. They entered through my blackness, bowing slightly to me as they departed. And then they were gone, leaving me with the angels and Christ.


Jesus nodded to me, bidding me to approach him. I rose and did so, kneeling before him. He gazed down upon me for a moment before placing his hands on my shoulders and kissing me on the forehead. And then he and the angels were gone.


Well, most of the angels anyway. The original angel remained, still standing beneath the canopy of the tent with the camel. I wandered back to him, full of questions. I was painfully aware of my radiant blackness and very confused about what had just happened.


The angel watched me with amusement. “It’s part of their journey,” he explained, referring to the old man and woman. “They must go through the underworld. Without you, Lucifer could not have come to take them away and none of this would have happened.” He inclined his head, still smiling, and said, “Thank you. I feel fortunate to have finally met you.”


I said I didn’t understand at all. Why me when I’m so flawed, so obviously not pure?


He laughed. “That’s the point, my friend. You are holy precisely because you are not trying to be something you aren’t. You bring it all with you here, the good, the bad, the purity, the hardness, the treasure and the emptiness. It’s all here inside you. It’s all holy.”


And with that, he left.


The timer for my meditation practice chimed moments later, taking me back to the physical world.


***


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