A Love Story

Whence He had come, none knew. Not a word had been uttered from His lips, yet the people loved Him. With great compassion He gazed upon them all, and His loving touch was a healing one. The people would fall before His traveled feet, weeping and crying out to Him. With pity and Love did He look upon their sufferings and the anguish of their souls He took upon Himself. Screams of terror He turned into content laughter and tears of sadness He fashioned into tears of joy. The masses began to follow Him wherever He traveled and still not a word had He spoken.

Verily it may be said that the people would not have hesitated to make Him their king, and consequently I, the superlative leader and protector of the people, deemed it necessary to clandestinely arrest Him, lest the masses be blindly led astray from the greatness I had built for them. Their laughter and unearthly joy had deeply frightened my colleagues and I, and it seemed as though the order we had established through great struggle would disintegrate into ash and dust if this man be permitted to freely roam the world.

Therefore, when the night was black I descended to the murky cell he had been confined to in order to boast my victory over him, but perhaps more so because a profound and remarkable curiosity had grown within me, that my proud heart was irresistibly drawn there. Long had I refused and delayed this encounter, hiding away from Him in my resplendent tower but the curiosity would never leave me, gradually gnawing away at my soul. I did not deem Him worthy of a visit from one so rational and powerful as I, commanding torments upon Him from afar, but finally to the gloomy cell I descended nonetheless.

I found Him in the cell and immediately I was afraid. His body was covered in numerous gashes and ugly scars and His weak body was famished and clothed in scarce and tattered garments, His skin nearly purple from the freezing temperature of the cell. But none of these factors caused my heart to fear. Rather, it was that dreadful look of peaceful compassion He looked upon me with a Love that abided in the infinite depths of His eyes, a Love stronger than any love or hate I had chanced to encounter in this world.

Only through tremendous strength and strife did I conceal the fear that gripped my soul, but I perceived that I could hide nothing from the mysterious eyes of my prisoner; eyes that pierced the depths of my being. My initial design was to proudly and indicatively substantiate victory over him, but as he sat there, his back resting against the cold wall of gray stone so peacefully and willingly, I became furious beyond restraint.

“What are you looking at, fool?! Can’t you see you’re my prisoner! I’ve defeated you, you are powerless, you’re…” my voice faded as I sputtered out of breath and gradually regained dignified composure, recalling my rank. “Why have you come?” I continued more quietly now, and to my considerable vexation, I could not keep my voice from breaking when I asked Him this.

Clearing my throat, I observed that still He uttered not a word. Refusing to break His stare, a rather sad but compassionate smile crept over his features. To look upon such an expression on this bruised face was unbearable and quickly I averted my gaze toward the lower corner of the filthy cell, where cobwebs and black dust had gathered.

“You shouldn’t have come. We have given the people what they desire, and no longer does the world need you. You see, we have made progress. Yes… progress.” I then recalled how magnificent my powers were and the impressive magnitude of my influence by which I had accomplished such wonders. I contemplated how equipped with the abilities and abundant knowledge I possessed, I had no need to fear nor to believe in this fool.

Seizing the opportunity my pride and intelligence had momentarily constructed I cried out to my prisoner, “Ha! Did you really think that your perfect suffering would be enough to save them?! No.” My words began to rise in venomous ecstasy as they flooded the small cell, and quickly I pulled my gaze away from the wall and fixed it firmly upon my prisoner with sinister malice.

“All you did was increase their burdens! You weighed them down with such terrible compassion and the possibility of such an unattainable hope. No stranger, I tell you now that the people were better off without you; without hope for something they will never achieve. Did you really think they’d be capable of imitating your life? Your death? No, they are not! The people are not capable of such greatness, they are not capable of comprehending your mysteries. Mysteries… Bah! The people desire something concrete, something that makes bloody sense to their puny minds, but what do you give them? Goddamn mysteries! That’s what you give them! Truth so far beyond their comprehension that they may only scratch the surface of its fullness. Yes. You play with them and their souls, scoundrel!”

Eyes ablaze and heart beating quickly I spared a moment to collect my thoughts in order to definitively and utterly crush the prisoner with rationality, intelligence, and evidence. His eyes remained fixed to mine, but not in the challenging or resentful manner that I so anticipated and deeply longed for. Yes, I longed to see anger and indignation upon his face, be it directed towards me, for reasons I know not. Perhaps it was to shatter that horrible blade of Love He wielded so insistently or to draw out a contradiction to his own preaching in ages past. Whatever it was, at that moment I greatly preferred malice to this unbearable Love.

Then the voice in my head whispered to my mind’s ear so sweetly and with such wisdom, “Now you see how weak he is. You do not need him. You have become great through your own talents, through your own toil. None possess the authority to take credit for what you have achieved. Now we must do away with him, for he will only obstruct progress and steer the people away from the wonderful utopia and bliss you have built up from chaos and suffering. Remember, you alone know your truth, so do not let him speak of truth. For who is he to tell your majesty what is and is not, and what is good and what is not? You yourself determine this, for you are your one and only king and god.”

When I was young I did not hear a single word the voice spoke. Then as I grew and matured I heard but hesitated to listen. Eventually however, I indeed began to listen and comply, for the voice is so immensely powerful and intelligent. Indeed, my submission to it has yielded the grandest and most extravagant of successes.

Presently I grinned, determining the judgment spoken unto my mind to be brilliantly correct although a profound doubt grew within the depths of my heart, a doubt that immediately I suppressed.

“Now prisoner,” I began ecstatically. For even as I spoke, the evidence and reason my mind earnestly collected swirled into a formidable argument that I silently dared this beaten man to respond to. “Allow me to expound unto you the sheer magnitude of our victory. We have science, my dear fool, science. Science and nothing above it. We have taught them to be skeptical of all things that cannot be verified by physical experimentation. All that does not adhere to this criteria becomes a subjective matter for the ego to arbitrate. You see, we have rather brilliantly redefined truth. The tangible fact is truth, morality a personal matter, and transcendent spirituality an irrational and unimportant affair. We have given the people a wonderful concreteness to truth, one that the simplicity of their minds can grasp. Incomprehensible mysteries and unattainable perfection we do not burden them with. I ask you again, are they capable of such greatness? Perhaps some may come close, but what of the others? Are your handful of saints really worth the failure and agony of the multitudes of sinners who will miserably continue to fall short? Are they?!”

He stared at me quite peacefully, as if He were making sure that he heard and understood every word I spoke and the depths of meaning they possessed. Though there appeared to be a deep sadness developing in His compassionate eyes, one that arises when a lover perceives a great unhappiness in his beloved and is utterly captivated in listening to the outpourings of his beloved’s heart. Then there appears a profound desire to comprehend and mend this unhappiness in one whom the lover values far above his very self.

I was determined to conceal how tremendously His response had horrified me and subsequently I continued my proud oration with stubborn resolve.

“You see stranger, the people are happy. Their desires we satisfy. No longer are there any who are hungry, for we give them to eat. No longer are there those who thirst, for we give them to drink. Poverty we have vanquished, economic burdens we have eased them from. The weak are no more, for we have achieved equality in abilities. Science and the individual are our gods. Yes, the people are happy. They are free. Free from laws, free from responsibility, free from false hopes, free from anything that is uncomfortable and undesirable. Only the individual knows best how to live their life, and therefore they may select any path they choose. So long as it’s acceptable and tolerant I suppose. The people have no need for you, they never did. They are satisfied, can’t you see that?!”

As I spoke the emptiness of my soul and the discontentment of my heart began to cry out to me; or perhaps to Him. With great wrath I subdued this cry, and my words grew increasingly infuriated once again.

“Why have you come then?! Life is easy and therefore we are happy! Have you come now to tell them, ‘Pick up your crosses and follow me’? No. It is better for them to leave their crosses and not bother with them. They don’t need you, I tell you! We don’t need you, I…”

My voice seemed to grow thinner now and I could feel my knees trembling. I noticed how heavy I was breathing, and recognized how this development had broken my proud posture as I bent over slightly to get air.

‘No,’ I thought. ‘Here the authority is mine. I have defeated him. Compose yourself, fool!’

But in attempting to lock eyes with Him once again, I found that composure was beyond my power. Here was a man who I had neglected, beaten, and laughed at, but now as I stood before Him I was utterly powerless. This was certainly not how I had desired to appear before Him, but I now feel my heart had known all along that this encounter would inevitably wound me.

Then I said to Him, “I don’t need you. I don’t believe in you. I’ve… I have def… I have defeated you.”

Now my whole body trembled and extending an arm, I steadied myself against the cold stone wall. My head spun in a maze of thoughts and ideas that blurred into incomprehensible nothingness. I lowered my gaze and shut my eyes for a moment to keep from fainting. Then

pressing my right hand to my chest, I felt the rapid beating of my heart intensify with each passing second.

My empty heart and famished soul began to cry out, so that my mind began to articulate a certain terrible thought. ‘Perhaps I need him. Perhaps I should release him to the world.’

I found myself unable to suppress this thought, but at the very moment of its articulation the voice in my head spoke.

‘Fool! You cannot release this man. He will wreak havoc on all that has been achieved, He will topple the towers you have built, and burn the walls you have erected. Verily I tell you, if you release this man into the world, the people will demolish the comfort and bliss you have given them and there will certainly be chaos. You are a rational being, you are intelligent, you have power! Do not dare throw it all away, do not be deceived! Do away with Him!’

But the voice was not so eloquent this time, in fact the words it spoke were infuriated and drenched in fear and trepidation. The voice quivered and nearly cried out in fear when I looked at the prisoner. The voice which I had thought invincible, the one that had built up my glory, and seated me on a glittering throne of gold, was afraid. But of whom? Of this strange man, a feeble prisoner, beaten and imprisoned.

I had always deemed the voice to be mine. It was the voice of my intelligence and my strength, I had presumed. But now the voice seemed foreign and I recognized it to be an intruder within my mind. An intruder that had dominated my life. The voice had been my master and I its slave.

As I formed these thoughts the voice let out a demonic howl and in great chaos I cried out to the man, “Why have you come?!”

He answered me not and in immense fury I struck Him across His face. His body, so frail and weak from starvation and beatings, crumpled to the ground.

“Answer me!”

Tears welled up in my eyes, blurring my vision, but still I could see the man, His scarce and tattered garments swaying as He painfully yet patiently regained His footing. His eyes met mine once again and not a shred of compassion had been lost from them. Blood began to trickle down the left side of His face where I had struck Him, but of this He did not appear bothered by or at least not focused upon. Then I knew He was about to speak, for His mouth began to inch apart, but I was afraid. Continually and relentlessly had I demanded of Him to speak, but now that I perceived He indeed intended to do so, I became intensely afraid of what He would say to me.

Collapsing to the ground I nearly prostrated myself before Him. Between tears I began to speak without guard or restraint or nearly any thought for what I was saying or for the manner in which I was presenting myself. Words and emotions flooded out from the depths of my heart and mind in such a profound and authentic fashion, that I felt as if I had never truly spoken before in my life.

“Depart from me Lord! For I am a sinful man.” Then clasping my hands to my face to hide the tears I continued, “So long have I yearned for you! To see your face. But that very face I have beaten and mocked. Do not forgive me Lord, I am a monster and a scoundrel, I do not merit forgiveness nor compassion of any kind. In my pride I have become a slave to freedom. Enslaved by my passions, my instincts and my desires. Damn my arrogant pride! And fear! Yes, my fear. Fear has controlled me all my life and fear has diminished my soul inside a cramped cell. It is I who built it! With my own hands. I wanted to see you but I was afraid. I desired with all my heart to follow you, but I was afraid. I am not capable of such greatness, but oh how I’ve craved it. I’ve craved some bloody purpose that is worth pursuing! My empty heart has craved something lasting, something fulfilling. My passions and desires I satisfy, but my soul remains thirsty. Everything in this world is fleeting! For a moment I am satisfied and happy, but the next I am left in even greater starvation than before. Curse this world! For it is a desert without shade, a journey without rest. I was not made for it, I see that now. And the voice. Yes, that dreadful voice. I complied with its every wish and it lived through me. I allowed it. Depart from me! I am base, I am malevolent, I am a supercilious fool. A scoundrel. Before all others I am guilty.”

Having uttered these last words, I recognized that I had truly come to such a realization. Before all others I am guilty. I had spoken quite truthfully. Strange though. The outpouring of my heart was wonderful and this realization quite liberating. I felt a powerful surge of consciousness and raising my eyes to Him, I saw that he was smiling gently and affectionately.

“Lord, this is a wonderful world. It is a paradise. If only we could all see that. Then perhaps it would truly become one. Then will your kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven.”

I smiled quietly as I said this, recalling the words from ages past. A distant memory. My eyes were quite red, but I raised them up to His and said, “Lord, I do not deserve forgiveness. Throughout my life I have built a Hell for my soul and in its flames I willfully bathed. Nevertheless, I ask for your forgiveness, not because of my own righteousness, but because of your infinite power.”

Then gazing back into my eyes he replied, “I forgive you.”

Upon hearing this, I bowed my head and wept. Tears rained down from my eyes, showering His dirty and frigid feet. Tears of despair they were not, rather, I now shed tears of unworthy happiness.

“Why have you come?”

“My child, I have come for you.”

I stared dumbfounded into his brilliant eyes. No longer did I weep, nor did I utter a single sound, but on my knees I looked upon Him. The cell was enveloped in complete silence. A divine silence. He was a human, a ragged and beaten one. But there was something in His eyes. Something transcendent. As I gazed into their radiance, I realized how familiar they in fact were. A divine flame danced within them, but it was a flame of the very same divine spark that I had observed in every man and every woman I had ever encountered. Yes, this spark had ignited into a glorious flame, but the very same divine spark resides in every human soul waiting to be set ablaze. There was certainly a resemblance between this man and the human race, beyond mere physical form. A profound similitude in image and likeness was unmistakable. If only I had been able to perceive it before. This clandestine divinity is a beauty beyond compare, a beauty that every man and woman was created with, a beauty that was designed to be splendidly displayed in the grandeur of its achieved potential.

Then Christ, bending over, pressed His lips to my forehead and kissed me. “I Love you.”

The moment he said this, my soul was pierced. A heavenly blade had been driven through the depths of my being. He took a step back and I stood up on my feet. I looked into His eyes once more and saw how sweetly He smiled at me. I allowed a joyful smile to form upon my features in return. Then I turned around and left the room. I limped as I walked, for so deeply had I been wounded in the struggle.

I withdrew from the cell, but the door I left open.