It was a cold dark night, almost midnight and the doors of her house were locked. She was eating popcorn and reading the Gospel of St. John, hoping for some inspiration. She was looking for something but she wasn’t sure what. Suddenly Jesus appeared and sat in the chair opposite her. She froze, recovered, shook her head, rubbed her eyes, looked away then looked back. He was still there. Then he said. ‘Got anything to eat?’
She reminded Him that this was what he did with His first disciples to reassure then He was real. ‘I was hungry,’ He said.
‘What’s that you are eating?’
‘It’s popcorn,’ she said as she passed the bowl to Jesus. ‘Try some, Lord,’ she said feeling ridiculous. Jesus lifted a piece and examined it like a skilled jeweller. ‘Great shape,’ He said, ‘each one just a little different. I like it.’ Jesus popped a piece in His mouth and chewed it carefully for a full minute before swallowing. She grabbed another handful. ‘Not enough salt.’ Said Jesus.
‘Salt isn’t good for you,’ said the disciple. ‘I was always one for a lot of salt. But I was wondering has anyone thought of putting butter on this stuff?. ‘It’s been done, she said, but butter isn’t good for you either.’
‘You’re a very careful person,’ said Jesus. She said thanks and offered Him some more. ‘No thanks,’ He said. She told Him He was the only person she had met who could only eat one piece of popcorn. ‘Of course, He said, that because I am God.’
She wanted to burst out laughing. But Jesus stroked His chin and said, ‘How come you munch it by the handful?’ ‘You spill a lot of it then have to pick it up a second time.’
She said, ‘Oh God, I known this would happen.’
‘Why does everyone say that when I’m around? Asked Jesus, a bit irked. ‘What did you know was going to happen?’
‘You notice everything and make remarks,’ she said.
‘Don’t you like being noticed?’
‘As a matter of fact I don’t.’
She closed her eyes and opened them and He was still there, smiling.
‘Why did you come here tonight?.
‘To teach you how to eat popcorn.’
She looked at the bowl and wondered if He was toying with her. He said, ‘I’m not toying with you. I always come to seek out what is lost, and when people are searching through my story at midnight like it was a medicine cabinet, it is usually a sign that they are lost’.
‘I’m not lost,’ she said a little too loudly. ‘You are.’ said Jesus.
Their eyes locked but she was the first to look away. ‘It’s just the mid life crisis, she said, it will pass in a couple of months,’
‘Is that what they’re calling temptation these days – a midlife crisis!’
She laughed in spite of herself and watched Jesus pick up a new piece of popcorn. She instinctively took a handful. They ate in silence. Then Jesus said to her with great gentleness, ‘You have been with me for a long time now and you’re wondering whether it is all worth it. You’re thinking of divorcing me quietly aren’t you?’
‘Not for the first time,’ she said.
Jesus said, ‘I knew this bank robber once who planned his next job with great precision. But when he got to the teller he lost his nerve and asked where the loos were.’
‘Are you saying I can’t finish what I started?’
‘I’m saying try more salt on your popcorn.’
‘Jesus, I’m going to be really honest with you. You walk too fast and I can’t keep up. I want to be a better disciple but it’s too difficult’.
‘You’re a perfect disciple. You love me because I’m large enough to betray. But I do not think you are happy in the land of mercy. I hope you will stick around until forgiving becomes easier’.
‘I will but only because I love you’. As she said this she suddenly relaxed.
‘I don’t think I know what I need to know’
‘You know enough’. He said.
‘All I know is that when I want you to go away, I don’t want you to go away’.
‘In heaven we call that East of Eden love,’ He said as the tears started to roll down his face. In imitation of her Lord she cried too. For a long time there were no words as loves silence drew them together.’
‘You know, said Jesus finally, that after Lazarus came back to life, he told me that what woke him up was the sound of my tears’.
‘I believe him,’ she said.
Jesus smiled and reached for a third piece of popcorn. She took one piece also. Jesus closed His eyes to better savour the flavour of the moment. She did likewise. When she opened her eyes, He was gone. But she felt so light and full of life that she knew where He had vanished to.

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