You're an Angel

It was probably early in October... Jesus and I left Springfield for the weekend and went down to Southern Illinois to see my grandmother and His friends. His friends in Southern Illinois were the kind of people who reveled in being different and artistically gifted but who never even thought of going somewhere that might afford them the competition and camaraderie that makes a gifted person a talented artist.
Instead, they all chose to stick with what they knew and they mostly lived in the hillside cabins of Makanda, a winding town with no intersections that was built into the edge of the Ozarks, where they blew a kiss to the Shawnee National Forest. Like so many artists colonies, Makanda produced more parties than progeny.

It was a fun trip. We spent a long, sun-warmed Saturday afternoon winding through the back roads of the country. We literally crossed dales and streams and played DJ and talked about everything we had ever thought about but not like, "We need to talk." It was like, just talking.
There was nothing underneath our conversation but the very fact that we were enjoying one another's company. The sun was warm in the car but I knew I would see my breath later that night, after we had circled Southern Illinois, from Murphysboro to Bald Knob, and back to Carbondale and PKs, the biker bar where my parents met. OK. It was Pizza King when they met but now, and for the last... many years, it has been a very cool biker bar/folk-singer destination. I loved it there.

All that day, we smelled the dryness of the turning leaves and above our car were turkey vultures, hawks, and eagles. Jesus didn't set out to go to the cross at Bald Knob but of course… we couldn't not go, you know? Kind of like when someone is in buried in a cemetery, and you are sort of in the area, but not exactly, so you feel like you have to stop. While you don't really want to go to a cemetery because it's not where you feel like you are, emotionally, you go because you know that later, you won't be near that cemetery and you WILL want to visit your dead and you won't be able to.

Maybe that's a Midwestern thing but I know it's a god thing, too. Guilt, I guess.
Anyway, the cross at Bald Knob rises on a hill and towers in shadow. He was going to the cross at Bald Knob and He wasn't about to admit it because that would be way too cliché for Mr. Jesus McGod.
The cross there stands on a hill and towers in shadow across the black dirt and the Earthen ghosts of abandoned strip mines. We drove around the ruralest of rural Illinois, my soil, my growing up, and we drove for hours, passing the country wineries, where, instead of the nicely dressed and displayed front houses in Napa or Sonoma, the wineries are old barns.
We passed on up in Alto Pass, or maybe Pomona... you'd think I remember but I don't. At the very edge of the afternoon, yeah - I think we were in Pomona - I urged Jesus to stop.
"Honey I can make this for you any time you want. Why stop and BUY it when you can get it from me, for FREE?"
"For the experience," I replied. "To support them," I continued. "Because it smells good in the winery...." I was running low and didn't want to say anything that could even remotely start discord on that day. "I don't want this day to end! Come on!" I unbuckled my lap belt and opened the door enough for the shoulder strap to haltingly let me go. "Come on, Jesus! Just…. Please?"

We walked into the barn and the smell of peaches, apples, and blueberries fermenting with sugar and making the sweet wines that would be bottled into simple dark bottles was comforting. I inhaled deeply and turned to Jesus behind me. I reached out my hand to Him and He softened so much that I could see once again why millions of people rely on Him as a gentle, supportive savior. There was no purple in His eyes because He was sober. There were no calluses on His huge hands, despite His years of carpentry by trade. He was wearing robes but He had hidden them under a flannel hunting shirt - you know - one of those lined ones, that can be reversed into a fluorescent-orange jacket so that some overly self-medicated redneck would not mistake the Lord and Savior for a 12 point buck.
You would be surprised how many close calls there were for Jesus when He went out into the woods. Since people who also might happen to be out in the woods aren't exactly expecting to run into Jesus (except for the hippies, and man, you haven't lived until you've seen Jesus fuck with those freaks). I mean, sure He's a guy but...
He's also not, you know?
There's something huge and different and decidedly not human about Jesus. I mean!
Not that He is shaped like a stag or a wild turkey! I mean!
He's certainly been to plenty of stag parties and He likes both Stag beer and Wild Turkey....
How some guy with a carton of Marlboro Reds and gun rack mistakes Jesus Mitchell Christ for venison steaks and sausage, I can't answer but it's kind of like people see what they want to see when they spot Jesus and don't know that they were face-to-face with the 'al-fucking-mighty Himself', His words, not mine.

We walked into the barn and sat at wooden stools at a tasting table. It was so richly scented with heavy, Illinois fruit and heavy, Illinois autumn. We were two of 4 customers there that day and the owner was behind the counter. She fell in love instantly with Jesus' charm and His gracious smile, given to her as she presented Him with a rich pumpkin wine that smelled even better than the Shawnee nature we'd been drinking all day. We were having so much fun that we bought a bottle and took it to the second floor of the barn, where we found a predictable romantic glass patio table and plastic chairs, looking out over a deck and into the forest where I'd both been raised.
As we smiled quietly to each other and drank our wine, I started crying.
"Is this what you want?"
"I don't know. I can't…..
There's not…..
It's not a question I can answer." He sighed heavily and started drumming His fingers on His glass of wine, nervously.
"But I need you to answer it, Jesus. I need to know."
"What do you need to know, except for how pretty it is here and how much I love you?"
"I need to know a lot of things." I was wiping the tears from my cheeks now, the crying finished and a flicker of hackle rising on my back, as I entered into Level One of preparing for what might soon devolve into a god-fight. "I need to know about yoga, an-----" I said.
"I've raised the Kundalini and it ain't shit next to looking at these trees and drinking this wine." Jesus cut me off and I let Him.
We looked at each other for longer than a moment, each waiting for the other one to say what would naturally come next from an obtuse couple.
It was tears, you know? The kind that look fake but there's nothing you can do to stop them and trying to do so would only result in making you into the spectacle that you're currently not.

And then it all tumbled out.
"Jesus, I need to see things. This is all I've ever known and I hate it most of the time because I'm bored and I'm lonely and everyone moved to Chicago and I am all alone except for you and your friends unless I come down to Carbondale and I weant to move here but you don't so what? What? You won't move here and I won't stay in Springfield but this is too good to let go off because I don't think I want to lose You, even though I hate you so much sometimes and I don't get it, why you're so mean to me and why I'm so mean to you - I don't know but I know I'm sorry and I can work on it - I can be good, Jesus, I really can I can be good and be nice and be your Girl but You drink way too much and I'm almost done with school and Chelsea lives in Chicago and I want a real job and You never help me with anything so please please please tell me what comes next because I don't know and I don't know what to do about not knowing and you're god, you know? You're god and that's what you do for everyone but me - WHY won't you do it for me? Why do you leave me out?"
By the end of my snotty, illogical break-down, Jesus was holding both of my hands and had moved His chair away from the table, away from me. He was crying quietly.
"You're not like the other girls. I can't…..
Oh Sarah….
Don't cry, baby, don't cry." He looked full-on at me, and reached a long, flannel-covered arm to touch my sternum, then my chin.
"You're not like them," said said, again, quietly and with His own tears forming so that his voice cracked a little.

As soon as he told me that I wasn't like the other girls, I assumed He meant that I was fatter, or that I wasn't Catholic enough, or that my fling with John the Baptist was the black mark on my head that Jesus loved to point out to me, and then ignore in a seeming attempt to confuse the hell out of me. Literaly, I guessed.

Not like the other girls - I assumed that He meant I was different in a normal way, not that He meant this:

"You're an Angel."
It stopped my crying.
"Jesus! Don't do that." My tone changed, as I went to the next level of Fight Anticipation, also known as Defensive. "Don't tell me something nice to get me to shut up. I'm not some stupid little girl that you're fucking. I'm your girlfriend, who you love and who you have shar-------"
All I heard was the force in His voice as a wave of birds left the trees in the immediate area. It wasn't so much the volume, which was actually very low. His voice, just then, had the thunderous resonance of a low-flying Stealth bomber. It hurt my head but it did shut me up.

"You are an Angel." He looked away, like He had more to say but had to form the words first.

I think the itching started immediately.

arizonasarah at 10:50 a.m.

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