2005-10-17

John's Cave

I woke up in John's cave, the smell of his alcoholism burning in my nose.
We had crashed home together, again, and were on the floor in separated states of undress.
On the stereo, the Highway Men were repeating their title track for what must have been the 908th time.
I felt sad.
I felt like I had betrayed Jesus. I hadn't - we were decidedly over but His karaoke performance from the night before had me thinking about Him, still.
I sighed deeply, turning to face John. In sleep, John was beautiful, much more so than Jesus. The lines from the sun and the way of life he had chosen relaxed from deep rivets to softly carved webbings of character. He breathed gently, like one would expect the only person born with the sole purpose of making holy those of us who have sinned. It was a rhythmic, steady breath. Confident and secure, John slept so peacefully. Where that confidence went during his waking hours was only known by the man small enough to crawl into the Stroh's can with him. But by sleep, John was so transformed that he became an angel - one full of softness and Grace.
Jesusn't like John in sleep. He was constanly kicking and shaking, suffering from Restless Leg Syndrome and He was as tormented in sleep as He was in life. To be fair, they were both tormented.
Who in their position wouldn't be? Crucifixion, omniscience, washing away, at least in theory, the sins that shape us into our very humanity... these things would weigh on any man. Immaculately conceived and destined to lead mankind into the Kingdom of Heaven or not, they were basically human.
They both drank to feel more human.
More human.
Who wouldn't drink to feel more human?
But John... he had always been a little more fragile than Jesus. He wasn't of the same stock and his delicacy made him less in every way. Sometimes a certain daintiness, even in a man, can be what sets him apart from the other boys. Sensitivity and gracefulness in a man is classic when it is hinged just right against his frame.
John wasn't like that. So he spent years making himself hard with alcohol abuse, rustic living, and smoke. Now, his hair was so golden that it shined from the floor where he slept off his drunk from the night before. No matter how many cigarettes, no matter how much booze, and no matter how late the hour, John could finally carry off his delicacy and not only that; it attracted people like me.
I didn't want to be baptized by him. I didn't want to put up with his, in all probability, sub-average IQ. I didn't want anything but to find whatever it was that he had, that Jesus didn't have, and to make it my life. Of course when that's what I wanted, I was dead worng about John's "it" quality. I never realized that he was just another guy, drinking to cover up the feminine daintiness that he'd been told was an unwanted quality in a man.

Simple, right?
Dump Jesus, hook up with his ethereal and weird cousin?
Life is great!
Right?
It's great!

I thought my plan WAS great: Leave Jesus, leave His wholly controlling nature, His meanness toward me... my plan was to leave Him.
For John.
Sort of. I guess I was too young to put a name on what I sought, which was me. Much later, I learned that it wasn't John for whom I left Jesus, it was for myself.
But at the time, at an educated 25 and totally boy-crazy, it felt like I was leaving Him for John.
He, of course, being infinite, knew that the truth was much, much worse. If I were to find my true self, Jesus knew that I would never, ever give Him what He wanted. He knew I could never be simply a wife to the Lord. He knew I needed to do yoga and hang out with vegans and lesbians, even though I myself didn't know that. Jesus did everything in His power, short of bodily harm, to keep me held in the folds of His robes but you know that cliché - you have to let people go, right?

And go I did.
I craved to find myself and with Jesus, I would never have that freedom but with John, in this cave, I could do anything. I could be myself in John's cave. I could smoke and drink and be told that I was pretty, no matter how ugly I felt or acted.
John sleeping as I watched him. There I was, lying on the floor of the cave, the music now killed by my shaking index finger, and in silence but for the breathy sleep of John the Baptist. I didn't want to wake John before I left.

So the holy triangle for me, at the old age of 25 was this:
Me, Jesus, and John the Hot Baptist.
Jesus loved me unconditionally... And frankly, ditto. I adored Jesus but He was so mean to me that I couldn't be with Him any more. My affair with John didn't seem to deter Him and as for John, he wasn't really bright enough to read into the conversations that Jesus and I had with our eyes and with our actions.

John was a bad drunk and both Jesus and I knew that. Hell, even John knew it. He couldn't face his own humanity. I think he just felt like he was less, you know? Imagine your whole life being lived next to Jesus Mitchell Christ, Son of God, Savior of Humankind? You'd never measure up. Even after Little Lord JMC lost His girlfriend to you. You would never, ever fell good enough because while you CAN wash away the sins of any of us, you CAN'T turn water into Stroh's and throw a kegger.

John knew that he wasn't as blessed with a larger-than-life personality. John lived out his issues every day by hiding in his run-down cave and drinking anything that had a proof level on the label. He spent every day waiting for the sinners to come to his door.

I felt sorry for him and I loved him and I wanted something different than Jesus but in four months, not one thing had changed. Jesus would call and hang up. Jesus and I ran into each othert at every turn. The left-over feelings were unthawed and when we threw tham at each other, they bruised us.
Bringing poor John into this mess was my fault and I took it upon myself to remove him from the mess as best as a very young, very naive, and very self-centered girl could.

I selected to ignore my gut feelings, to ignore the pull I had to go elsewhere, and to do what everyone in our small town was waiting for me to do - lose my courage and admit my fate as a wife and mother and return to the home of Jesus M. Christ, Carpenter.

And so it was that on a chilly Saturday morning in the Midwestern fall, after several quiet and slow moments spent reflecting in John's gentle breathing, so it was that I lost my nerve and decided to go back to Jesus.

arizonasarah at 2:10 p.m.

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