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Handicap Jesus

I saw Jesus today.

He was carrying a cross. I’m not speaking of decorative jewelry like a necklace or a brooch, nothing so ordinary. And he wasn’t on a street corner preaching to those passing by, begging without awareness to be relieved of their burdens. He wasn’t on a soapbox, His or anyone else’s.

Like I said, my Jesus was carrying a cross.

I think He was lost, in need of direction, but, you know. . .

I rounded a corner on my bike toward the end of my normal Saturday morning ride and there He was. It was the first morning in a long while where the sun was secluded, hidden behind clouds and a general mist that also made the morning feel quite cold. Fifty degrees in September in Denver used to be illegal. Now, unexpected weather thrusts at the extremes at odd times and is sprouting up all over like weeds and becoming the norm. But Jesus didn’t seem to notice or care. He wasn’t wearing lycra.

He was standing off to the side of the bike path in urban and somewhat upper class Parker, Colorado. He wore a sweatshirt and baggy jeans that were too long, bunched at the ankles. His hair was disheveled and peppered with grey. His sneakers were old. He peered at what I thought was a pocket size Bible held in his hands with god-like intensity. Could He have forgotten something? Maybe He was lost. The cross was leaning on his shoulder, its weight forced him to tilt in its direction, like stalks of wheat tilt and bow in the wind.

His cross was composed of six inch squared timber. At the juncture where east–west meets north–south there were large, right-angle metal plates with screws holding the beams in place and, presumably, capable of keeping Jesus, weighed down with His burdens and possibly ours, from breaking free and falling to the ground, and then encumbering Him with even greater burdens. When He was actually hanging from the cross, that is, not toting it around.

I first began to question the man’s identity when I looked down the cross to where I assumed it would be resting on the ground. To my surprise Jesus had screwed a wheel into the bottom of the plank of wood. It looked like a wheel to a desk chair, the kind you bang into the bottom after you’ve toted it home from Office Depot and ripped everything out of the bag, the kind that spins and swivels in every direction so you can motor around the office without having to walk or get up. Except it was larger, wheelbarrow size, and inflated. Regardless, Jesus was wheeling His burden around more than He carried it. I’m certain the cross, its mobility enhanced by the wheel or not, was still heavy and cumbersome. But come on, after 2,000 years you’d think the guy had grown some muscles and added enough endurance to do without the wheel. At least keep up the image, man.

Or, maybe He looked out upon humanity and decided we were more work than He imagined. He could be tired of being handicapped at every turn by our inability to progress in the ways He imagined. The wheel might make sense then. Even Handicap Jesus was could have second thoughts, or realize He’d gotten a raw deal. Consider this, 2,000 years on and we still push the lepers and whores away. We may define leper and whore differently today—homosexual, Muslim, illegals, colored people—but still the practice is anything but what He preached, and it’s spreading. Is it any surprise Handicap Jesus decided the burden was too much. Can’t save ‘em all, isn’t that the saying?

Before I slipped past Him on my bicycle I got another glimpse at what was in His hands, an iPhone with a map open. I looked at the face of the man as He peered at the phone. He was caucasian, scruffy faced and, in the typical American manifestation of the species, overweight. Maybe Jesus was overweight now, let Himself go these past few decades, too many carbs, too much gluten. I can’t say and I won’t judge Him. Historians of the day (pre-crucifixion) often described Him as short, bald-headed and ugly—we’re all suckers for the underdog, so, maybe—but there aren’t any photographs to corroborate this.

Saint Thomas Aquinas mansplained to everyone how beautiful Jesus really was, not just spiritually, which is a given, but also physically. He wrote of Christ in the 13th century, so it’s doubtful he had any real knowledge of the man. Unless, of course, Aquinas happened onto Him as I did—alone on a secluded path with his phone camera packed away in the back pocket of his lycra jersey. Aquinas never mentioned it. But we do know this, healthcare has gotten better—in most parts of the world, anyway—and Handicap Jesus may have metamorphosed into His American self by then. It’s possible.

I had slowed appreciably as I came upon Him. I slowed even more after viewing the perplexed expression on His face, which I have to say, wasn’t in any way angelic; bushy eyebrows, furrowed brow, sagging skin in the usual places. “Lost?” I asked, drifting past.

“Oh, no,” and He waved a hand of dismissal without looking my way.

I soldiered on, stood up and pressed the pedals a little harder, motivating my bike past Handicap Jesus and His cross.

I decided minutes later as I was pulling up to my door that the man could very well be the real thing. I’d had time to think things through. We know, because I live in ‘merica, that Jesus was caucasian—WHITE—and incredibly discriminating of those He called friends. There were only twelve officially recognized apostles. And I’m certain He would be the sort to maintain His own cross. He was clearly a do-it-yourself kind of guy. Lowes was a short walk away to perhaps fix a broken bearing or missing bolt—just around the bend and across the street. Even with His burdens it wouldn’t take long. He was headed in the right direction. But if He were lost all He had to do was ask for help.

in category Life

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Tags for this article

jesus, 'merica, cross