Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Who is Jesus?

I was sitting on a park bench, minding my own business, when a young woman approached me. "May I ask you a question?" she asked. I steeled myself for what would be the usual continuation... not really a question, but a sad story and then: the plea for money. 

But instead she said, "Who is Jesus to you?" I looked at her. She was carrying a handful of orange pamphlets. Are Jehova's Witnesses canvassing the parks? I wondered. I was wearing our community's summer-simple habit, a dark blue Lands End dress, with no veil, just the cross and girdle cord, also dark against the blue. If you didn't look closely, you might not even notice it was a habit.

"The Son of God?" I said, with that annoying lift at the end that I associate with Valley Girls and most of the young people I overhear in the subway... those who use the word like in the middle of every phrase... like, you know, when they're like talking to each other?

"Oh, so you believe in Jesus?" she asked. 
"I do," I said with probably way too much emphasis on the do, (overcompensating for my annoying first response.) 
"Do you go to church?"
"Every day." She looked shocked (impressed) at that.
"I'm a nun," I explained, "I have to go to chapel every day, four times a day, actually." She didn't quite understand the term nun

She handed me one of her pamphlets: Moses in Manhattan, a cute little cartoon about an imaginary Moses wandering through potholes in Queens, braving rush hour in the Bronx and getting side-tracked in Brooklyn, all in search of the promised land.  It was a tract published by Jews for Jesus. She pointed out the address and email on the back and told me if I had any questions I should call or write. Then she was off... in search of more promising converts.

I sat there awhile and studied her pamphlet. At the bottom in small letters it said, Please do not litter!  I laughed. Practical instructions in the promised land.

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