The sign on the bumper sticker said, “Honk if You Love Jesus”. Now, i’ve seen that sticker around, and it got me to thinking about Jesus, and bumper stickers and honking in general. i mean, i think Jesus is a right-on guy. He practiced non-violence, loved everyone regardless of who they were or the stupid decisions they’d made in life, and he went out into the world to learn from others and spread what he had learned.
In fact, now that i think about it, so did Mohammed.
And Tony Robbins.
In fact, there’s a lot of folks out there, both dead and alive, who made it their life’s mission to help folks out of suffering and into peace. And their own personal islands in Fiji. (Love you Tony!)
And in the realm of folks who learned some stuff and then went out there and taught that stuff to try and help folks who’ve fallen down to get back up and try again – Jesus is definitely in the top 10.
AND, since i’ve got a propensity for reading every sign i see (all those words! If you don’t read them..do they still exist? No word left behind!) and an abundance of minutes sitting at San Jose red lights, i read bumper stickers. They are my bathroom books, if you will.
Except i’m not not on a toilet.
Or in a bathroom.
And they aren’t books.
This analogy doesn’t really work here, at all.
Anyway, i love bumper stickers and stickers + my affinity for right-on-guru-dudes = honking! And so?
Which completely startled the driver who noticeably jumped in his seat, looked in his rear view mirror and glared.
Having caught his eye and thinking perhaps he might not know who it was who loved Jesus, and always wanting to make a connection with a perfect stranger that DOESN’T involve hauling my ample butt up off the pavement after having, yet again, lost my perpetual fight with gravity, i mouthed:
“Jesus! Great guy!” Then i point at the sticker on the back of his car and wave enthusiastically.
The driver raised up his hands in a “Hallelujah” gesture, pointed at the sky which i took as an indicator that he, too, loved Jesus, whom i believe lives somewhere in the sky, and mouthed something back to me in the mirror that looked like: “Fun too!” i gave him an enthusiastic thumbs up and honked my horn one more time in Jesus-loving solidarity and friendship.
(A few moments later, when the light turned green and the driver took off in a squeal of tires and hot pavement and a definite flip of the bird with his middle finger out the driver’s side window, i realized that he had been pointing to the red light, NOT the Jesus sky-condo, and that i might have mis-interpreted the lip reading.)
Huh. i guess he forgot he loved Jesus.
But it got me to thinking about Jesus and the Buddha and Tony Robbins and i remembered my sophomore year at the University of Oregon when i decided to find the One True Religion.
Now, i have always been a spiritual person. i grew up in the country and spent a fair amount of time playing in impossibly green, lush woods filled with ferns and moss and deer. i walked empty, two-lane country roads to school and fed apples through the fence to the neighbor’s cows along the way. Their tongues were rough and would tickle my hands. Crows perched on telephone lines would peer down and caw their opinions at me. (i always thought they were laughing at some joke i didn’t quite get yet.) And at night, i believed the moon followed me.
When my dad built a house even further out in the country, elk would munch contentedly in our pastures during the day while hawks circled endlessly overhead looking for prey. At night, coyotes barked and yipped at each other, communicating across the hills and owls hooted me to sleep. The stars seemed so close that i could almost touch them.
It seemed like everything was infused with life and spirit and so vast and intricate and achingly beautiful…how could one NOT believe in something greater than ourselves? So, i tried the local country Christian church but i enjoyed the walk there and back more than i enjoyed the service. Once inside, i couldn’t keep my eyes off the windows and the tantalizing natural world outside which constantly called to me. Rain or shine, i found more meaning in the laughing crows and tickling cows than in the hard, wooden pews singing songs i didn’t know from dusty books i’d never read. It didn’t take.
So, i read books on Native American spirituality and Celtic mythology and Mayan prophecies and angelic communications and Klingon rites but all of it felt like trying on someone else’s clothes. i had no words for the profound peace and awe i felt when
out in nature, but suspected it was some kind of religion…i just had to find it. And there can only be one. (Cue Highlander) So I did what every middle-class, 80’s-indulgant, i’ve-got-everything-but-i-want-more, Gen-X late teen did.
i went to college.
And there, in my sophomore year and still searching for meaning, i took an entire semester of “Religions of the World” so i could learn which religion was truly the “One True Religion” and end this quest once and for all.
My first lesson was that “Religions of the World” were really classes on “Religions of the World As Seen By White People” and left a LOT out. Whole populations of people and their beliefs were ignored while the instructors focussed mainly on Christianity and Judaism, with Muslim, Buddhism and Hinduism getting a nod but filtered through a western view. i was pretty sure i was missing some things and that worried me.
But, the second and even more profound lesson i learned was that surprisingly, all of these religions were saying exactly the same thing. Oh, they definitely looked different on the outside! Clothing, facial hair, music, and language all varied widely. Some knelt, some bowed, some ate meat, some put flowers on tickly cows. Some revered elders who passed through the crowds in bullet-proof golf carts, others adored bejeweled gurus who rode painted elephants. Some worshipped living gods incarnate, others prayed to statues and icons of long-dead prophets.
But pope-mobiles and painted elephants aside, they all essentially agreed on the same core principles:
Play nice in the sandbox
Don’t hurt people
Share your toys
Believe in something greater than yourself
And although my search for the One True Religion didn’t pan out – in some ways, i was frustrated by not being handed a cookie-cutter recipe for peace and happiness – i was also relieved i didn’t have to live my
life in someone else’s clothes. i could wear my own. In fact, i could even MAKE my own to wear. (oh wow i love Project
Runway so much!) This brought me peace. And, as long as i followed these four core concepts, i was going to move through the world in a loving and respectful way without hurting anyone.
Except maybe myself.
(Oh Gravity! i hate you so much! i WILL one day defeat you!)
i happily returned to my laughing crows and tickly cows, and now that i’m an adult (sometimes) and living far away from country roads and green woods, i carry them with me all the time in my heart and can visit them anytime.
And, i have discovered, a big city full of a million people can’t keep nature out. There’s a heron that hunts frogs in the concrete “creek” right next to our condo. A friendly raccoon likes to come at night to eat the food we put out for the feral cats. Crows are opportunistic creatures and happily live in the city, laughing at me from streetlight wires and gleefully tearing up trash they stole from dumpsters to find treasures.
And the moon still follows me.