on Jesus, the Vision and the Man
I often wonder whether Jesus was a man of flesh and blood like ourselves, or a thought without a body, in the mind, or an idea that visits the vision of man.
Often it seems to me that he was but a dream dreamed by countless men and women at the same time in a sleep deeper than sleep and a dawn more serene than all dawns.
And it seems that in relating the dream, the one to the other, we began to deem it a reality that had indeed come to pass; and in giving it body of our fancy and a voice of our longing we made it a substance of our own substance.
But in truth he was not a dream. We knew him for three years and beheld him with open eyes in the high tide of noon. We touched his hands, and followed him from one place to another. We heard his discourses and witnessed his deeds. Think you that we were a thought seeking after more thought, or a dream in the region of dreams?
Great events always seem alien to our daily lives, though their nature may be rooted in our nature. But though they appear sudden in their coming and sudden in their passing, their true span is for years and for generations.
Jesus of Nazareth was himself the Great Event. That man whose father and mother and brothers we know, was himself a miracle wrought in Judea. Yea, all his own miracles, if placed at his feet, would not rise to the height of his ankles. And all the rivers of all the years shall not carry away our remembrance of him.
He was a mountain burning in the night, yet he was a soft glow beyond the hills. He was a tempest in the sky, yet he was a murmur in the mist of daybreak. He was a torrent pouring from the heights to the plains to destroy all things in his path. And he was like the laughter of children.
Every year I had waited for spring to visit this valley. I had waited for the lilies and the cyclamen, and then every year my soul had been saddened within me; for ever I longed to rejoice with the spring, yet I could not.
But when Jesus came to my seasons he was indeed a spring, and in him was the promise of all the years to come. He filled my heart with joy; and like the violets I grew, a shy thing, in the light of his coming. And now the changing seasons of worlds not yet ours shall not erase his loveliness from this, our world.
Nay, Jesus was not a phantom, nor a conception of the poets. He was man like yourself and myself. But only to sight and touch and hearing; in all other ways he was unlike us.
He was a man of joy; and it was upon the path of joy that he met the sorrows of all men. And it was from the high roofs of his sorrows that he beheld the joy of all men.
He saw visions that we did not see, and heard voices that we did not hear; and he spoke as if to invisible multitudes, and ofttimes he spoke through us to races yet unborn.
And Jesus was often alone. He was among us yet not one with us. He was upon earth, yet he was of the sky. And only in our aloneness may we visit the land of his aloneness.
He loved us with tender love. His heart was a winepress. You and I could approach with a cup and drink therefrom.
One thing I used to understand in Jesus: he would make merry with his listeners; he would tell jests and use plays upon words, and laugh with all the fullness of his heart, even when there were distances in his eyes and sadness in his voice. But I understand now.
I often think of the earth as a woman heavy with her first child. When Jesus was born, he was the first child. And when he died, he was the first man to die.
For did it not appear to you that the earth was stilled on that dark Friday, and the heavens were at war with the heavens? And felt you not when his face disappeared from our sight as if we were naught but memories in the mist?
Kahlil Gibran - from Jesus, the Son of Man, 1928
Drawing by Leonardo da Vinci