Finding Jesus in England

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photo by author

If Jesus really had come back, wouldn’t he stay a while? Set up a carpentry shop somewhere in Bethlehem and live quietly there, making pita and salad in his flat, showing the wounds in his hands to the little ones who crowd his door, and turning water to wine to serve the drop-in guests who have one quick question about Paradise?

My husband, my 11-month-old, and I are standing before a Christian children’s souvenir store called “Shalom: The Rainbow Shop,” in the village of Bourton-on-the-Water. The baby is making noises like a raptor and eating her hat. We recently arrived in the British countryside from Vilnius, Lithuania, and are still adjusting to the transition from East to West. Kipling, that most English of poets, wrote, “East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet.” What would he make of this mash-up of religions, a display with the same blue-and-white china seder plate that my family has used for 30 years next to brightly colored crosses for kids?