I leaped up from the couch and darted across the room. But a hand clasped my arm, halting me.
“Jaime, no! Wait!”
My body spun around, naturally torqued by my pinned arm. I met His eyes and—gasped. This was not the God I had just been speaking to. No—this man was much younger. His skin smooth. His body tight and agile. His eyes no longer guarded by lenses; yet still just as penetrating.
Cut it out, Jaime, I scolded myself. This is only a manifestation for your visually-bound benefit. Get past the physical appearances.
But the effects of the transformation were not lost on me. I could not help but refer to the man before me as “Jesus” instead of, simply, “God.” And—worse—He was undeniably handsome. I noticed my eyes resting upon Him—captivated—and I quickly diverted my gaze. His beauty was such that it made me ashamed and uncomfortable in my own skin.
Jesus’s grip loosened. His soft voice uttered my name again. “Please stay,” I heard Him plead. He took His hand from my arm and pushed back the hair I had been hiding behind. Goosebumps prickled my skin as He slowly smoothed the renegade strands behind my ear. Every sensory nerve focused its attention on this powerful presence before it—each undulation of His voice and graze of His touch.
“Jaime, will you listen to Me?” I looked away again.
“I can’t,” I replied, as I slowly began to turn from Him.
The firm hand returned to my arm. “Just trust Me,” He urged.
His words churned my stomach; my whole body wanted to close in on itself. I allowed my free arm to wrap protectively across my body, placing another barrier between myself and Jesus.
My response was barely a whisper: “I can’t.”
Jesus placed both hands upon my shoulders and turned me toward Himself. In its freedom, my other arm crossed over me, enclosing me into a cocoon—my head lowered, eyes nearly closed.
I felt Jesus’ eyes on me. I knew He wanted me to open up. But I can’t.
I heard her inner words, and my heart nearly rent in two. I pulled her into My arms, adding My cocoon around her own. I felt her body shaking; it was nearly imperceptible. Perhaps she could not even feel it herself. But I felt it.
The sensation of her pain sent shocks through Me. I felt blood and water trickle down My side. There was nothing more that I wanted to do than to simply hold her. So I did.
I don’t know why I let Him hold me. There was a part of me that screamed out against this man. He was dangerous. If I let myself be this vulnerable with Him, he would have every opportunity to destroy my fragile strength. And yet, there was something else in me that couldn’t resist—perhaps did not want to resist—the peacefulness emanating from Him. His peacefulness was palpable, and it radiated from Him in warm cords, drawing me near.
So I let Him pull me in. And I let Him hold me. For as long as it took.
After several minutes, her body released its tension. The shaking stopped and her heart slowed.
I pulled her from My arms and held her steadily in front of Me. She allowed her gaze to meet my own.
I was startled by the sharp intake of My own breath. Her eyes. It was always her eyes. The pale blue inviting Me in—asking for Me to get lost on their endless shores. If only I could make her understand . . .
“Jaime, I need you to know.” I felt her body tighten, but the shivers were still held at bay. “Please,” I pushed ahead—aware of the difficulties before Me—“Stay with Me and listen.”
She slowly nodded her assent.
And so, I began.
“Behold, you are beautiful, My love, behold, you are beautiful! Your eyes are doves behind your veil.” At the mention of her eyes, Jaime hid them from my sight. But her long, dark lashes only encouraged Me further. My gaze slid to her tumbling brown hair, caressing her face and shoulders.
“Your hair is like a flock of goats.”
Flock of goats?!
I had been about to pull away—the compliments becoming too much to bear—but the flock of goats stopped me in my (as of yet, unmade) tracks.
He’s a little old-fashioned, Jaime, I reminded myself, only barely stifling a much-needed laugh.
I felt her laugh. Not physically, but spiritually. I smiled to Myself. The rouse had worked. I needed her to let Me in.
I continued: “Your hair is like a flock of goats leaping down the slopes of Gilead. Your teeth are like a flock of shorn ewes.”
“That have come up from the washing.”
I watched her run her tongue across her teeth.
“All of which bear twins, and not one among them has lost its young. Your lips are like a scarlet thread.”
The smile disappeared from Jaime’s mouth. I knew I was pushing her, but I needed her to hear the truth. And not just hear it; but believe it.
“And your mouth is lovely.”
The blood began to drain from my face and fingers. My stomach soured. He’s getting too close, a voice hissed in my mind. The words—though still distinguishable—became hazy and distanced.
“Your cheeks are like halves of a pomegranate behind your veil. Your neck is like the tower of David, built in rows of stone; on it hang a thousand shields, all of them shields of warriors. Your two breasts are like two fawns, twins of a gazelle, that graze among the lilies.”
Darkness began to swell through my consciousness. The whirlwind of black lashed out at my mind, and icicles stabbed at my heart.
Jesus’ words were being swallowed up: “Until the day breathes and the shadows flee.”
It’s not possible! the voice screamed. I am gross! My cheeks are puffy. My breasts are puny. My belly is a muffin top. My butt too big. And my thighs too jiggley.
“I will go away to the mountain of myrrh and the hill of frankincense.”
My face gets spotted with pimples. Callouses cover my hands and feet. My hair is always tangled and in disarray.
Suddenly, Jesus’ words were crisp and clear: “You are altogether beautiful, My love; there is no flaw in you.”
My eyes flew open. “LIAR!” I screamed.
Red anger flashed over the regal blue of Jaime’s eyes. Although I was expecting this moment to come, the explosion still caused My hands, feet, and side to burn. The pain lodged My succedent words in My gaping mouth. Silence descended as I allowed My breathing to sync with Jaime’s.
I stared in horror at Jesus. He had stopped talking.
What have I done?
I felt the anger recede as my breathing synced with His, but it did nothing to still the fear that was spreading over me.
“I’m so sorry.” The words rushed from my mouth. I tried to pull myself away from Jesus. Every time I pulled my hands free, He would entangle them with His own. “I’m sorry. I—I—I don’t know—”
“Shhhhh,” Jesus tightened His grip, crossing my arms across each other to pin me against Himself. He lowered His head, positioning His mouth beside my ear. “Come with Me from Lebanon, my bride,” He whispered. My body yielded to the sound of His voice. I felt resistance slip from my power as He continued to speak.
“Come with Me from Lebanon. Depart from the peak of Amana, from the peak of Senir and Hermon.” As He spoke, He loosed His grip on me. He was now holding my hand, leading me forward, beckoning me to follow Him. My eyes focused on Him alone. “From the dens of lions, from the mountains of leopards.”
Suddenly, my eyes perceived what had materialized around us. We had somehow been transported to a lush garden. Voluptuous flowers surrounded us; a rainbow of exotic beauty that was foreign to me in both sight and smell. The garden was far from silent; it was filled with the trickle of water, the hum of bees, and the song of birds. An emerald green butterfly floated over my shoulder, and an iridescent blue dragonfly darted amongst the flowers nearby.
I returned my gaze to Jesus. He was staring at me; a smile dancing on his lips.
“You have captivated My heart, My sister, My bride; you have captivated My heart with one glance of your eyes, with one jewel of your necklace.”
I watched her blush as I mentioned her eyes a second time. She seemed to be glowing. I felt the vitality pulsing from her hand into My own. She is listening!
I continued: “How beautiful is your love, My sister, My bride!”
Jaime’s hand twitched. I knew her objection before she even spoke it.
“But my love is so broken—”
I placed my finger to her lips. “Trust Me,” I reminded her. She must not only hear, but believe.
I didn’t understand what Jesus was saying. I knew my love to be broken and prideful and—human. It is inadequate, I thought. It is not worthy of beauty.
But Jesus continued: “How much better is your love than wine, and the fragrance of your oils than any spice! Your lips drip nectar, My bride; honey and milk are under your tongue; the fragrance of your garments is like the fragrance of Lebanon.”
I don’t understand, I thought, running my tongue over my lips. Jesus squeezed my hand, pulling my attention back to Himself.
“A garden locked is My sister, My bride, a spring locked, a fountain sealed.” I allowed Jesus’s hand to direct my gaze around the garden, noticing the wall that surrounded it—enclosing its beauty within. My skin prickled. Is this garden actually—but my thoughts were cut off as Jesus continued speaking.
“Your shoots are an orchard of pomegranates with all choicest fruits.”
My focus shifted to spot a pomegranate hanging from a small tree behind Jesus’s right shoulder.
“Henna with nard, nard and saffron, calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense, myrrh and aloes, with all choice spices.”
Once again, my senses whiffed the exotic scents around me. Then a twinkling beyond the pomegranate tree caught my eye, and, behold—the spring.
“A garden fountain, a well of living water, and flowing streams from Lebanon.”
Suddenly, Jesus removed His hands from my body. As He raised them above His head, I felt my spirit rush up with them. Jesus angled His face toward the sky. “Awake, O north wind, and come, O south wind! Blow upon My garden, let its spices flow.” The wind obeyed His command and rushed toward and around us. The branches swayed, causing the rainbows of color to blend in their beauty. The hums of the insects and the songs of the birds and the trickle of the stream rose in their symphony with the wind. My spirit rose higher and higher. It was filled with fear—trembling and awe—and realization. I knew whose garden this was. I knew who this garden was. And I knew to whom the ending words of this song belonged. Jesus lowered His head to look at me. My breath caught. His eyes penetrated deep into my soul. In His gaze I saw my spirit—wanting to harmonize with the wind, the stream, the bees, the birds—but momentarily frozen, awaiting its liberation.
I closed my eyes and took a deep breath.
What are you waiting for? This time the voice in my head belonged to Jesus.
I opened my eyes. He was still staring intently at me.
I stared intently back. “Let My beloved come to His garden, and eat its choicest fruits.”
Jesus smiled, as my spirit danced toward the heavens.