“You’re a talented chef,” said Jesus, picking up the last dish from the draining board. “Thank you for cooking for us, Bull.”
“Excellent flavours,” agreed Sylvia. “We’ll leave you guys to it.”
Jesus nodded, smiling warmly at Thomas’ team who had come back together for the end of jubilee feast. The others slipped away to enjoy Zion, leaving Thomas and Bull with Jesus for an evaluation of the last fifty years. Jesus poured some fresh lemonade into glasses on a tray.
“Let’s go into the sitting room,” he said. Bull and Thomas put the last of the clean crockery away and followed him.
“Tell me Jesus, what was your thinking with putting Angush where you did?” asked Bull, still perplexed after a whole Jubilee living in community with them.
Jesus smiled and quickly sucked some butter off his thumb. “Angush had a heart that was still complicit with evil. He needed to be confronted by his peers – men who came from a similarly violent background. In the first jubilee, Yuri demonstrated that he was still attached to violence, and delighted in the suffering of others. Remember when Cedric had to intervene?”
Thomas and Bull nodded.
“The only way he could get to understand his own heart was to meet someone more attached to evil than himself. It was in looking at Angush’s heart that Yuri began to see that deep down, he was disgusted by what he had done in the Previous Age. He felt angry about the injustice that Angush had perpetrated. This began to tell Yuri a new story about who he was in his own eyes. He began to see who he could be.”
“And Angush?” asked Bull.
“Angush had never once been challenged over what he did. After Yuri began to stand up to him, Angush quickly began to deconstruct his own narrative. He was used to being liked by others and laughed along with, but…”
“…but,” continued Thomas, “when the other men began to call out his attitude and the laughter stopped, he began to ask who he really is, and what his life was about.”
“He became very withdrawn and quiet when even his friends turned against him,” remarked Bull.
“Angush and Yuri were a mirror to one another,” said Jesus. “I didn’t plan the exact course of action that occurred, but when mirrors are held up, there is often confrontation. Angush will begin the next Jubilee in a small group, with other men who perpetrated sexual abuse of children. As yet they cannot recognise their abuse because they refuse to feel what the victims felt. Eventually, these mirrors and flashbacks will begin to break their defences.”
Jesus continued. “Sometimes it’s not till the individual is in the thick of a new community that the circumstances are such that any maturing can begin. I don’t always know exactly how it’ll begin, but I know the divine image within everyone is being uncovered over these jubilees as they unfold. How is Yuri?”
“Yuri was uncomfortable with being hailed a hero by most of the other men. He stabbed Angush in the eye out of pure disgust, which was something many others there had felt toward Angush and his revelling in his trafficking of children. They wanted to make him leader of their community, but Yuri suggested the committee system that he had seen at work in the first jubilee. They began to organise this way and Yuri deemed it best to keep his head down and work on the buildings. After a while he came to us to process his turmoil that was emerging. He was sorry for stabbing Angush, and this had triggered him rethinking his entire life in the Previous Age. He’s still stubborn, but he’s quieter now,” reported Thomas.
“He took his turn when his name was picked for committee and did his best to help the other men care for their animals. Because he was one of the first to be given a resurrected companion, he felt some healthy pride in helping the other men care for theirs,” added Bull.
“Gulag was always going to be a key in unlocking Yuri,” said Jesus. “Pets are just perfect for this!”
“Angush was prouder than anyone I’d ever met,” said Thomas. “His experience seemed to make him double down on his destructive attitude, even after the 50 years of this Jubilee, we left him as an embittered and lonely man in the community.”
“The more doubled-down someone becomes, the higher the likelihood is that their next environment may unlock them,” said Jesus, with a glint of mischief in his eye. Jesus loved knowing that there was always a way to uncovering the divine image within each human being. “You see, my environments are tailor made to challenge each emotional, mental and spiritual stronghold that was built in the Previous Age. The longer someone resists, the more likely it is that their next Jubilee will see a breakthrough.”
“That’s just the odds though?” asked Thomas.
Jesus chuckled, “Ah Thomas, I do love the way you require truth. You could look at it that way, and there is nothing wrong with that. However, Ruach and I have designed this Age to be one where each stronghold is identified by the individual. As you know, we do not do any direct condemnation. It is the person’s own conscience that begins to accept the challenge to their paradigms and perceptions. Where Angush has decided to push back against the condemnation of his attitude and actions in the Previous Age from the rest of the community, he has only become more aware of how unacceptable his behaviour was to others. This is something he was never aware of in the Previous Age. He has begun to see how his choices have placed him in the ‘outer darkness’, outside of community. That is why he is lonely. He is embittered and resentful that he should be challenged.”
“When will he start to feel empathy for his victims?” asked Bull.
“Anyone imprisoned in their own pride refuses to acknowledge the suffering of others until they have truly suffered themselves. That’s why there must come an end point of the construct they perceive as their ‘self’. That’s a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth. It is experienced as a second type of dying. The end of all the false ideas about a ‘self’. It is the destruction of all that they did that is worthless, and for some, that’s nearly the whole of their life so far. All truth is in God, and God is Agape love. Unless a person is growing from this reality, they are growing from a lie, and that is a kind of death – because the Life of the Ages is only within divine, Agape Love.”
“This is why Yuri is turning a corner,” said Thomas. “He is beginning to reject the lies. He used to believe it was necessary to sacrifice another person’s life for him to survive. In his encounter with Angush, he has come to see that some have sacrificed others for no other reason than greed. It wasn’t about survival for Angush – there was a sick pleasure in doing what he did that Yuri and the others in his community found repulsive.”
“Exactly,” said Jesus. “Yuri is beginning to understand that what he did was based out of an inbuilt desire to survive. Yes, it was an extremely twisted desire, in that his method was to literally kill off any threat to his survival. However, he is now questioning everything he thought about justice, and is at the very beginning of having something of an understanding about himself.”
“And what will Angush’s journey be?” asked Bull.
“Angush must come to understand that his inability to recognise the suffering of others came from culture of his wealthy family. He was told from the youngest age that his family must be rich and powerful, and that this is only possible in exploiting others. Emotions were seen as a weakness and physically beaten out of all the family members. Crying was met with punishment. The only emotion encouraged was a delight in wealth, which created a total disassociation from those lives beyond the walls of the family compound.
He is now experiencing the pain of rejection, where all the pushing away of feelings for other people only reaps alienation. He will have to learn to accept these difficult feelings before he can appreciate that other people feel the same way, too. Again, in the giving and receiving of empathy, he will begin to understand what he perpetrated in the Previous Age and then disown it.
He will see the bankruptcy of all that isn’t built on Agape Love. It may be that he comes running to the open arms of love faster than others do, because he has nothing left of any worth. He’s scratching around in the dust of his former value system. Once he finds grace in the eyes of another, even in his bitter anger, he will begin to open his heart. Loneliness often leads us to capitulate into the revelation of our true heldness. Sometimes when there are no other voices, one can sense the whisper of Ruach more clearly.”
“Could Yuri take longer to reach Zion than Angush, then?” asked Thomas.
“Yes, it’s possible. But his next environment is one where Yuri will be much more aware of what he thinks is fair and unfair, and he couldn’t have begun to understand issues of justice without having met Angush.”
The friends continued to discuss other people and matters from the community before Jesus bade Thomas and Bull farewell.
Next into the sitting room were Yvonne and Yan. Jesus fetched them water and suggested they move out to sit on the balcony. The view was stunning, reaching far across the landscape of Zion. Various clusters of buildings basked in the bright colours from the sky, and perfectly composed features, too many to count, were peppered across the vista.
The friends settled into comfortable seats around a small table and began to review the last Jubilee.
“Johan has made huge progress during the second jubilee in understanding the indoctrination of the fascist regime he grew up under,” said Yvonne. “He identified that some of his attitudes were programmed into his mind by his schooling and experience in the army. This has continued with an understanding being reached with those who assumed he was still a Nazi, because of which army he was in during the Second World War. Johan was courageous in confronting prejudice when it came back at him. He was able to show love and compassion toward his ‘accuser’ and help them to see their own deeply ingrained attitudes. They were both able to see that fondness for one’s home is different from nationalism and the disdain for other nationalities that goes with it.”
“Johan always had a sweet and tender heart. Many people caught in the depravity of war do,” said Jesus. “War has a way of crushing tenderness and hardening hearts, but it also exposes people to enough horror to know without doubt what destructive human tendencies can do, when unchecked. However, it gives many a readiness for embrace, reconciliation and peace in this Age, too. When so much is so obviously wrong, it can give a hunger and thirst for what is good and right that brings people toward Zion in fewer jubilees than others. It means that the suffering that war brought is not without a redemptive quality.”
Yan leaned forward. “I have a concern for Johan now,” he said. “He and Chester were almost never seen in the community after they found the history books. It was like we lost them to studying.”
“They found a key to understanding themselves, but sometimes that leads to a judgemental attitude toward those who don’t have that approach,” explained Jesus.
“Chester and Johan were known to overwhelm others in the community with their knowledge, and sometimes led to a breakdown in relationships,” continued Yan.
“They will both be in a place of fascination for a long time,” said Jesus. “That is both their personality and their calling. They could be great teachers of others as they mature. Patience with them will result in much progress over the next few Jubilees. They will both bare much fruit as the Age unfolds.”
“The most important thing is that they have let go of their hate, towards themselves, their experiences, and each other,” added Yvonne.
“Too much time in books and the pursuit of knowledge can lead people away from listening to Ruach,” Jesus warned. “It is important to encourage them in their meditation and contemplation. Books are wonderful, and the exchange of knowledge is vital, but only when people are rooted in Agape Love can it bring revelation to the human heart. How many times did people have knowledge of history in the Previous Age, and yet not learn it’s lessons?”
“New generations had the same desires as the last,” observed Yan. “And each generation assumed that they were immune to the same twisting of desire.”
“That was always a possibility in the process of multiplication,” Jesus replied. “Each generation felt the same pressures and insecurities. The desire to reproduce, and then to protect and to secure resources, were born anew into each generation across the world, in the Previous Age.”
“Now humankind has been released from some biological instincts, is letting go of psychological drives, and is coming into a deeper trust in Agape Love. Eventually the desires being developed within each individual will be in harmony, with themselves and one another,” mused Yan.
“Exactly,” agreed Jesus. “Just as it is within Zion, one day the knowledge of the glory of God will cover the whole Earth. Each person will bring their unique gifts to the bigger picture. Humanity will be complete. Just as a body needs each part, so will the totality of humanity needs each individual to be complete. No one is wasted, no one is left out or left behind. Every single life that was ever conceived has a place here.”
“Surely the learning will never cease,” laughed Yvonne.
“There is nothing like the human mind in the whole universe,” said Jesus. “The capacity for learning, understanding and creativity is vast. The universe is waiting for humans to come into full understanding of who they are as sons and daughters of Papa God. The fullness is growing, the revelation is dawning across the communities around New Earth.”
“And we are certainly seeing this with Johan and Chester,” smiled Yvonne.
Yan and Yvonne chatted excitedly to each other as they left Jesus’ house.
Next in to talk with Jesus were Harmony and Anne.
“I fancy a walk,” said Jesus. “Let’s go down to see the flamingos?”
Jesus, Harmony and Anne set off together, down a gentle incline with explosions of delightfully fragrant flowers either side of the path.
“I’m bursting with joy when I think of Adilah and Eshe,” said Harmony. “Those two are just so amazing!”
“They are,” laughed Jesus. “What are your thoughts on their journey?”
“They have processed a lot of their emotions with us,” she started. “There was a need to allow their anger and fear to be released. It took some time for them to trust that their abusers were not going to be able to reach them.”
“We saw many moments of healing and the restoration of trust. Sometimes there was an obvious breakthrough, sometimes it was almost imperceptible, but for the guidance of Ruach,” added Anne.
“Our women found much comfort and understanding as they shared their stories and their lives with one another,” said Harmony. “As different cultures began to mix, it brought new challenges. Sometimes personalities could clash, but these women were already very empathetic and with a little gentle guidance, they soon found connection with one another.”
“Towards the end of the Jubilee, Adilah was ready to spend time with men again. She had come to accept that it was possible for men to be gentle and kind. We helped her connect with memories of her father, who was a kind and gentle man. It has prepared her for meeting some men sometime in the future.”
“One of the major breakthroughs for Adilah came when she realised that physical harm is no longer something that can threaten your life or even your wellbeing,” continued Harmony. “There was a day when she was carrying a pile of clothes on one of the elevated walkways in the trees and tripped. She fell to the ground, far enough to break both of her arms and shatter her knee. She was in agony but only for a few minutes. Her resurrection body soon repaired itself and after that she felt a very strong surge in confidence. She knew nothing here could permanently hurt her, and all injuries would be healed.”
“Yes, she was remarkably different when I next saw her,” agreed Anne. “Similar events happened in my group, and it set people free from the tentativeness many had in the Previous Age. It’s not like everyone suddenly became risk adverse, but it just gave people a new joy in their bodies, knowing that nothing could maim or kill them.”
Jesus laughed. “This is one of the greatest freedoms people can come to on the New Earth. Our bodies here are agile, resilient and Papa has ensured that our cells, even our DNA, is made to last for The Ages to come. I also experienced this freedom when I was raised from death!”
“I have a question, Jesus?” said Anne. “Couldn’t Adilah meet her father when she meets men in the next community?”
“I’d like to hear what you think?” asked Jesus.
“Well,” said Anne. “Maybe she shouldn’t because, if Adilah didn’t first learn to trust other men, she’d only cleave to her dad again, and not mature as much as she needs to?”
“That’s right,” said Jesus. “It’s a hard thing to accept, but human relationships with parents can often mean that we default to a childlike connection with them. Especially if we lost them at a young age and in a traumatic way. Adilah needs to come into an equal relationship with men, where she relates to them neither as a father, or as an abuser. For her, and many like her, relating to men will need careful reconstruction.”
“Something tells me it won’t be long till she sees her parents again,” smiled Harmony.
“I think you’re right,” said Jesus. “I have made it so that her circumstances in the next Jubilee should prepare her very well. Those like Adilah, ‘the last’ that I always said would be first in the kingdom.”
“She’ll need time away from Eshe,” said Harmony. “It seems harsh, but for her to stand firm in her individual identity, she will need to separate from Eshe for a while.”
“I agree,” said Jesus. “It was right for her to share the first two jubilees with her sister. They went through so much together that they needed one another to be able to acclimatise to the New Earth. They will understand that they will see each other soon, but for a while they must discover life apart. No one in Zion is co-dependent in any way.
Adilah is going to be with some men in the next Jubilee, and I am sure she will continue to mature. Thank you for all your patience and care with her.”
“She was patient with me, too,” said Harmony.
“I know,” said Jesus with a wink.
By now the friends were by the edge of a wide and shallow lake. Scores of Flamingos were stood in the water. The friends stayed for a while, savouring the moment of profound peace, before heading back to Jesus’ house and discussing other matters from the community.
“Sylvia and Carlos! Come in!”
The two hugged Jesus and sat down, Jesus pouring out some fresh tea.
They were soon deep into their review of the last 50 years.
“It makes me so happy to know that Fran is letting go. That she would jump into a river like that tells me that she is beginning to allow herself to have fun.”
“She is one of the few,” said Sylvia. “Many of the other women are still sabotaging their own progress, as doing the internal work seems too hard!”
“Misery is the fruit of resentment,” sighed Jesus. “Resentment is a vicious circle in the human heart.”
“People become resentful that they are resentful, and then resentful that they are resentful that they are resentful, and on it goes,” said Carlos. “The men I have been living with are mostly the same.”
“For many in that place, it takes a moment of great courage to choose something other than resentment,” said Jesus. “The layers of resentment can be penetrated by just one moment of connection, laughter, joy…”
“It seems in jumping in the river, Fran chose joy and connection with Chan.”
“Chan then symbolised all that was good to Fran. Fran hassled Chan every single day, which eventually wore her out and she blocked Fran out; avoiding her as much as possible,” said Carlos. “When Fran realised this, she went straight back to resentment and hatred. In many ways it is worse than before as she now believes that she is cursed. She feels the episode with Chan makes a mockery of life on the New Earth.”
“I see,” said Jesus. “Once again, this is why the course of jubilees must run for as long as it takes for these lessons to be learned. It is sad that Fran couldn’t find someone else to try and bond with, but in a community full of women who are used to being isolated and bitter, it’s not so straightforward.”
“Chan did learn from her experience with Fran. Chan realised that she couldn’t continue to live as an island, only attracting one friend. She began to be friendly and more forthcoming with other women and it began to help her, and others build, a sense of community and connection with one another. Chan was initially unsure about friendship with non-Buddhists, especially after what happened with Fran, but she came to see that common courtesy every day with her neighbours helped build trust with them, and they with her. It was less intense and therefore more effective long term.”
“Trust takes time,” said Jesus. “People are so complex that when someone moves too quickly, putting all the eggs in one basket, it can be too much.”
“I am sure Chan will continue to grow in trust and connection with others,” said Carlos. “But what next for Fran?”
“Fran will go into another village. The only way forward for her and those like her is continuing to be placed in community with those who are similar. Some, like Chan, get to understand themselves through their relationships with others. It’s my hope that she will begin to have more self-awareness in the next Jubilee, but no one can force her to relinquish her deep certainty that she is right and that everyone else is wrong. She still feels entitled to control over her life, and that’s not inherently wrong.
She thinks that control looks like controlling others and keeping them away from her heart. She could take control of her life by choosing humility and admitting that she doesn’t know what’s best for her. Accepting our love for her and allowing others to love her could release her heart, but she will have to find the courage to love others as well.”
“There were so many potential friends in each community she’s been in,” said Sylvia. “But she just can’t forgive people like Imelda and Chan. She feels affronted by them.”
“Those from the affluent West often struggle to recognise that love is not a transaction. Unfailing love and acceptance are active choices, not a fluffy feeling or a trade,” said Jesus. “If she can’t wish the best for another person without it bringing her anything, she will languish in misery. But take heart! Every human recognises their need for Agape Love eventually. More with every jubilee that passes.”
“Ah, all this makes me wish I could just go to Fran and tell it like it is, but I know that it wouldn’t help,” said Carlos.
“That’s right,” said Jesus. “Telling Fran and people like her what to do only makes her resist change even more. That’s why it must be a combination of her own will, and circumstances that are designed to help people come to see the futility of any other way than Agape Love. It’s the Agape care solution.”
“It’s true for all of us,” said Carlos. “Even for those, like Thomas, who were with you when you first came in the Previous Age.”
“Behaviour comes from belief,” said Jesus. “But beliefs come from many conscious and sub-conscious influences. Agape Love will come into view for everyone. It is always selected, a choice to be chosen. That is what each community situation is designed to do; provide the experiences that make the choice more inviting.”
“So, there’s really only two outcomes, or directions, aren’t there?” asked Sylvia. “Fran can either accept what the confrontation exposes, or deny it?”
“In a sense that’s true,” Jesus replied, “but it can take time for the subconscious and conscious to align. Those in Zion, like you, have had their subconscious search for truth, goodness and beauty align with their conscious will to seek it. All humans have a built-in thirst for what is true, good, and beautiful. How they understand these things, and how they pursue them can be twisted and warped; but the subconscious is always looking for those things. When people come to recognise what is truly good and beautiful, it can take some time for their conscious will to accept the way these things are attained. People have to come to see their methods have been twisted, and then accept the path toward the better way.”
“The path of Agape Love, putting other’s needs alongside your own,” added Sylvia. “The way of empathy and forgiveness, of trust and patience.”
“Yes,” said Carlos. “It can feel alien for those who have only ever known self-serving and self-protecting instincts. Wrong, because it can feel so painfully vulnerable.”
“That’s partly why the cross I died on became such a powerful symbol,” said Jesus. “It was the consequence of being vulnerable – of loving people more than the religious traditions my tribe held so dear. I knew I had to continue to demonstrate true goodness and Agape Love, and I had to choose to overcome the urges in my body, so that people could recognise it, and trust in Papa. But it cost me my safety and comfort. I didn’t back down, so they killed me.”
“Even Fran will come to see that Agape is the only way,” said Sylvia. “I believe it, but there’s still so much dissonance within her.”
“Our love endures forever,” said Jesus with a smile. “Even if she makes her bed in her own personal hell, we will be with her. One day everyone will recognise the truth, goodness and beauty of love and will trust it with their whole heart. Let’s see what the next Jubilee brings!”
Sylvia and Carlos continued to review various aspects of life in the village. As evening drew on the rest of the team returned to Jesus’ house for a meal and time together, encouraging each other. They stayed in Zion for several weeks, resting and having fun, meeting up with friends and enjoying the scenery.