“So, Ok, Jesus, here I am on another sunny morning, looking at our tree garden where most of the leaves are hanging downwards, and many of them yellowing and dropping off. It’s the lack of rain combined with the sandyness of our soil; they’re just not getting enough nourishment; they look old. And talking of old, I’m trying to decide if I should push my 80 year old body to do my 12 -sprint interval training at the football field, or just some floor exercise here at home. Maybe I’ll go to the field later…
“One of the few benefits of being killed at 33 is that you don’t have to deal with old age. All my knowledge of it is second hand. How do you find it?”
“I won’t moan; I’ve been lucky; no major illness or disability. It’s the mental side of it that sucks.”
“Aye, one sign of that might be talking to an invisible person such as you! No, there’s no dementia yet, but more what T S Eliot calls ‘the gifts reserved for age,” principally, “The rending pain of re-enactment of all that you have been and done.’ Lots of shame, lots. But I suppose seeing you were sinless you never felt regret or shame?”
“Who told you I was sinless?”
“St. Paul, I think, was it…?“
“ Yes, at least in passing, but probably you’re thinking of Hebrews where it says that I was ‘tempted in all ways as you are, only without sin.‘ Of course that writer never knew me in the flesh. Why do you imagine I went to be baptised by John along with my fellow sinners? You think I was pretending? And you know I called a Canaanite woman a dog; do you think that’s not sinful? I’m not sure if you can be human without sin. So, regrets, I have a few, and shame. But cheer up, we only feel shame because we’ve changed, grown beyond the person we were. After all, it’s no good pretending to be perfect….
“Funny you should say that. I was just reading about the candidates for leadership of the British Tory Party. There they are, having spent the last two years sharing the faults of Boris Johnson, but suddenly, in a flash, they’ve become perfect. Nothing to admit or apologise for. Certainly not! Everyone a winner! No shame at all for the past. But what do you think, Jesus, are you ‘ready for Rishi’?”
“I’m afraid my priorities are not theirs or maybe even yours. How do they treat the helpless strangers and the poor who have no food? But remember my experience of government is not yours. I’ve more in common with a citizen of Tibet, ruled by a world empire. There wasn’t a lot of democracy in the Roman Empire.”
“You think I should be grateful just to live under the rule of law, in a democratic state?”
“Grateful for Tories?”
“Grateful that you can get rid of them soon if you can persuade enough of your fellow citizens. But there is a genuine emergency that should grab your attention, now or sooner, regardless of who is in power.
“Global warming? What more do you want me to do? Food? I’m more or less vegan. Transport? My car is electric. Holidays? I don’t use planes. Politics? Last time I voted Green. But it seems to make no difference. Should I be chaining myself to roundabouts?
“These people are saying, how can you do normal things when the lives of your children, grandchildren, great grandchildren are at risk? Not to mention your brothers and sisters who happen to be animals, birds, fish, insects.”
“Perhaps God should be doing something, rather than taking a bystander role.”
“Don’t be so stupid as to think like some believers, that God will ‘protect his creation.’ We love this planet and its creatures, but it is not ‘creation.’ Look at the photos of the universe published by NASA this week. There are countless other worlds and creatures. We can only persuade living beings to protect life. If you don’t, then it may be God’s sad duty to use the death of your planet as a terrible warning to others.”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah. Remember Jesus, if you are Jesus, who I am. An 80 year old semi-retired church minister. In all honesty, what can I do about global warming? This planet’ll see me out, as we say in Scotland.“
“But I know from what you’ve said and done that you love this world and its inhabitants; that the way a goldfinch balances on a gorse bush gives you joy and reverence; the way the thin mist envelopes the ridge of a high hill leads you to praise. I know that you have often wondered if your love of the world is greater than your love of God. It would be a crime against yourself to do nothing. Besides, a real fight for the planet might be fun.
“You’re very persuasive.”
“I hope so.”