“Honey, I’m home,” Ray called from the living room, slamming the front door shut. I was in the kitchen cooking a skillet of hamburger helper for supper.
“I picked up a hitchhiker on the way home. Do we have enough for one more?” (This was in the days before cell phones, waaaaay before cell phones.)
”Sure,” I hollered back, used to feeding strangers, since Ray never passed a hitchhiker, this being the 1970’s when it wasn’t as hazardous as it is now to pick up a stranger. I was a little bit perplexed, though, as I knew he had ridden the motorcycle to work that morning because our car was broke down waiting for a payday to get fixed and we did live in the middle of nowhere on Lake Bistineau, 25 miles from any town. Who in the world would hitch a ride on the back of a motorcycle?
I opened a can of English peas and poured them in a pot to heat on the back stove burner and popped some canned biscuits in the oven before going to see who our surprise guest was.
I stopped dead in my tracks and just stared, speechless.
“Hello, there,” he said, “I’m Jesus. You can wash my feet if you want to.”
Still temporarily mute, I couldn’t resist the urge to look down at his feet. They were filthy.
I said, “You’re welcome to use the bathroom if you want to take a shower, but I think I’ll pass on the foot washing.” He took me up on the shower and Ray gave him an old robe and boxers to wear while I washed his sheet/robe. I took the biscuits out of the oven, buttered them, and put an extra plate, knife and fork on the table.
While Jesus was showering I laughingly asked Ray where he had picked this one up. He replied, “You’re not going to believe this,” but I urged him on.
“I was passing that little Assembly of God church that’s on the main drag there in town and this guy comes running out of the church’s front door waving wildly. I pulled over to see if there was some problem and he jumped on back of my motorcycle and said, ‘Hit it, dude, hit it!’ so I did. He told me he was Jesus and that he had been in the church blessing the place when a secretary saw him and said she was going to call the cops and that was why he came running out so fast.”
“Ooookay”, I said, giggling.
Ray continued (and this is pure Ray): “I wanted to test him, you know, to see if he might really be Jesus, so I opened up the motorcycle on that straight stretch of highway by the horse farm with the white painted fences. I know I hit 100 mph and Jesus didn’t even blink or hold on! The only words he uttered when I slowed down a bit were, "Cool, dude!”
“Hmmm, maybe he really is Jesus if you couldn’t scare him,” I replied sarcastically.
How could we say no? Who in their right mind would pass up the chance to even utter the sentence, ‘I got high with Jesus?' Not us! I mean, it was the 70’s and it was quite unsociable to refuse a toke, much like refusing a cocktail in the 50’s.
I put “Dark Side of the Moon” on and we sat, rapt, falling into the music. To this day I can’t hear Pink Floyd without recalling our visit with Jesus.
When supper was ready, I called April from Mama’s across the street to come home and eat. But Jesus said he didn’t eat meat, so I made him two peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. He then proceeded to lecture us on the dangers of eating meat and killing cows and other of his helpless creatures. He chided us both for wearing leather belts and shoes. I really felt ashamed for a minute or two.
He slept peacefully on our couch that night. I went to get his robe/sheet out of the dryer the following morning and discovered that the dryer wasn’t working---his robe was still wet. He said, “That’s okay, I don’t mind,” and proceeded to put his wet sheet on, and get on back of our Suzuki in the cold, damp morning air. Ray took him back to town on his way to work and dropped him off at a 7-11 at this request. His robe was dry by the time they got there.
We learned several weeks later by way of a newspaper article that ‘Jesus’ was really the son of a wealthy family and he had run away from a psychiatric halfway home. I often wonder what became of him, if he still thinks he’s Jesus. If Jesus came back today, do you think he’d be locked up and considered crazy? Probably.
The synchronistic, funny thing is that several years later we began attending that same church, the little Assembly of God where Ray picked up hitchhiking Jesus. The pastor and his wife and a group of church members were sitting around talking one day and someone said, “Do y’all remember the time that crazy man dressed in a sheet ran through the church and like to have scared us all to death?”
Ray and I just looked at each other and winked....