“Today we speak of one of the seven sayings of a great teacher,” the dragonfly says. He circumvents the room before coming to rest on the desk in front of the new student. The dark-haired girl, whose clothes match her hair, nearly falls off her seat when the brilliant dragonfly transforms into our teacher.
“Did you have to do that?” Admitted Outsider says. “Is this the way it’s gonna be here — shock the students until they conform or drop out? Cuz, really, if that’s what this is all about, I’ll save you the trouble.”
“No trouble at all, my dear.”
Quiet snickers volley around the room at our teacher’s comment.
Teacher swings his legs around and leaps off her desk like a Russian ballerina. “We do not try to shock here. Maybe a little awe, but no shock!”
The laughter follows him as he climbs the steps toward his stage until he settles onto the stool behind the lectern.
“Today’s lecture is a serious one, dear students, and it comes at a somber time to many on Earth. This is the season when some of your people remember the sacrifice of another teacher. Many know him as The Master Teacher – ”
“Ya mean Jesus?” the new student speaks up. “Cuz I got that shit pounded into me in bible school and I’m over that phase. All my college profs proved He doesn’t exist. He’s not real.”
Around them, the classroom has gone silent. Some of us, those who never stopped believing and those who have accepted a new definition, stifled gasps at the irreverence of this new version of our Irreverent Student, who has been struck mute by her sauciness.
Our teacher is not disturbed by this student’s confusion.
“Your professors have taught you to question.” He slips off the jacket of his indigo Dress Blues and methodically rolls up the sleeves of his iridescent purple dress shirt which I have only just now noticed. “That is a good quality for a soldier to have if we are to battle – ”
“— I am not a soldier,” she slams her fists on her desk.
“Of course, of course. Let me continue my lesson, my dear.” He walks around the stage as he tells us about this Master Teacher who taught humans the importance of love and forgiveness but was shamelessly attacked for his goodness. “He is known by many names, I call him Jesus because He is my friend.”
He looks toward the new student, who has focused her attention on the care and management of the nail beds on her left hand. Shaking his head, he lowers the lights until the room is pitch-black. It seems as if even the day outside has turned to night. The only light is a spot of white that follows Teacher as he moves.
“It is never wrong to question, but always keep an open mind. If you are not, as you say, a Christian Soldier, there is room in the Universe for people like you, but there is never room for people with closed minds, for, really, where is the harm in believing that there was once, a very long time ago, a very good man who taught great lessons even as He fought for his final breath?”
Teacher seems to have taken a personal interest in this lecture.
“That day, so very long ago, as He hung bruised and beaten in front of the people for whom he dedicated His life. Instead of condemning, as many would do now, He forgave. And, when a sinful man ridiculed him even as his own life was waning, Jesus found comfort in the words of another stranger who asked to be remembered when He comes into His Kingdom. That thief had not been a ‘Christian Soldier’, as you say. He was just a man with an open mind.”
The spotlight on our teacher widens to cover the entire stage. A heavy feeling comes over me, as if something very sad is about to happen. Tears track down my face in anticipation.
Teacher bows his head, his voice barely above a whisper, “Do you know what Jesus said to this penitent thief?”
The silence seems fitting for this moment.
“Truly, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
The spotlight swings around to the owner of the voice, her voice as tender as the sentiment. Admitted Outsider, suddenly aware that all eyes are on her, wipes her eyes with the back of her hand and bolts upright in her seat, prepared to explain herself. “It’s just not accepted in the places where I lived. Being a Christian Soldier was seen as a weakness.”
“And now you can identify with the Penitent Thief.” With a flick of his wrist, the lights come back on and the spotlight disappears. “Human life is difficult, but faith, even quiet faith, is as the strongest weapon any man can have. Jesus did not teach war or hatred. He did not claim to be the only way. He did not damn those who wouldn’t believe He might have known a better path to a Blessed world. He preached love and acceptance. Despite the harm that was done Him, He remained forgiving and accepting.”
“That’s a damn good lesson to teach.” He drops into the leather chair at his desk. “Class dismissed.”
Until next class, dear friends.
The Dragonfly’s ever-faithful Student