The Story Of Esperanza Reyes: Chapter 11

Chapter 11

One day, an argument arose amove her friends as to which one was the greatest among them. As soon as Esperanza arrived, they suddenly fell quiet. She asked them, “What were you discussing before I got here?” She sat with them. They avoided eye contact and didn’t say anything. She shook her head sadly and said, “If you want to be the greatest, you have to be willing to be the worst and help all.” As they were gathered in a park there were children playing on a playground nearby. “See how they play together? They don’t hate. They don’t discriminate. They play with each other because they see each other for what they are, other kids. Unless you see your fellow human being as human, it will be difficult to bring about the Kingdom. If you love others like a child loves others, you have truly seen the Kingdom.”

John spoke up, “Teacher, we saw a man on YouTube curing addiction in your name, we left several comments telling him that it was your thing.” Esperanza turned to him with a twinkle in her eye and a small smile. “Don’t stop him. If he is doing good things in my name he wouldn’t be able to say bad things about me, would he? Those who aren’t actively fighting against us is for us. Really, if anyone gives you even a glass of water in my name they will be rewarded.

As they were walking through town one day a man said to her, “I will follow you wherever you go.” and Esperanza said to him,” Birds have nests, Foxes have holes, but I have no place to call my home. Suddenly crestfallen the man said, “Let me first go and bury my father.” She looked at him softly, “Let the dead bury their dead. I’ve come to give life and give it for the living.” After this, there was a gathering of new followers that was seemingly innumerable and quite diverse. They represented almost every nation, and every single label imaginable. She commissioned them and sent them out in groups of 2 to the cities of Texas so that all may hear that the Divine has not given up on them. She said to them. “Many are ready to hear that the Divine is here and loves without condition, but not many are ready to speak it. Go and share with people that love, by being that love. But be careful as many revel in the hate they claim to be against. They will disguise that hate as love, but it is not. I send you out as lambs among wolves. Be wise, be careful, and don’t let the bastards grind you down. Don’t take anything with you. Let those who greet you and take care of you, take care of you. Be a gracious guest in the places that welcome you. Show them love and kindness, as they are showing to you. Share the love of the Divine with them as they are doing so with you. When you come to a place that does not welcome you, let them know that Love is on its way. They should know that the Divine waits for them to realize this. You have planted a seed, but move on as they are suffering. Those that hear you, hear the Divine. Those that reject you reject the Divine.”

After Esperanza sent out the groups, she was approached by a lawyer. This lawyer was looking to trip her up as he was sent by the Jesuit priests and rabbis. He asked her, “Ms. Reyes, I was wondering, what do you believe to be the greatest law of all?” Esperanza looked at him and smiled. She said simply, “Love.” He asked her to explain. She said to him, “Love the Divine with all that you are and all that is within you. You do so by also showing love to those around you, and even yourself.” The lawyer said to her, “I see that you are correct.” She placed a hand on his shoulder and said, “Do this, and you will have life.” He, regaining his mental footing, asked, “Who are those around me that I should love?” Esperanza smiled yet again and replied, “Suppose a man was hitchhiking from Austin to Dallas. Let’s say he got into the wrong car and was mugged and left on the side of the interstate. Most drivers would not stop and would just pretend not to see the man beaten and bloody by the side of the road. Let’s suppose a priest was driving up that interstate, he would stop to help, but he was wearing his vestments and was late for a service so he changes lanes and drives on. How about a professor of law? Normally, he would stop and help, but this could be a trap. So he sends his thoughts and prayers to the man in case it is and changes lanes to drive on. But an illegal immigrant is driving up the interstate and spots the man. He pulls his vehicle over and gets out to help the man. He finds some towels in his truck and gives first aid the best that he is able to. He puts him in the passenger seat and drives him to the nearest hospital. Now, where the priest and professor this would only cost them some time, this man risks all that he has, even imprisonment to get this man help. At the hospital, he gives all the money that is in his wallet and gives his phone number for when the bill comes due. Which of these three displayed love of the Divine, do you imagine?” The lawyer said, “The one who showed mercy and kindness.” She again smiled and said, “Go and be like the immigrant.”

Esperanza was exhausted and went to stay with Mary and her sister Martha. Mary sat with Esperanza joking and laughing while Martha was preparing a meal and getting the house ready. Martha came into the room in a huff, “Mary! Do you not care that we have a guest and I’m doing all of this by myself? Esperanza, tell her to help me!” Esperanza bit back a laugh, got up and hugged Martha. “My dear friend, it’s okay. Really! I’m exhausted and I don’t need much. I don’t care about how something looks, I’m just happy to be with friends.” Martha calmed down and apologized, Mary got up and helped finish the meal. They all sat and ate and laughed that night.

<  Chapter 10  |  Chapter 12  >

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The Story of Esperanza Reyes: Chapter 10

Chapter 10

Esperanza called the group of twelve together. She taught them to cure addiction and free minds from the hells we put them through. She sent them out to teach about the Divine and the Divine’s love and to heal. She said to them, “Don’t take anything with you. Where ever you go be there. Be present where you are and with whom you are. When people refuse you and your lessons, don’t look back. It is their own problem. Wipe the dust from your feet as you go, for you did what you could.” The twelve went out and taught in different places about the Divine’s love, and healed people. They freed minds and cured addiction.

Now the governor of Texas heard of what was being done. This was following the imprisonment and execution of Juan the preacher. There were stories that these acts were done by Juan’s ghost back from the dead. Some had said it was Yeshua Ben-Yosef back to redirect us. The governor said, “Juan I had put to death; but who is this about whom I hear?” and he sought to see her.

When the twelve returned, they told Esperanza what they had done. She retreated with them to a city nearby. When the people heard where they were they followed. When she saw the crowd she welcomed them. She began teaching of the Divine’s love. She cured those who needed healing, just sat and talked with those who needed an ear, and taught some more. It got to be rather late in the evening and the twelve came to converse with her. “Send the crowd home, it’s getting late and they have to be hungry, we can’t have them all sleeping in this field.” She turned to them and said, “Don’t send them away hungry, let’s give them something to eat.” They replied, “We don’t have enough money at the moment to feed this crowd. There has to be more than 10,000 men, women, and children here. The most food we’ve seen is that family over there with three loaves of bread and two cans of tuna fish.” She said to them, “Have them sit down in groups of around 50 each.” The twelve did so. Esperanza asked the family for the food. She held it up and blessed it and began making tuna fish sandwiches. She started handing them to the twelve to distribute, as she did more and more people started pulling food from bags and distributing it to their groups and the groups around them. The crowd had enough food to go around and then some. They took up all the leftovers and had twelve buckets full after everyone ate their fill.

A short time later, Esperanza was off meditating on her own when the twelve met up with her. “What do people say about me?” she asked as they arrived. They answered, “Some are saying you are a student of Juan your cousin, some are calling you the second coming of Yeshua Ben-Yosef.” She looked at them, “What about you all, what do you say about me?” Peter looked at her sternly in the face, “You are the chosen one, the Messiah. The Daughter of the Divine.” She looked down weightily and told them not to tell anyone. She said, “The Messiah was meant to suffer many things. The Messiah is to be rejected by leaders, priests, and rabbis. The Messiah is meant to be killed…” She trailed off. Peter spoke up immediately, “No, that’s not true. That can’t be.” She looked up with tears in her eyes, “Stop, it is. People will not understand unless it happens this way. If anyone will follow me, they need to be willing to suffer and die every day for these truths. If you are only out to save your own life, what good does that do? If you are willing to suffer and die for the Divine love of all you surely find life. There will be those who will be ashamed of this message of radical love. I am ashamed of them. You will see the kingdom of the Divine, it will happen in your lifetime if you make it.”

Eight days after this conversation Esperanza went up on the hill she had been retreating to in the beginning. She took Peter, John, and Iago with her to the mountain to meditate. As they were meditating Esperanza began to transform. Her body seemed to glow and it was if she was radiating a dazzling bright light. This light encompassed them all and suddenly there was with them two others. There were two middle eastern men with her. One was older and held a staff the other was younger and looked like the paintings of Yeshua. They spoke with Esperanza and talked of suffering and death that was to come. Peter spoke up, “Rabbi, It’s amazing that they are here. We can build three temples here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Yeshua.” Peter was afraid and felt like he needed to do something here on this holy spot. Suddenly the wind picked up and they all could hear a voice on the wind saying, “This is my Daughter, my chosen one; listen to her!” As soon as the wind started it stopped. As soon as the wind stopped and they found Esperanza alone. They did not tell anyone of this encounter until after the story had ended.

The next day, the group came down from the hill. A large crowd was gathered in the parking lot of the campground. A woman from the crowd cried out, “RABBI! I beg you to come to my son. He is my only child and he has been gripped with addiction. I’m afraid for his life, it’s gotten so bad I can’t wake him anymore. I begged your friends to help but they could not cure him.” Esperanza wearily looked at the mother, “I’m sorry they couldn’t do it. Bring him here.” The mother went over to her car where her son was laying in the back seat. A few people helped him out of the vehicle where he was babbling and over to her. Esperanza asked the mother, “How long has he been like this?” She responded, “He started taking prescription painkillers after a sports injury. It has gotten worse over the past year. He’s almost died a few times now. Please help him. I can’t lose him.” Esperanza said to her, “All things are possible, just not everything is probable. Do you believe I can do this?” The mother turned to her. “I think so, I’ve tried everything. Help me believe.” Esperanza hugged the young man and immediately his body regained strength. His babbling stopped and he began to weep silently. She gave him over to his mother and turned to leave. Peter, Iago, and John looked at her dumbfounded. She said to them, “Don’t forget, I’m meant to suffer and die.” They stood in shock and did not understand what she meant. They were afraid to ask her about this.

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The Story of Esperanza Reyes: Chapter 9

Chapter 9:

During one of her lessons, Esperanza told this story.

Listen! A family was needing someone to make meals for them as they had no time to do it for themselves. The first person they hired was the least expensive and had no experience. The food that that person made was immediately spit out for the corn was uncooked and the chicken was dry. Another cook had made a meal that was hard as stone, so a bite could not even be taken. Another had bits of eggshells and rocks in the beans. So that some of the food was good, but not all of it and made it hard to consume. Then they found the person they needed. They found a cook who made a glorious meal that fed them for first and second servings, they even had leftovers for lunches.

Esperanza looked out over the crowd and said, “Those who are able to consume, let them take it in.” After the lesson, when it was just Esperanza and her group, they asked her, “What does that mean?” She looked at them with a loving smile. “You already know all the secrets I have to tell. The best way to teach this many people is through stories. For those who understand, they will be given more understanding. But those who don’t understand, what little understanding they have will be wasted. So whatever I do or say they won’t understand, but rather think that I mean what they say.” She opened her arms wide to them and smiled. “You are all so lucky! You get to hear what kings, presidents, and prophets wanted to hear.”

She went on to explain the story to them.

Okay, here is what it means. The food is the what the Divine has to say to the Divine’s people. The cooks are those who study it. The first cook is someone who has only studied a little and tries to use what they know, but fails. The second is one who has studied but completely misses the point of what they have studied. The third is one who has studied and understands, but gets the message mixed up with all manner of bad thinking. The last are those who study, understand, and keep studying so as to always prepare what the Divine is saying for others to consume easily. Nobody when turning on a light puts a bowl over it, or hides it so that it cannot light the room. No they make sure it gives the most light to make the room bright and welcoming. The truth will always find a way out. Those who study will always bring the truth of what the Divine is saying. Don’t ever think you’ve done enough study. For those who begin to understand, more understanding will be given.

One day, Esperanza and the group decided to go out on a rental yacht to do some fishing and relaxing in the Gulf of Mexico. As the day went on they were having a great time and Esperanza fell asleep in the cabin of the yacht. A great thunderstorm developed and began to pummel the yacht. It was being tossed from side to side. The pumps failed and the bottom of the yacht began to fill. with water. Peter and Iago went to wake Esperanza. “Teacher, We are all going to die!” She groggily woke up and made her way to the deck of the yacht. She looked around and yelled out “STOP!” Just then the rocking slowed and the winds stopped. The clouds parted and the sun shone once more. She looked at her group and smiled, “Why are you afraid?” She patted Peter on the shoulder went back into the cabin and promptly fell back asleep. The group marveled at this. “How did she do that?”

They docked later that day off South Padre Island. There at the docks, she was met by an addict. His clothes were ripped and stained and he looked like he hadn’t had a good meal in months. When he saw Esperanza he cried out and knelt before her. “Why are you here, Daughter of the Divine?” He twitched a bit and scratched the back of his neck. “Are you here to torture me?!” She took his hand in hers and looked him in the eye. “What is your name?”  He said, “They call me tweak, because I take everything. Please don’t make me stop, it’s all I have. Just send me to prison, they have good stuff there.” At this, she lifted him to his feet and gave him a hug. She whispered in his ear and suddenly he transformed in front of their eyes. His body stopped convulsing and his mind seemed free. She looked him in the eye again. “The prison system will not help you, they hurt those like you more than help. Come let us get you a good meal and some clothes, you can tell me about why you feel that drugs are all you have.” They went and had a lovely dinner after they bought the man some new clothes and gave him the opportunity to clean up. He told them all about his life and his losses. About struggling with PTSD after he returned from the service in Iraq. He told them about how the VA was so backed up they couldn’t help him and the only thing that calmed the rage in his head was the drugs. But that rage was gone now. He seemed like much calmer person. When it had come time for the group to leave, he begged to come with them. Esperanza smiled comfortingly and shook her head. “You have more important things to do here. You are no longer needed as a soldier. Instead, your family, your community, and this world needs you as who you are now. Go find that your place is here among those who need you now as you are.”

When the group returned to Leakey there was a great crowd that had gathered to greet them. One of the Rabbi’s named Jeremy came and fell at Esperanza’s feet. He wept bitterly saying, “My daughter is dying. She has cancer. We… We’ve been to every oncologist and they can’t do anymore. Please, I’m desperate.” She went with him and the crowd followed. As they were going there was a man who fought Leukemia for many years. He had suffered through doctor after doctor, treatment after treatment, remission, and reappearance for more than seven years. He had spent all that he had on doctors and treatments. He now lived on the streets as he could no longer afford treatment or housing. He heard reports about Esperanza and came up behind her in the crowd. He reached out and brushed her jacket. He thought, “If I touch even the hem of her clothes, I will be healed.” Immediately he could feel the fresh blood coursing through his veins. Esperanza, feeling that power had gone out from her, immediately turned and looked around. “Who touched my jacket?” Philip said to her, “Uh there are tons of people here, we are kind of crowded?” The man knowing what had been done to him came ashamed and raised his hand. She looked at him and smiled. “Because you believed, you have been healed. Go, be free.”  At that moment Jeremy’s phone rang. He answered, and began to shake. The phone call was his wife telling him that their daughter was dead. Esperanza placed a hand on his shoulder, “Don’t worry, I’ll make it better.” She told the crowd to stay behind only Jeremy, Iago, John, and Peter were allowed to come. When they arrived at Jeremy’s house there were many family members weeping. She looked at them and said, “Don’t cry, she isn’t dead, but sleeping.” They grew visibly angry at this but Jeremy held them off by holding up a hand. Esperanza turned and went to the daughter’s room. She took her hand and said, “Child, get up.” Just then she got up looked at Esperanza who ushered her back to the front rooms. There she saw her mother and family. She said in a groggy voice, “Mommy, I’m hungry.” At this, the crowd gasped. Esperanza told them all to say nothing about this event.

<  Chapter 8 Chapter 10  >

 

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The Story of Esperanza Reyes: Chapter 8

Chapter 8:

As Esperanza and her group returned to Leakey, a police officer approached the group. Some were filled with fear at this. The officer approached Esperanza he said, “Miss, my son… He’s lying paralyzed at home. I think he’s becoming sicker. I need help.” At this, he began weeping and hiding his face.  Esperanza put her arm around him and comforted him, ” I will come and heal him.”

The Officer looked sternly at her, “You don’t have to come, I’m not ordering you or anything. I just… Just say a word and he will be healed. I know it. I just do.” At this Esperanza looked at him with amazement. She turned back to her group and said this, “In all of my travels I don’t think I have met someone who believed in me as much as this man.” She smirked, Peter pulled out his phone and began to record, “I tell you many will gather at the table and see those they have not listened to but should have. You will see that had you listened, you may have believed like this man does.” She turned to the officer, “Go home, your son is healed.” At that very moment, the officer’s phone rang. He answered and immediately collapsed in a joyful weep. He looked up through tear welled eyes and managed, “Thank you!”

Shortly following that encounter, Esperanza and her group were in a city called Brady. There was a large crowd gathered as she yet again went viral. As they were walking down the street there was funeral moving out of a church. The pallbearers were carrying out a coffin of a young man. This young man was the only child of a woman who had been widowed. There was a large crowd with her as her son was killed in the line of duty while serving in the military abroad. When Esperanza saw her, she had compassion on her and said, “I understand. I’m so sorry.” She went and touched the coffin, the pallbearers stopped where they were. She said, “Young man, get up it is not your time.” Just then the coffin rattled. The pallbearers set it down and backed away in fear. He opened the coffin and sat up. A large gasp of fear went through the crowd. He rubbed his eyes, and looked at his mother. He asked, “Why are you crying?” Esperanza slowly retreated and left. The crowd began asking after her, “Where did this woman come from? How is she able to raise the dead? This is certainly the end times!” The story spread far and wide. Many questioned the validity of this story. Many took it to mean all manner of things.

Some of Juan’s followers found Esperanza in Brady. They asked her, “Are you the Messiah, or should we be looking for someone else?” They had asked her this question after her lesson and had seen her sit with many following the lesson hearing, healing, and sharing with those who gathered. She smiled at them and said, “Go tell my cousin what you heard and saw here. You saw those who have been paralyzed walk again, the blind regain their sight, those with Auto-immune diseases cured, the dead raised, addicts cleansed, and the poor fed and given a chance to succeed. These people are amazing for not taking offense at the things that I have said and done.”

After Juan’s followers left Esperanza spoke again to those gathered about her cousin: “What did you expect when you went out to see him? Were you expecting something grander? Were you expecting the spectacle of it all? There is more spectacle at the white house. There is more spectacle on television. What then did you want from him? A prophet? Yes, that he is. I tell you not a person alive or dead is greater. Though even the least of those in the Kingdom of the Divine are greater than he is. For all that has come before we have witnessed people trying to bring about the kingdom by force. There are those who try to force themselves into the Kingdom, but I tell you he knows the way. He taught about it. Those who listened to him know all are welcome in the Kingdom, no force is needed.”

When they heard this many turned to each other. There were still many gathered. Many who were considered sinners and unworthy. There were many in the LGBTQ community. There were drug dealers, prostitutes, porn stars, and more who had been shunned by even the most accepting of Jesuit churches and communities. They turned and rejoiced because they had been symbolically cleansed by Juan. Though there were still priests and rabbis who were gathered. They rejected what Esperanza had to say because it threatened the power systems that benefitted them.

Esperanza continued, “How should I put it? Many these days act like children pointing fingers and mocking those they disagree with. For Juan, who did not go out eating and partying with others and led a life that was ‘Holy’ they said he was from the devil. For me, who goes and eats and drinks with all of you they call me fat-ass and a drunk, a bleeding heart liberal snowflake! Though you can really see who is wise, and who isn’t.”

Soon afterward, She traveled on throughout the hill country of Texas meeting, talking to, and healing many. She brought the good news that all were loved by the Divine. The twelve were with her. There were also some others who had become close friends, these were some who had been set free from addictions and illnesses. There was Mary who spent the most time with Esperanza, as she had said Esperanza gave her life back to her. Chad was also with them, he was the husband to Joanna, the assistant to the Governor of Texas. There was a gender queer person named Sam, and many others who also accompanied the group on many journeys.

While Esperanza was giving a lesson to a large group of people, her family had come to see her. Sam had come up to her during the lesson and told her, “Your mother, father, and siblings are here and asking to speak with you.” She took the opportunity to use it in her lesson, “Who is my family?” She looked out at the crowd gathered and motioned to them. “Here, this is my family. Everyone who loves their fellow man, everyone who cares for the life they have been given, and the world they live in; they are my family. For when we care for what we have been given, we are connected.”

<  Chapter 7  |  Chapter 9  >

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The Story of Esperanza Reyes: Chapter 7

Chapter 7

One fall Sunday afternoon, Esperanza and her group were at a park. They were grilling hot dogs and hamburgers. There was plenty of food and drink for all. Everyone was having a wonderful time. A rabbi and a priest happened by and called Esperanza out from the group to talk to her.

They asked her, “Your friends are drinking on a Sunday, what if someone comes by and takes a picture of that?” She turned and asked them, “Are you more concerned for my friends, or for how they appear? Did you ever read that story about how David was in need and hungry? How did it appear when he and his friends ate the bread that only the Priests were allowed to eat? The weekend was made for human beings to not worry about appearances or anything else but to take time to relax. I suggest you do the same.” She turned and returned to her friends.

On another Sunday, Esperanza was teaching in a large Synagogue in San Antonio. There was a man there who had crippling arthritis. Both hands were worn and shriveled. The priests and rabbi watched her, to see if she would heal the man. They watched her, to see if she made the whole service about her supernatural healing gifts. Esperanza noticed them watching her intently. She looked at the man their eyes kept darting to and she invited him to stand where he was. She turned and looked at the priests and rabbi, “Is it against your religion to stop a service and help someone who is in need? Is it better to go on with the service and let someone suffer, or is it better to stop and help?” They stared back in silence. She turned to the man and asked him to stretch out his hands. As he did the bones set back into place and he bent his fingers without pain for the first time in years. The priests and rabbis left in a big show of storming out, mumbling to themselves about what had just happened and how to destroy her credibility.

After the service, many came from all over Texas to be healed. Esperanza had Peter ready the truck so she may stand in the bed and not be crowded by those that had gathered. She healed all that she could. She talked with each of them until late into the night. Many came seeking healing and someone to notice them. She noticed them all. She saw them right where they were. She saw beyond the masks they wore and disguises they put up to keep others out. She healed not just the physical, but the spiritual and emotional pain as well.

After such a day, she retreated to the hill country. She needed time alone to heal herself. When she returned, she met with those she called friends, who had followed her and become her closest allies. There was Simon who she called Peter, Andres his brother, Iago and his husband John, Philip and Natalie, Levi, Thomas, Jaymee the daughter of Alfredo Jimenez, Sara who was very knowledgeable about religion and texts, Jessica who was Iago and John’s adopted daughter, and Jaime who was the the one who turned Esperanza in.

As Esperanza’s story went more and more viral, more and more people came to hear her speak. She had to start holding lessons in large auditoriums and convention centers. She would always take the time to sit and talk with those who came, though. Her friends would feed them and take care of those who gathered. One particular Sunday, she gave this lesson:

Great are the poor,
for they own the kingdom of the Divine.

Great are they who weep,
because they understand what it is to suffer.

Great are the meek,
because they will be the great leaders of the Earth.

Great are they that study,
because they will understand that which needs understanding.

Great are the merciful,
because they themselves will recieve it in kind.

Great are those who love and care for others,
for in them is the face of the Divine.

Great are those who make peace,
because they are truly the children of the Divine.

Great are those who get put down or beaten up for doing the right thing,
because they know what the Divine really wants.

Great are you when you encounter difficult times for doing the right thing,
don’t worry about such things because you did what was right and good. Many people will say and do horrible things to you, but don’t stop doing what is right. Love even those who do such things, be kind to them who hate you. When they go low, take the high road. It will show them that you are human, and thus you should be treated. If you only love those who love you, how does that make a difference? If you only give to those who have “earned it”, how has that made a difference? Love your enemies, be kind, and give freely expecting nothing in return. That will show that you are one with the Divine. Be merciful, even as the Divine is merciful.

Don’t judge people. Don’t condemn people without knowing them. Forgive people. Give freely! Why do you want to judge people without knowing them or even yourself at all! How can you judge someone when you have so much wrong with yourself as well? Work on your own faults, and don’t worry about what other people are working on.

Do good! Be known for doing good! For a good tree gives good fruit. So should you give good things. Be the apple tree of good. Give good apples to all who need of them. The good person out of good treasure of his heart produces good. Everyone who does good to his fellow man is strong and can weather anything.

But to you who are rich, you have already won your prize.

To you who have eaten your fill, you will be hungry one day.

To you who laugh at others, you will suffer one day.

To you who appear to have it all together, watch out because the truth will come out.

You who injure those who do the right thing, who do good, you are shaky at best. You can’t weather the storms that are coming. When you are in need it is these who will be the ones who help you, they will not turn you away like you did to them. So get it together. You only claim to do good to appear good. If you have no intention of being good, why do you pretend? When we are with the Divine many of you will say that you were good and were kind and loving, yet you be found lacking a single good deed.

After this lesson, Esperanza again spoke with many, healed many, and was present with all who wished her company. In early evening Esperanza and her group returned to Leakey to again stay at Peter’s house.

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The Honest Faith: Old God or New God

If you haven’t read Neil Gaiman’s book “American Gods”, or even turned on a television in years, or watched any movies in the last few years, you probably aren’t familiar with this trope that is developing. There is a story concept that is making its way into media now where gods battle each other. They pit the old gods (usually the protagonists) against the new gods (usually the antagonist). This also dominates stories that you may not have thought of in that way. This is where many superhero movies are going now, with Civil War, Batman v Superman, Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2, Wonder Woman, to a lesser extent Spiderman: homecoming, and so on using this trope. The difference in Gaiman’s work is that he does what only Gaiman can, he incorporates the importance of story into the tale.

Story in itself is extremely important. It is how human beings communicate. We tell a story with everything that we do. Sometimes our actions tell a truer story than our words could ever do. Sometimes we are better with words than actions. That is why some of us write. I know that I am not especially great at writing, but I do what I can. I write how I speak, and to me that makes sense. That is primarily why I started recording the audio versions of this blog. Our stories are what unite us as people. Countries and kingdoms have formed around a united story. Ours formed around a story of freedom from misrepresentation. Christian’s have a unified story of following the God-man Jesus. There are differences in that story for many which is why there are so many different churches. Everything tells a story.

The context of a story is also very important. For instance, I can say “Jack ran”. Great, that could mean any number of things. Jack could be really into fitness. Jack could be trying to get back into shape. Jack could be running for the hell of it. Jack could be chased by something. Jack could be metaphorically running away from his problems. Jack could be running to catch a plane, train, taxi, car, bus, or a piece of paper that flew away from him. Why is Jack running? In my imagination, Jack is running from a bear, silly Jack.  Even then there would be more to the story. Where did Jack encounter the bear? Why is Jack silly? Does he not know what to do when encountering a bear? Do you know what to do when encountering a bear? How has your experience shaped what you thought Jack was doing when he was running?

In school, I learned the difference between two words. First, eisegesis which is the process of interpreting a text or portion of text in such a way that the process introduces one’s own presuppositions, agendas, or biases into and onto the text. Second, exegesis which is a critical explanation or interpretation of a text, particularly a religious text. When I was in those classes, even though I was in college, it sounded like they were different names for Jesus. Like Superman and bizarro-Superman; Iso-Jesus, the equalizer Jesus, and Exo-Jesus, the outsider Jesus. The more I learned the more I discovered how much I was taught to eisegete Scripture rather than exegete. I read what I wanted to read, not what the author had intended. I realized I had elevated the Bible to Godlike status and was subconsciously worshiping a quaternity; the Bible, God the parent, Jesus, and the holy spirit. I realized that some of the passages I had memorized meant something completely different than what I was using them for. This was early in my college career and it made me never want to study anymore for fear that I would lose my faith. The funny thing is, the more I learned the more it deepened my faith.

I have been accused recently of being hateful. There is a problem in that. I don’t carry hate for anything except for injustice, greed, and evil. I will admit to the fact that I am angry. However, anger does not equate to hate. I am angry at actions that are being committed in the Divine’s name. I’m angry that people are supporting those who claim to be champions for the Divine, yet only worship themselves or Mammon. I wrote a political post last week. I wrote it because I was angry. I still am. I can’t stand to see others wallowing in hate for other people, and creations. It does make me mad, as it made Jesus mad. There is a whole story about turning over tables remember? Oh yeah, and God has a weird thing about figs. People have tried to say that I am the one who is bringing hate to the table. Nope, that’s not my story. I’m angry. I’m angry at the injustice, greed, corruption, and evil that I am seeing being allowed to take root in the story of our country and faith.

My fascination with the old god vs. new god trope is that I’m seeing it play out in reality as well. If you take a good look at any religion you see these distorted new gods popping up. In Christianity, you see this new version of Jesus that I’ve talked about in the last few weeks. This new Jesus is more the son of Mammon than of the Divine. This new Jesus is the Exo-Jesus, not that he is one with the outsiders, but that he is outside the Bible. This is the Jesus with long conditioned hair, a beauty pageant sash, holding a lamb, and looks like he is about to attend a Phish concert. The irony of Exo-Jesus is that he was created by eisegesis. People read into the Bible what they wanted to read. They made passages fit their worldview and twisted sense of morality. This Jesus hated the sins that made these people feel dirty and so they made Jesus in their image.

On the other hand, you have Iso-Jesus. He is the great equalizer. I found him while I was doing exegesis of the gospels. He fought against power systems. He loved people. He wouldn’t exclude them because he thought they were icky due to a sin He didn’t understand. He didn’t care about sin. The ones he cared about were things that kept you from loving or caring about people. I’ve been asking you to read my work without adding yourself into it. I invite you to re-read the gospels. This time do it without adding yourself into the story. It’s tough. Maybe you’ll find this Iso-Jesus. Maybe I found him because I did read a bit of what I wanted to read, I hope not though.

If you haven’t noticed, I’ve been trying to write a story to make the Gospels understandable. I kept it quiet because I didn’t want people calling me a heretic, or trying to burn me at the stake due to writing it. Mainly I’ve been writing the Messiah as a woman, and a Mexican-American in modern day Texas. I’ve been doing this because I want to have a story that is easier to understand in today’s world. I want to show what Iso-Jesus looks like to me and maybe, just maybe, I can somehow see the old God win over this new god through it. I know it’s something that has been done before, but it was a story I needed to tell. If you haven’t started it, start it, and let me know what you think. You can find the Story of Esperanza here.

Maybe I’m reading too much into things. Maybe I’m angry over perceived slights. I could be, but honestly, I want to err on the side of love. I’d rather be angry over injustices that don’t exist, rather than pretend they aren’t there if they do exist. I used the design I made as my featured image this week because it is my story in one picture. It is the reason I love both the story of Quetzalcoatl and the story of Jesus. They both spilled blood for humanity out of their love for them. They are the old gods of my ancestors on both sides of my family. Quetzalcoatl is actually my birth deity in Aztec tradition. I was baptized as a Christian after my birth as well. Both are a part of my ancestry. Both are stories that I want to be told of my life. That I loved people so much I was willing to even to give my own life. What do you want to be said of you? What stories make you who you are? Do you follow Exo-Jesus or Iso-Jesus? Whatever your answers are, I want you to know that you are not alone, you matter!

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The Story of Esperanza Reyes: Chapter 6

Chapter 6

After word had spread about Esperanza she became a sensation. People would come from all over just to hear her speak. There was one time in Leakey, that the crowd had become so large that Esperanza was forced to find some place to stand just so that she could be heard. She climbed on the back of a pickup truck for the nearby construction company. She asked the owner of the truck to pull out a little, and she taught the crowd from the back of a pick-up truck.

After she was done with her lessons she walked around to the side of the truck and spoke to the owner and his passenger. “Thank you so much for allowing me to use your truck. In return, I know of a plot of land that is looking for a contractor to build a building just on the other side of that wall over there.” They looked at her incredulously, “We just got fired from this very construction site, and you say there is another on the other side of the wall?” Simon and Andres got out of the truck and the three of them walked around the wall together. They saw there was a large sign advertising a condominium complex being built. The owner of the plot of land was just beside the sign looking at the grounds. Simon introduced himself and struck up a conversation with the owner. They worked out a contract for well more than they were being paid for the previous job. When Simon returned to Esperanza and Andres, his face was flush. “I don’t know how you knew, or how that happened, but thank you. I am not worthy to even shake your hand.” She just smiled and said, “Follow me.”

She walked back with the men around the wall. Two more of Simon’s construction crew were still there, Iago and his husband John. Iago and John were known as the sons of thunder for their loud boisterous personalities. Simon loudly exclaimed to the group, “Come, we are buying this amazing person a beer tonight!” They all loaded up the equipment and headed off to drop it off at the company lot and return to the pub.

At the pub, Esperanza was having a grand time with the guys from the construction company. They had discussed how Simon got the company started and how he had persevered through many difficulties. Iago brought up the old Chevy commercials and how they used to say, “Like a Rock”, he described Simon in that way. He had been the steady companion and greatest boss they ever had working tirelessly not just for his business but for his employees. Esperanza turned to him and raised a glass, “From now on you shall be called Peter, for you are our rock!”

Many other patrons saw the joyous celebration in the pub. It brought life to many lives that night. A female to male trans man named Philip recognized Esperanza from her lesson earlier. He approached the group to thank her for the amazing lesson she taught. Esperanza invited him to join them, Philip asked if his friend Natalie could join them. He pointed over to a tall tattooed woman standing by the bar. She had purple undercut hair and was facing the bar. John laughed and said loudly, “The more the merrier!” Philip went and retrieved Natalie. Philip said to her, “She and those guys with her are the real deal! She has a real connection with the divine. She is the daughter of Maria and Jose from Durango, Mexico.” Natalie turned incredulous, “Can anything good come from Mexico?” Philip said to her, “Come and see.”

Esperanza greeted her with a hug, “This is an honest woman!” Natalie taken aback a bit, said, “How do you know?” Esperanza said, “Before Philip called you, I saw you at the bar.” Just then Natalie saw in Esperanza’s eyes a light that could not be explained. This brought understanding and peace with it. Natalie’s eyes began to well up, “You… You are her, aren’t you? You are the Messiah!” Esperanza’s grin grew large. She laughed a bit as she said, “Because I said I saw you at the bar you believe in me?” Esperanza put an arm around her shoulder and turned her toward the group. “You ain’t seen nothing yet.”

After their night at the pub, they all returned to Peter’s house. They laughed and had a lovely night well into the small hours of the morning. They all slept on the sofas in the great room. Peter was the first one awake as his wife had come to tell him of her mother not feeling well. Esperanza awoke too. and couldn’t help but hear what was going on. Before they left the room Esperanza went over to them and asked if she could visit with Peter’s mother in law. Claire agreed and they all went upstairs to the room she was staying in. Rena was in the bed and definitely did not look well. She saw Esperanza and gave her a weak smile. Esperanza went up to her side of the bed and extended her hand in a friendly gesture. As Rena took the hand it was if life radiated from her hand to the rest of her body. Strength filled her frame and she got up out of bed. She hugged Esperanza and said, “You must be hungry. Come, I’m making breakfast.” True to her word, Rena went down to the kitchen and made breakfast for the entire group.

Claire posted on social media about the miraculous recovery of her mother. The post immediately went viral and those all over the hill country of Texas began to travel to Leaky so that their loved ones may be healed by this Esperanza. By evening there was a line of cars that stretched for more than a mile. Esperanza was not put off by this, she went to each individual vehicle and spoke with the occupants meeting, and greeting many. There were many who had cancers, auto-immune disorders, STI’s, and even those who had addictions and mental health issues. Those with addictions would often look at her with recognition, but she would often tell them it was not the time to tell the world who she was yet. She again stayed with Peter, the group had not left. In fact, they intended to follow Esperanza, and she would have it no other way.

The next day, they all set out to Kerrville. In Kerrville, there was a man who had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder approached Esperanza. The man fell to his knees in front of her. “Please, take this away from me! I can’t anymore. I can’t live like this.” Esperanza looked with compassion and empathy at the man. She lifted him up and hugged him. His face showed the relief that washed over him in that moment. His brain had been freed. She spoke to him, “Do not tell anyone, instead go and speak to your therapist. See a psychologist and get a clean bill of health.” The man took a long look at her and ran off he immediately posted on social media about what had happened. The word again went viral and the town became flooded with vehicles. Esperanza and the group had to go out to a nearby field in order to give the lessons she had prepared for the day.

The field was packed. People from all over the Texas hill country showed up. Priests and Rabbi from Austin and San Antonio were also in attendance. The people stretched far and wide. The group put up a small stage with a PA system in the middle of the field so that Esperanza could be seen by all. During this time there was a teenaged boy who had been diagnosed with AIDS. He was not doing well and his friends had wanted to bring him before Esperanza. When they arrived they saw no way of bringing him through the crowd to her. They spotted a news crew nearby who were preparing four large drones to carry heavy camera equipment. The friends gathered their money and paid the crew to use the drones to bring the boy to Esperanza. When she saw the makeshift medi-vac she smiled. They landed him in front of her and she said to him, “Your friends must really love you, be well my boy.” The priests and rabbis began to murmur. “She can’t just take illness away. This boy has sinned, or his parents have sinned, that’s why he’s sick! God made him ill for a reason!” Esperanza hearing this murmuring turned to the crowd. “What would you have me say? ‘Go and sin no more?'” She turned to the boy and with a sarcastic grin on her face gave the boy a look that said, “Whatever”. Then she said very sarcastically, “Go and sin no more my boy.” He got up and took the gurney down from the drones and pushed it back to his friends. All who were there remarked later, “We saw some weird things today.”

As the crowd was clearing out. Esperanza saw a woman she knew as the owner of a local LGBTQ bar, named Laura. She said to her, “Come, follow me.”  She took a look at Esperanza’s group and said, “The hell with it, I got nothing better to do.” Laura invited the group to her bar and they had an amazing party that night. The Priests and Rabbi rumored about Esperanza’s group. “She parties with sinners and unbelievers!” Esperanza heard of these rumors and spoke out on social media. “I didn’t come for the people who didn’t want my help. These people want my help.” There were many replies about how they were not true followers or real Jesuits. Esperanza again spoke out against this on social media, “How can you criticise those you don’t even know? What about your own lives, are they so spotless. If people really knew you would they say the same about you?”

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The Story of Esperanza Reyes: Chapter 4

Chapter 4

Thirty-five years later, in 2015 Barack Obama was president of the United States, and Greg Abbot just became the Governor of Texas. The Jesuits had a large area that was lead by an Arch-Rabbi named Gustavo Garcia-Siller, he lead the area of west Texas. Juan, the son of Zachary and Isabella, was now 36 years old. He, also, became a priest. Though, he did not feel welcomed in many church buildings. He decided to forge his own path. He preferred, instead, to hold services under tents in distant fields far away from populated areas. Many rumors circulated about him. Many thought he lived in a cave. There were rumors that he had survived by eating wild honey and grasshoppers. He didn’t help these rumors, by dressing very simply. He wore a ratty old leather jacket, very worn jeans, and an old “Hewey Lewis and the News” t-shirt most days. This didn’t stop his gatherings from drawing hundreds, if not thousands of people from the surrounding areas to come to one of his big tent services.

The people came from San Antonio, the Rio Grande Valley, El Paso, Austin, and even some from Dallas and Houston. They came and they listened. They came because he also listened to them. He heard their stories. It was as if when all gathered they were family. He used water from the Rio Grande to do ritual washings telling of the symbolic nature of water. Word began to spread far and wide of this eccentric leader in the wilderness of West Texas. Many began to come to these services soon the leaders and officials of the Jesuits and State caught word of this wild man drawing so much attention.

Some Rabbis and Priests came out to hear him speak a few times. He noticed this large gathering of leaders near the back of one of his services. He called out to them. “Liars and thieves, who said the end is near and sent you out here? Stop misleading your people and start teaching of the power of love. Stop hiding behind your ‘holy orders’ because anyone can and should read the good news for themselves. The Divine is ready to uproot that church because you do not bear good fruit. Instead, it is about to be composted.” The crowd grew into a murmur. One of the crowd asked him, “What are we supposed to do? He turned and spoke to the crowd, “If you have two coats, give one to someone who doesn’t have one. If you have more than enough food, give the leftovers to those who are hungry. Quit hoarding for yourself.” There were also gathered the wealthy and elite oil tycoons who had gathered in the crowd. Juan spoke directly to them now, “Don’t take more money than you have to. Don’t be greedy.” He turned to those in police uniform in the crowd. “Don’t abuse your authority over civilians. Treat everyone with the same kindness and love no matter their lot or skin color.”

The rabbis and priests, now deflated, called out accusingly. “Why are you leading these services and saying such things if you aren’t the chosen one, the Messiah that was to come?” Juan turned back to them and said, “I am just the messenger, not the Messiah. There is one who is coming who is so much more important than I am. I am not even worthy enough to shake Her hand. I have shown you the symbolic nature of being washed by water, She will fill your souls with water of life cleansing you from the inside-out.”

One of the Governor’s aides was in attendance at that service. This man spoke against power structures and threatened the very power that the state government had over the people. This aide also feared that his own sins would be pointed out to everyone, so he began to plot against Juan. The aide worked to plant evidence of a crime upon Juan. This was done, and Juan was thrown in prison. Juan did not put up a fight but cooperated with all that was asked of him. He talked with the other prisoners and told them of the freedom that the Divine provides.

Before Juan was imprisoned, Esperanza came from Eden, Texas to one of her cousin’s services. This service was held along the Rio Grande just south of Del Rio, Texas. She went to his service because she heard of the ritual cleansings he did, and needed to experience this for herself. Juan was very against the idea when he heard of it. He said to her, “I need to be cleansed by you, not the other way around.” Esperanza said to him, “It’s alright. It is necessary for me, and a symbol for others.” Juan gave in and performed the ceremony. When Esperanza came out of the water the clouds rolled away and the sun had shown seemingly directly upon her. The wind picked up and it sounded like the Divine’s voice carried upon it saying “This is my child, with whom I am delighted.” Esperanza spoke to those gathered, “The Divine waits to delight in you as well.”

All this took place during the beginning of the year. As I have written before, not much is known about Esperanza’s early life. There are many stories though none that I felt necessary to tell. There is one that struck me deeply, if true. It has been said that Esperanza was married in her twenties. She had two children. This family was well beloved by Esperanza. It has been said that they loved her deeply as well. Esperanza’s parents had grown older and could not cross the border as they used to. Her siblings were all grown and had moved all over the country. She was the only one left in Texas. She made it a point to go and visit her family regularly. She would legally cross the border with her family, stay a few days, and return without issue. Though it seems not all of these trips were without issue. On one such journey returning from Durango, Mexico to Eden, Texas, the family was pulled over by the state patrol. They had received a report about a vehicle the same make and color that Esperanza and her family drove. It was reported that a drug cartel was using such a vehicle to smuggle drugs and other things across the border. When it was seen that a Mexican family was traveling across the border in such a vehicle, the state patrol jumped into action. It was dark and the family was ordered get out of the car with their hands up. As Esperanza’s husband was helping the younger child out of the car the, older child had poked his head in around his father to grab one of his toys to show the police. His father stood up and took the toy plastic gun from his son. This was mistaken as a real weapon by the police officers. The officers took a few shots and killed the father and two children. This was in the year 2013. Esperanza mourned the deaths of her family, though during her ministry she never spoke of this incident. It may be just a rumor, but this story gives so much more weight to the things she said if it were true. I share it because I feel as though it is true of her character.

 

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The Story of Esperanza Reyes: Chapter 2

Chapter 2

2000 years ago a man named Yeshua ben-Yosef lived in the Isreal, some believed him to be the Messiah, others did not. There were stories told of the man, but he often refused the title of Messiah. He lead a reformation of the Jewish religion. This reformation gained power and caused a schism very quickly. This new branch of Judaism was named for their leader and was later changed by many different languages, but is now known as Jesuits. Due to its fast growth and far reaching influence, the Roman Empire took notice. The religious leaders of Judaism of that time took notice as well. They did not particularly like the teachings of Yeshua ben-Yosef. His teachings threatened their power structures over the people. His message of freedom, kindness, and love was the main reason why this new movement caught fire.

Yeshua lived a long life. He turned the course of history, though it seems, humans always find a way to co-opt a leaders message and turn it into something that suits their own needs. The Roman Empire did such a thing after a few hundred years or so, the Jesuits could not be ignored any longer. Their power and influence had spread so far and wide it was the dominant religion of the Roman Empire. The leaders of Rome had a dilemma, fight this new religion or co-opt it for their own purposes. They chose the later. The Jesuit religion was then set forward as the official religion of the now ‘Holy’ Roman Empire. A grand synagogue was built in the center of Rome as a symbol of the Empire’s devotion to this idea. Monotheistic Judaism was now the dominant religion of the world.

As humans do, they began twisting and using the message to harm each other. This lead to many wars over religion and territory over the years. One of Yeshua’s followers Simon, who he referred to as Petras, or as we know him, Peter was named as Yeshua’s successor. He was the one whom the organization of the followers fell upon. He named other Rabbis, following him, very many from that point until now. These Rabbi, known as HaAv, were looked to for blessing or dismissing said wars or divisions. This power, as so often does, corrupted some and uplifted others. The most notable wars throughout history were the crusades. These were attempts to take back Isreal from another religious people. These were seen as the major split away from traditional and orthodox Judaism. There were many wars that were caused by infighting as well within the Jesuits. These even spread across many nations. The most notable of which was the second great war. Where many horrific acts were committed against other religious people in the supposed name of the Jesuit god. Of course, this is not to say the religion itself was responsible. Just as a course to say that, as things often do, messages get twisted and used to hurt others. The religious are not the only people responsible for doing such things.

The Jesuits used the emerging language as their own. It was easier to spread the message in the common tongue of the day. Latin became the official language of the Jesuit religion. In fact, their temples were called Iglesias, or as we now know them churches. This came from the common worship gatherings in Roman society. Many Romanic terms and words were used for this new religion. In the common era year 1959 HaAv John the 23rd called a council to the holy city of Rome. It was the second time such a council was convened. It was named for the holy synagogue which was called Ir Gibeah, or in English “the city on a hill”. In the second Ir Gibeahan Council, HaAv cleared up many doctrinal issues and began to allow services to be done in the native tongues of the people. This helped to solidify the growth and stability of the Jesuit community which came to be known as catholic, or in English, universal.

Now Maria and Jose’s families had both come from refugee families that were displaced several times over two millennia. Both had come originally from the same line. Though during the wars over the vast amount of time that family split and became varied among the local people of the places they ended up. Coincidentally, both the Reyes and Caro families ended up in Mexico. Their families had immigrated to Texas in the last few years looking for a better life. They had met at church and Jose, while being a few years older, was instantly smitten with Maria. They had been a couple for a few years now and were the primary reason why their parents had not gone back to Mexico with the whole family in a while.

The world had grown smaller with the advent of the industrial revolution. People could move a lot faster than they had before, and ideas moved faster than ever. By the time Maria and Jose were in High school there were rumors of the miniaturization of computers and a network that would allow people to communicate near instantaneously. This didn’t become a normal reality until the time Esperanza was in high school, but we’ll get there. The ideas of Yeshua ben-Yoseph were spread faster and warped more than ever.

The reformed religion of the Jesuits went through many transformations over the years. It even had its own schisms and splits over little things. People like Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Wesley, and much more set out to reform certain doctrines but ended up creating splits and separations. This was through no fault of their own, but rather a side effect of the attempts to reform. There were now many different Jesuit-Judaic churches across the globe. All claiming to be the one true religion, all worshiping the same Divine in their own way.

Very quickly the idea of the American Dream got mixed with the concept of love, kindness, and acceptance for all. The splits in the Jesuit faith allowed this message easy saturation within the doctrine and belief. Wealth and its draw were sly attractors. There were some who were explicit in this new message that wealth came to the best Jesuits. There were some who were a bit more covert in their message. By the time Maria was visited by the man in linen, there was one common rule for the western Jesuit religion, wealth.

There were some who realized this and worked to preserve the message of the faith. Some like Zachary, who worked tirelessly due to their love of the Divine and the message that was sent to and through many prophets, priests, and kings. This became an unpopular idea, however. So much so that many were ridiculed or looked down on when they professed this idea. A political game was necessary to sneak the message back into the Jesuit faith. These people were called all sorts of things but their message remained the same; love, kindness, and acceptance for all.

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