JUST COME MEET JESUS ONE TIME she would implore us again and again. Sarah was a sweet girl, an improbably lost girl with dirty dreadlocks and a smile that seemed afraid of itself. She’d been hounding Maria and me for weeks to go to an after school church gathering for teens. Considering that I’d just waged, and won, a public war with my high school to get Christian groups kicked off campus, it was a big ask.
Eventually, Sarah came to us in tears. It we didn’t support her in this, we didn’t support her friendship. This clearly cracked logic wasn’t worth the fight, so we caved. Sarah was very fragile with a shit home life and if spending a couple of hours listening to her pastor would make her happy, so be it.
It was summer, near the end of the school year, and we slipped into the silver Scirocco and headed to meet our Lord. It wasn’t a big church. It was one of the more modern types that are much closer to the DMV than the Notre Dame. I’m sure it’s super expensive to inspire awe, but seeing as how I was there to meet Jesus, the place was a letdown. Slumpstone, steel doors, and a parking lot. Pretty much the ass end of a 7–11.
We were late. Squealing doors made sure everyone knew. The pastor looked up and cast a stink eye over the heads of the hundred or so gathered teens. Sarah, too, looked disappointed. I remember now that I wore a black t-shirt with a red image of Christ on the front. It wasn’t exactly reverent, but I thought it fit the party theme. We should have left. Instead, I picked a spot in the front row to get a good look.
Are you surprised to read that it was a terrifically painful affair? After two incredibly long hours of being told how bad we were and how we needed to accept Jesus. He gave the entire assembled audience an ultimatum: We were going to stay in that room until every last one of us accepted Jesus. And, to make it clear that Maria and I were the ones holding things up, he stared right at us while he worked himself into a lather. My shirt and smirk could not have helped matters.
A bit later he asked everyone to close their eyes and pray hard for the holdouts to give themselves over to the lord. Do not open our eyes, he admonished. No matter what! Want to know why? Because the weirdo had his entire fist shoved into his mouth. For reals. I opened my eyes and there he was, small hand twisting back and forth inside his big mouth as he paced the stage. He was having a wild-eyed moment, communing with God in his own special, slobbery way. I nudged Maria to take a look, grabbed her hand, and we got the hell out of there.
The things you do for friends, right? Sarah stopped coming around after that, so we clearly did things wrong. I never did get to meet Jesus, but to give the good man some credit, I really don’t think that was his scene.
[The “Life Moments” series consists of half-hour morning exercises. I sit, let a memory bubble up and type it out …. with the clock set for one half hour. Doesn’t leave much time for worrying about grammar or editing. Just get the stuff out the door. All associated photos are mine, including this one that makes little sense.]