Find The Jesus Toast

I never make fun of those people who claim to see Jesus on a piece of toast or in the folds of some funky kind of summer squash. When they post photos of the holy breakfast item preserved on a make-shift altar above their TVs or kitchens inks, I say, more power to you. Likewise, you notice an image of the Virgin Mary in the rust on your Chevy Impala, what a marvel, I say. Though I have always wondered why it’s the Christian folk that pop up in these unlikely places and not, for instance, smiling Buddha winking at you from the foam on your latte. I suppose you’re in the spotlight for a few thousand years and you get use to grabbing headlines. But I don’t discount these happenings because I think faith and belief are two sides of the same coin. That’s money I want in my pocket.

 

A few months ago FOX gifted a generation of fans with a six-episode return of the X-Files. Getting to watch Scully and Mulder reignite their screen chemistry poking around in shadowy, underground missile silos and chasing down people with bizarre, supernatural powers in the name of uncovering THE TRUTH nearly sent me into a massive coronary of nerd happiness. Besides mooning over David Duchovony’s pouty lips and boyish everything, what I always really enjoyed was the existential push-pull between Mulder’s faith in the extraordinary and Scully’s stalwart insistence on scientific certainty. He saw the messiah in the toast; she saw the defective technology that produced irregular patterns in the bread. But it was more than just a plot or character device, it was a real crisis of soul, which as the series evolved tested both agents, breaking down their limitations, and throwing these questions back out at viewers—where does truth end and faith begin? Can’t they be one and the same?

“I want to believe,” Mulder intoned again and again, his own personal mantra. But what he really meant, I think, was “I want you to believe with me.” And I think that’s what a lot of us want, to feel less alone, to know that when what we can see and touch and count on fails us there is another set of hands to grasp in our own.

***

There’s summer property that has belonged to my family for several generations, a beautiful piece of land that rests on a small lake. The lake is only about a mile long. A dam squats at one end while the other end branches out into marsh to form reedy fingers of estuary where Loons nest and people trawl quietly in kyaks and canoes. Every fall the town lowers the lake so that the shoreline around our waterfront becomes a sprawling network of sandbars, ice, and water.

This place is more than just a return-to-nature-get-away with the lake, the surrounding woods, the night sky immune to the smudge of light pollution—it’s also a personal touchstone. My father spent most of his boyhood and adulthood here; it was where he got to visit the best parts of himself, the ones he squirreled away from the rest of us, it was where he could actually be himself. When he passed we scattered his ashes in the lake. He was as complicated as the rest of us and a mystery I’m still trying to solve after all these years.

I visit often, but I search even more frequently for something to move me, for that charge that comes when you cross paths with the nearly imperceptible. Mulder, I want to believe.

The air was cold, but laced with early spring sweetness when I went for a walk on those sand flats. The sky was the color of faded blue gingham. One of the dogs had followed me down and raced around through the streams of frigid water coursing through the mud. From a distance I could see that someone had piled a bunch of stones like the cairns hikers use to mark trails. Our place is surrounded by thick conservation land and not accessible when the lake is full, but it’s possible that someone might have hiked the neighboring trail that runs parallel to our place and continued walking out onto the lake bed.

I walked closer. The sand was undisturbed save for a couple of tracks made by the dog. I came within three feet of the stones and saw that someone had drawn an “S” in the sand. That was it. No hearts, no smiley faces or stick figure families a child might draw. Just the one letter. No footprints except the few I had made shuffling around the etching.

sand

Belief is risky business. It is a white-knuckle ride on a half-finished roller coaster. It’s easy to mock the Jesus toast because that requires barely anything of us and gives us permission to remain unchanged. What struck me most about the X-Files reboot was the way that Scully, despite her staunch allegiance to science, seemed to embrace uncertainty, to stand closer with Mulder on the common ground that there is more than just the truth “out there.” There is a lot more, in fact, if you’re open to knowing it.

 

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13 thoughts on “Find The Jesus Toast

  1. This gave me the chills to read. I love your observations about the X-Files. People definitely don’t want to be alone and I’m definitely going through this as well. I was just talking about wanting to go to church with a friend yesterday!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Lexes! Thanks so much…I think you’re right that we often curb our spidey sense because we think it’s odd, when really it’s the most natural thing happening! If you’re “feeling” the church thing, go for it..don’t cut yourself off from your source 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Belief is risky but makes life worth living! I know this is not a “Christian” blog, but every time I read one of your posts I can hear your faith. I gave my life to Jesus about 17 years ago and I’ve been through a-lot since then. It’s my faith that’s kept me in those difficult times and faith that brought me out to the other side. In the beginning of my walk with Christ I would experience little strange occurrences that appeared to be coincidences. Later, I realized they were invitations to (go deeper) experience God in relationship through His son. It sounds like you’re being invited! God bless!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks rezell and thanks for sharing your journey here…I think we all want to walk hand in hand with something that brings us strength, love, and comfort. I know my heart and mind is wide open! Peace & light to you! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sheila, the journey has been most interesting! As I said before, no coincidences…I originally joined your blog (and others) as a result of enrolling in the WordPress Blogging course. Didn’t complete the course, unsubscribed from the other Blogs, but continued to read yours. I found it very interesting that our experiences were similar. I have a Ph.D. in Special Ed and taught in higher ed for years. This past August I took leave from the university and finally resigned December 31, 2015, knowing God has a plan (big leap of faith). Although, I can’t see all of what’s ahead of me, I am trusting him to fulfill the purpose He has for my life (Jeremiah 29:11).

        I am sincerely excited for you right now because He is opening a door to you for an intimate relationship with Him. Please accept! A relationship with Jesus is more than what I could have ever hoped for. If you keep calling out to Him, He will definitely answer you (Hebrews 11:6). Be tremendously blessed!

        Sincerely,
        Racquel

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Like the reader above, Sheila, I got chills reading this. Faith is a risky thing for sure, and I feel the same way you do about the people who see faces in toast, etc. They’re not doing any harm, and who’s to say they’re wrong? The longer I live, the more often I hear about things that give me reason to believe there really is a lot of truth that we don’t understand. But I don’t think it’s “out there”–I think it’s right here around us. Like your sand S.

    I also think it takes a certain degree of maturity to see the beauty and mystery in that. If my daughter read this story, she’d most likely say it was creepy. But I see beauty, and wonder, and perhaps just the smallest opening into the whole mystery of life. Thanks so much for sharing, and thank you for giving me another reason to believe today.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mary: You are amazing. Thank you so much for so much..you know? It is a tightrope walk..belief, faith…when it gets twisted around into something negative it’s even more complicated…but I think you’re right ultimately: I think we’re having an active relationship with the Whatever, so it’s as much right at our fingertips as it is in trees and other people and rocks and surf and all of it. Something to think about for sure. X!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. As someone interested in patterns most of this life I am aware of trying to squeeze “reality” into previous experience. I have created birds out of golf clubs and from links of chain wrapped around a random rock, discerned female figures from ink blots, noticed that when my toilet seat cover is raised it gapes at me with an open mouth. I play with ink blots and oxidized surfaces to see castles and dinosaurs and angels. When I close my eyes the random light patterns diffused behind my lids have resolved into lobster-like blue creatures at the controls of an interstellar craft sailing through galaxies. “Realty” is many things. Some are useful, some are entertaining, some seem to threaten and some simply are a puzzle.

    Liked by 1 person

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