Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Day Fred Met Jesus

It had been dark for a very long time.

There'd been pain, and it was everywhere.  He'd snarled and raged at it, but it was everything he was, and his anger was helpless against it.  It would wear him and wear him hard until he faded back into the dark again.  His thoughts had become scattered fragments, his soul an empty bottle of Thunderbird smashed behind the Highs.  But then the pain stole away, off into nothing, skittering away like a spider before the light.

The light came, golden and alive and bright, and he was himself again.  It had been a very long time since he had been himself.

The light was everywhere, and it took form before him, and looked at him.

"I...um..."

The man's voice felt peculiar, like it was not his own.  He could barely feel himself, but it wasn't the strange haze of dream-life.  It was fuller, more real.

"So," spoke the form before him, in a voice that could have been his own.  "How did you do?"

He felt faint, as he tried to reach back into himself for some sense of who he had been.  He remembered anger, rage, a seething near-madness of hatred.  He remembered passions that had surged in him, that as a young man had shattered and reformed him into a broken thing.  He remembered shouting, and signs, and blows delivered by his hand.

He tried to remember the hate, but in the presence of the form and the light, it all felt unreal, a shadow.

"I...don't...really remember."

Between them sprang a book, or at least, he thought it was a book.  It seemed so, but it shifted and danced.  He tried to look at it, but as his eye would light on a word or a phrase, it would open like a window, and the reality it described would be right there before him in all of its wild complexity.

It was too much, more than he could bear, and he looked away.

"There are different ways we can look at this," the figure said, and there was the hint of a growl in its voice.

"You did not mean to feed me.  You did not want to clothe me.  You did not intend to visit me in my imprisonment."

And the figure brightened, and the light warmed, and warmed still brighter, until it was the tropical sun at noonday.  He tried to step back, but there was no back.

"You knew that I am a consuming fire, and yet you did not even try to do these things.  You cursed the oppressed, and cried hatred against the suffering, and danced and sang at the tears of others.  You were a curse to your children, and you made your family a hated thing."

The light grew fiercer still, shifting red, pressing into him, and his fear began to rise.

And then, as it almost reached the point of pain, it dimmed, just a little bit.  And on the lips of the figure, something that might have been a smile, a little wistful.

"But I'm not done.  There are other things you accomplished, with that little flicker of life I gave you.  You didn't make a single convert, not one, to your hatred.  In fact, you made a point of driving people away from that peculiar little church of yours.  So, well, there's that."

The man remembered, remembered that even his children fled, and his throat closed.

"You took the most hateful things people say they believe about me, and made them real.  You took the mask off of hatred, and did so without ever resorting to violence, not once.  You made hate truly hateful, so that no one could lie to themselves about what it was they were really saying.

Wherever you went, with your signs and your curses, people would gather in defense of what is good.  Police and students, soldiers and peace activists, bikers and mothers, the young and the old, people from every walk of life, from every political persuasion, they'd all come together to resist your strange, precise madness.  Everywhere you went, you summoned the best spirit of a nation to stand against you."

The man watched and knew, as images and voices leapt and danced from the book.  People sang, and they stood together.  They honored the dead, and each other.  Then the book showed a courtroom, and judges.  The figure went on.

"You convinced a nation to reaffirm the rights of the unpopular, to allow everyone to have their voice.  You forced them to write freedom more deeply into their laws, to insure that oppression would be just that little bit harder."

"And for those who I made just a little different, your words of hate might have stung, but they did something deeper.  They helped turn a nation's heart away from an ancient hatred.  Your actions, horrible as they were, turned a people towards giving justice to all of my children.   Your actions, insane as they were, helped remind a people of what matters.  Without you, those who love a little bit differently would not be welcomed and accepted as they are now.  You made your tiny little world a better place, though it was the last thing you wanted."

The book whirled, and told the stories of thousands of human beings, surrounded by their families and friends, celebrating and having blessings spoken over their commitment to one another.

The figure laughed, and shook its head.  The thing like a book closed upon itself, and vanished.

"Fred, I don't hate fags.  I can't.  I am Love.  And though you didn't mean to serve me, you did.  You did an amazing, amazing job.  You couldn't have done better if you'd tried."

The figure changed, and shifted, and grew.  "So, as much as it seems strange to me to say this, well done, you poor, broken, and hateful servant."

The light rose, golden and fierce and inescapable.

"Oh, and this might burn a little bit at first.  But it'll get better.  It'll be wonderful.  You'll see.  Welcome home, Fred."

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