leaving Jesus behind

On the occasion of my thirty-fourth birthday

All my life I’ve lived with Jesus. But today I’m leaving him behind.

He has been my pattern; fractured by two thousand years, and the as yet divisions of black and white, boy or girl. I have not walked barefoot in desert dust. He does not hear the songs that shape my days. Yet all my life I’ve looked to him.

Our lives began in tears: him in a manger on a stable floor, me in a pram rocked by winter storms. We were childhood accomplices, testing out our independence, devouring texts in our hunger for other worlds.

In the summer we made friends, the kind that last lifetimes. We dared each other to step outside lines drawn in the dust. In wooden boats adrift in the waves, we clung to each together. And in the synagogues and cathedrals, we caused a storm.

Far from home, we lay awake in the dark, fretting what lay ahead. Friends and strangers anointed our head, feet and hands with scented oils and their tears. “Do justice, love kindness, walk humbly,” they urged us. We wondered whether we could keep our integrity without being judged naïve fools; until we accepted it was to this that we were called.

Lately, the days have been marked by conflict. We have struck out with hard words and upturned tables. Anger drives us beyond ourselves. We march in silence down the streets of London, and with whistles and drums in Edinburgh. And push hope to its limits.

Today I sit counting my grey hairs, worn out by this nomadic life. I am ready to put away my passport, and unpack for the last time.

But he is rest-less, and he shakes at our ordered life, and troubles those who rule. And for such things he was killed.

I lost him at thirty-three. Yet he remains my commitment and hope, my fresh eyes and clear voice, my testing friendships and dizzying loves.

Jesus, stay with me.

(Luke 3.23 records the tradition that, "Jesus, when he began his ministry, was about thirty years of age," and from John's gospel comes the belief that Jesus' ministry lasted three years until he was killed.)


99 said…
Beautifully said. I like the way you write and what you say.
You can unpack here in Buenos Aires. We need people like you.
99 said…
Oh... and happy birthday!
Elaine said…
Happy Birthday Rachel!!

Big birthday hugs reaching all the way from Cambridge.

Elaine xxx
rachel said…
thanks 99! Glad you liked the post and thanks for the welcome.

Hiya Elaine! glad you popped by..just about to send you an email.. x