Searching for Jesus

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I was searching for Jesus. Of course it hadn’t begun that way.

It began with coffee. I was in the town of Salento, Colombia for a couple days, the heart of Colombia’s coffee region, and it seemed sac-religious to leave without finding the very best cup of joe. So, I started asking around, curious where the locals went when they wanted to get their buzz on.

When I was first told that I needed to find Jesus I laughed. Jesus? I knew Colombia was a Catholic country but this seemed extreme. Not the religious type myself I decided to ask again, and again, and again. And yet each, ‘donde puedo encontrar lo major café?’ was met with the same answer, ‘necesitas encontrar Jesus.’

So, I started looking for Jesus, instead of coffee, and just like that my search had taken a dramatic turn. Where was Jesus? Would I find him in the center of town? Out in the fields themselves? Late at night when the world was still? Would I even find him at all? I decided to give it my best try.

It didn’t prove easy, as one would imagine. Here I was in the land of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, expert at magical realism, a land where the real and unreal dance together in surprisingly convincing routines.

I spent my mornings asking more questions. Purchasing a to-go cup of coffee from the town’s main café, I would sip the warm liquid while I continued my hunt. It opened up conversations with strangers that I would have easily bypassed. We talked about coffee production, my interest in Jesus welcoming me into an elite circle of people in the know. We talked religion, my undefined inquiry spurring questions turned back at me, was I looking for a farmer or enlightenment? We talked about Salento and Colombia and the importance of coffee production and tourism and Pablo Escobar and travel. We talked and I wondered if I was getting any closer to finding Jesus. I stopped caring so much.

And then I found him. Waking early I strolled down to the coffee shop to buy my take away cup. Looking down at one of the whole bean bags for sale I saw stamped under the bags label, Jesus. I picked up one of the shiny bags and quickly pointed to the name, “quien es?” The answer was simple, “that’s Jesus the farmer who supplies us with our beans”.

Recently I have felt bogged down by the weight of decisions. What city to move to, what career path to follow, what lifestyle to embrace. As I sifted through my thoughts this morning, preparing to write, I was overwhelmed by the memory of this story, one that happened over five years ago. Realizing that meaning truly is found in the process not the result. I found Jesus long before I realized that I had. Each morning as I sat in town chatting to new people I already had what I was looking for, roasted to perfection and slowly sipped during conversations, and having the coffee hardly mattered, because both Jesus and coffee were never what it had been about. What had mattered was what took place while I was looking for answers, the living happened in the in-between.

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