Jesus on Your Grilled Cheese
By Carol Barnier –
Warning: Serious Cynicism Alert
Few of you will ever know the thrill of seeing the face of our Lord Jesus on your drywall. I can tell you first hand, there’s nothing like it. The problem is, in my case, the face that emerged looked more like the Sith Lord from Star Wars rather than Jesus. And that’s not the first time I’ve seen a clearly-not-Jesus face appear. Karl Marx appeared in my wooden door grain, Mark Twain on my marble floor, and I’d swear I saw John Goodman in a cow pie (my apologies John, but it is what it is).
There have been Jesus sightings by people all over the world in the most unlikely of places—places like Cheetos, clouds, banana peels, baby scans, end of a log, grain of a rocking chair, stained tea towel, rusty side of a refrigerator, bacon drippings, freeway underpass, tortilla, granite countertop, bottom of a turtle shell, and my personal favorite—stains on the coffee mug of an atheist. These people are serious. They take photos, slap them onto Facebook, and start a viral ooh-and-ah fest round the world with amazed and reverent supplicants. This behavior actually has an academic latiny-shmatiny name: pareidolia, which loosely translates to I think I’m in love with my toast. So powerful is this longing to see the face of Jesus in an unusual place, this year’s Christian Retailer’s extravaganza provided the opportunity to purchase a George Forman-like grill that imprints the face of Jesus on your grilled cheese sandwich—(No. I’m not making this up. Google Grilled Cheesus if you don’t believe me . . .which begs the question, just how do we know what Jesus looked like, and moreover, does He prefer Gouda, Brie, or Cheddar?
I don’t want to rule out the possibility that there may indeed be some authentic appearances, but you’ve got to know how to evaluate these things. The Catholic Church, being fully aware of just how often this can become silly, has taken this evaluation process very seriously, even producing a checklist of Rules Regarding Apparitions explaining how to judge the validity of a sighting. Among other things, it includes looking at the individual who found the sighting with a very cautious, even cynical eye. Is she a true adherent? Or did she jump on this bandwagon recently, bringing with her other questionable practices like swinging dead chickens over her head before prayer? Is this an unusual thing in her life? Or did she also see David Bowie in her freezer’s frost last week?
My sightings of the Sith Lord, Mark Twain and John Goodman have taught me something; if you look around long enough, you’ll see faces in everything.
But I think I’ve also learned something else. Rather than looking for the face of Jesus in our coffee stains and our mulch piles, I think our time is better spent trying to BE the face of Jesus. Doing an act of kindness when others turn away. True—it’s not Facebook worthy. No one’s going to line up and pay money for a trinket representing your act of kindness. Little bobble-head dolls aren’t going to appear with your giant grin nodding reverently toward an adoring fan club from the back of someone’s Kia.
No. There is a hurting world out there. They need to feel a loving embrace, a drink when they’re thirsty, a hand when they’ve fallen. They need to know hope. They need to know that the God of the Universe knows their face. And I suspect, that no matter how beautifully rendered, they’ll never find such truth in a cow pie.