A collection of thematically connected short stories about Jesus in the modern world. In a world where Jesus has been largely marginalized, he walks among us noticed and unnoticed offering love and grace along the way to those in need.
These stories are humourous and humbling; poignant and positive. Our greates desire is to recognize Him among us. He is there.
“Jesus Buys a Pair of Tevas” appeared in the 2015 issue of Bacopa Literary Review.
By Amy Willoughby-Burle
He’s not envious, looking in the shop window at the colorful straps and thick rubber soles, but after 2000 years, a man could use a new pair of shoes.
“Jesus, right?” A man stops beside him on the street corner and asks.
“Yes,” Jesus says.
“I knew it,” the man says, jabbing his finger toward Jesus in triumph. “Great costume. So what’s your shtick?”
Jesus chuckles and thinks about breaking into a show tune refrain—maybe “What’s the Buzz,” he likes that one. He can almost see the whole Andrew Lloyd Webber production right here on the street corner. He’s not trying to be a superstar, but the songs are catchy.
“I save people,” Jesus says. “You know, show them the way the heaven. All that jazz.”
“Right on dude,” the man says, giving Jesus the “thumbs up. “You need a way to collect tips, dude,” the man says, taking off his ball cap and putting it at Jesus’ feet. “Don’t stand out here and do your thing for nothing.”
When the man leaves, Jesus picks up the hat and wiggles it onto his head. He looks at his reflection in the shoe store window. He toggles the bill back and forth to settle the hat better over his hair. He chuckles at himself; nicer than the last thing he wore on his head.
Jesus goes into the shoe store and wanders the aisles until a young salesgirl approaches.
“Looking at the Tevas?” she asks.
He nods. She looks at his feet and smiles.
“You’re rocking the Jesus sandals,” she says.
“Thank you,” he replies and the low timbre of his voice out loud inside the small store causes the other patrons to look up from their sneakers and platform heels toward the warm sound of his voice.
“Those,” Jesus says, pointing to an orange pair, stepping his game up a notch.
Despite his penchant for performing miracles, flashy isn’t really his thing. He just wants people to hear what he has to say. Isn’t that what everyone wants?
The girl watches as Jesus slips off his old sandals, her mouth makes a small circle of surprise when she sees the tops of his feet.
“I could find you another shoe,” she says, and points to the scars. “If you want to cover those up.”
“Oh, I don’t mind them,” Jesus says. “It was a long time ago.”
“So what did you do?” she asks and takes the orange Tevas out of the box and hands them to him.
“I let myself get nailed to a cross,” Jesus says—not to shock her, it’s just the answer to the question she asked.
“Oh my God,” she says. “Why would you do that?”
He smiles at her.
“I’ll take these,” he says and slips the new Tevas on his feet.
At the register, she rings in his purchase and he produces a hundred dollar bill from the hem of his sleeve. He doesn’t get very much of it back, but he doesn’t need it. He pushes the money across the counter to her.
“We aren’t allowed to take tips,” she says, even though she really needs the money. “But, thank you anyway.”
At home, the salesgirl lives with her ailing grandfather. She loves her grandfather—he is the only family she has ever known, but she sees the young girls in their stylish heels—the ones she sold to them—clicking their way across the downtown sidewalk and she laments a night out with friends. She was going to be a writer, a teacher, an artist. She was going to stay up late and out all evening at open mic nights and sitting in overstuffed, quirky armchairs drinking caffeinated coffee too late at night talking about books and stories and being alive. Instead she sells shoes.
“It’s nice of you to help out at home,” Jesus says, his eyes on her; comforting and sincere. “Your grandfather needs you. The rest of it will come to you in time.”
“I don’t mean to be ungrateful,” she says, turning her eyes from him. “I’m not ungrateful.”
The salesgirl looks at Jesus’ hand where it rest on the counter. She touches the scar; her fingers linger on his skin. She looks up at him and puts her hand on the Tevas box that now holds the pair of sandals he arrived in. “May I keep these?”
It’s an odd request, but he knows it isn’t really about the shoes.
“Of course,” he says. “Everything I have is yours.”