As a child I had memories of many places, people, things from the time I was aware. I would see all sorts of things in my head and I didn’t know, at the time, that they were memories of past lives. To me, they were just in my head. Some were colorful, some were thrilling, some smelled funny, but most were comforting. I knew they were real because I could remember tiny details, like the feel of the water or breeze on my face, the sound of blowing flags, fresh warm bread, or emotions that came with the sound of certain things or people. I spent quite a bit of time inside my head. Teachers and parents around me called me thoughtful and I liked that. Around age 5ish, my small family went to the local church to attend Sunday School. I always enjoyed the stories of the Bible and sometimes the stories reminded me of places or people or food.
One Sunday, one of the stories rang a bell inside of me and the word “Nazareth” was shining brightly before my mind’s eye. It sent chills down my spine and I thought I remembered something very important that happened there. The Sunday School teachers started talking about Nazareth, Jesus and his followers. That’s when the initial memory resonated inside of me, and quickly waves of memories came flooding into my mind. The Sunday School teachers were saying things that just didn’t feel right. I can’t explain that feeling, but it did not feel right. I told my teacher that what they were saying wasn’t all the truth. The teachers looked down at me and asked how would I know that? I did not have the vocabulary to tell them what was in my mind or heart. I stood innocently looking up, expecting them to listen, expecting them to understand, but they had mad faces. She grabbed my arm, hard, and promptly took me to my parents who were informed to never return, because I would cause the other children to be confused. My whole family was banished from the little church. As both of my parents crossed their arms and looked down at me, I had my first lesson in keeping quiet and I wanted to go home. That night as I lay in bed I thought about the memory that was dredged up by the teacher’s words earlier at Sunday School. Nazareth. Nazareth. I was suddenly back in that time in my mind’s eye in Nazareth. I was aware that I was a small boy, a street orphan, hiding in the shadows for safety. On this day, I peeked around the corner to see a tall, striking man who I had never seen before walking towards me with a large group of men following him. I was aware of the sound of the streets, the smell of animals and wagons, the mid-day sun, the wind that came around the corner where I hid, and the sight of this striking man walking towards me. He had a flowing robe that was the color of sand. Men scurried to keep up, chattering away and I secretly followed along hidden in the shadows. I followed them to the edge of town where he met with a big gathering of town people, all sitting under the shade of a huge tree with long out stretched branches, like big arms. His voice resonated on the wind and I leaned forward trying to make out any of his words. I was just barely able to hear a few words, which were “My Children” when I was abruptly grabbed from behind and held up in the air, by a bad man shouting about a street heathen. I was so afraid as he dangled me in the air by one foot. Behind me I heard that same resonating voice of the striking man and he was instructing the bad man to put me down. He told the bad man I was a “Child of God”. I was confused because I had no relatives named God, actually I had no relatives at all. I had no idea who this man named God could be, but if he wanted to claim me as his child and save me from this bad man, I was ok with that. The bad man turned me towards him, his eyes glared at me, my eyes squeezed tightly shut expecting the worst, but he set me down, and for a moment I stood there. The kind, striking man spoke to the crowd stating in that wonderful resonating voice “that we were all Children of God in His eyes and that we must love one another.” I looked at the kind man and his eyes were mesmerizing. I looked at the bad man and his eyes tore through me. I looked at the crowd and felt all the eyes on me. I stood for a moment feeling all their eyes and I felt very small. Suddenly fear swept through me, so I turned and ran. I ran as fast as my small legs would carry me, past the crowd, up the hill, towards the shadows and when I got to the top of the small hill, I stopped to look back. The kind man had his eyes on me, he had followed me up the hill. I stopped, catching my breath, and our eyes met, they were loving patient eyes, and I paused for a short moment, before I ran into the shadows. This moment in time has since become burned into my memory, all the tiny details of that brief encounter are crystal clear in my mind, down to the smallest details, even the design on His robes and the stench of the bad man. I was convinced that the Sunday School teachers would never understand and I myself wasn’t even sure what this memory was. I only knew that it was real, very real, and that Nazareth was real, that the kind man was real, and that I loved Him and I would follow him anywhere . . . later I would learn he was Jesus . . .