During a holiday, Xiao Lu, a young man, went to visit his elderly grandmother, a dedicated Christian. He had a basic understanding of her religious beliefs, but limited in-depth knowledge of what that actually meant. Xiao Lu's impression of his grandmother was that she was an amiable elderly lady, never at odds with others and always willing to show her kindness and do acts of charity, all of which he attributed to God's love.
One Sunday morning Xiao Lu's grandmother invited him to go to church with her. He was excited because his grandmother had taken him to Sunday school classes frequently when he was little, and thus he had always had some positive feelings towards the church. He could still remember the brothers and sisters in the choir with their snow-white robes and a holy glow on their faces. He recalled how his heart melted upon hearing the hymns they sang; all the filthiness and darkness within him was washed clean and purged at he listened to the choir.
When they approached the church, he saw a girl with a crippled left leg come limping from a distance, walking with difficulty. Xiao Lu was astounded by the scene, wondering if he was seeing flawed beauty and a scar kissed by God. At that moment, the church's bell rang for morning prayers. He watched his grandmother gently close her eyes and pray with folded hands. The girl did the same, an expression of serenity on her face, her crutch laying quietly next to her on the ground, while a butterfly flitted above her. As the bell chimed pleasantly, Xiao Lu observed the butterfly coming slowly towards them. It was dancing in the wind, as if it was telling Xiao Lu that the girl was not complaining about her suffering to God but was singing a hymn. In Xiao Lu's view, the butterfly's dance was something predestined to accompany the girl's silent singing.
The whole essence of the sacraments lies in one word: "holiness," which originates from Jesus Christ himself. Holiness is not intended for the selfish pleasure of man, but is ultimately and solely for inspiring awe, admiration and love of people towards God. There is a void in the heart of human beings that cannot be filled with anything else like wealth, status, emotions or career, but with only God himself. There is a part of our heart that is saved particularly for him by ourselves, and in turn it is saved by him for us, in a bid to fulfil it by himself.
Deep River, the masterpiece of Japanese Christian writer Shusaku Endo, depicts the journey of a priest saving a non-Christian. Although a non-believer, the one who is saved has shown his own and hidden divinity through the pilgrimage, especially the last scene when the priest carries the dying non-Christian on his back, trudging step-by-step towards the Ganges River, the solemnity and tranquility on his face a holy glow resembling that of God. At that time, the death of the non-Christian has become a pilgrimage, while the priest finds his salvation through carrying him.
Indeed, divinity hides deep inside everyone's heart, which is what binds them to God. Even the wildest outlaws would spontaneously put out their cigarettes in church, just like the young man Xiao Lu, who saw the glory of God in the church's sacrament and felt his mercy and holy love. Although Xiao Lu has not yet been baptized and is not an official Christian, I believe that the religious sentiment that resides in his heart is ever-lasting and it will become a ray of warm life deep within.
- Translated by Li Runping