For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west,
so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. Matthew 24:27
In the early 90’s I hitchhiked and wandered the Western U.S. for about two years. I made several huge circuits from Montana to Seattle, down Route 101 into California, across to Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, down into Texas as far south as Victoria then back north again as winter faded. Blissfully nomadic, I had wide open spaces in which to commune with God. It was a magnificent and, at times, delusional period of my poetic life. For a while I felt that I could live on black coffee, usually from the sample thermos in specialty stores, and bread (certain bakeries throw out delicious fresh baguettes if you are there in an auspicious moment: give us this day our… etc). Such a diet was conducive to visionary states, particularly when combined with obsessive Bible-reading. I sometimes felt like an apostle or a prophet. I probably had a vitamin deficiency too.
On my second sweep of the West, I hopped a freight train from Seattle bound for Portland, Oregon. Having misjudged how cold it would get perched on an open metal platform under the overhang of an oil tank while rolling over mountain passes at night, I jumped off when the train slowed down near Eugene and found a homeless shelter in that city.
In the shelter’s lounge area, mingling with an assortment of humanity ranging from the criminal and addicted to the harmlessly beatific, I waited for the beds to be assigned before the evening meal was served. It was the usual all-ages crowd of discharged mental patients, drunks of all ethnicities, crippled vets, junkies, convicts, meth-addled hippies and tattooed street anarchists with too many piercings. People were cadging cigarettes from one another, murmuring in derelict tones with a variety of accents. I had become used to such gatherings during my ongoing American road-trip. There was an open area outside this space in which smoking was permitted. Then I saw someone across the room, apart from the rest.
He was wearing a heavy white robe. He looked like Jesus. He stood out. He was barefoot and authentically weather-beaten; intense. No one else was near him and they seemed to swirl away from him as if invisibly repelled. I watched the strange figure from a short distance. He certainly seemed interesting to me, after all it is not every day one meets Christ Himself at the local homeless shelter…
It occurred to me in a flash: Maybe the others can’t see him. Maybe only I am able to see him.
He remained aloof on the far side of the room. No one engaged him in conversation. I decided to walk over and find out if he was a celestial apparition or not. I can’t remember what I said to the robed stranger. I probably questioned him about the shelter, asked when dinner would be served or something similar. He was neither overly friendly, nor hostile. Very cool and serene. I introduced myself and asked for his name. His eyes held liquid fire.
My name is James, he replied.
A long silence ensued.
My thoughts began spiraling: So… I can see and interact with this person but no one else can? God has sent the Apostle James down from heaven to this homeless shelter but only I am able to perceive his beatific presence, because the rest of these occupants are not seeking God. He is my guardian spirit here among the sinful riff-raff of this shelter… he may have a message for me from the Lord, etc. etc.
People were still flowing around and away from us. I thought: maybe now that I am within the orbit of this wanderer, I too have become invisible.
We remained a minute longer, apart from the milling multitude of people filling the small space of the shelter recreation area. James turned to me and suddenly said in a polite and slightly businesslike manner:
Well, if you don’t mind, I think I’ll step outside for a cigarette.
It was so out of character for a resurrected apostle. I was taken aback. Still, the Apostle James can do whatever he wants. Who am I to judge him for wanting a smoke? The robed barefoot stranger took his leave and headed to the smoker’s patio outside. I don’t recall seeing him in the shelter after that.
I gradually came down from my biblical delirium and realized it was all in my head. I found out later that most of these fake apostles of God were speedfreak burnouts from the cult of one Charles McHugh, known to his robed disciples as “Jesus lightning Amen”
Re: The Christ Family