"We have to let you go." The words still echoed in Susan’s ears as she moped on the paint peeled bench waiting for the bus. Four years she had given to that rotten company and now they were ‘taking a new direction.’ That’s how she felt about her life; it was taking a new direction- south. Two weeks prior her boyfriend ‘let her go’ and a month before that her best friend moved away. Losing her job was just rancid icing on her moldy cake. And she got to eat it too. How nice.
Susan stared at the bustle of the city: parents scurrying about with their children, young business execs pacing like cyborgs with their blackberries and jawbone headsets, and prissy fairy tale princesses shopping with their daddy’s credit cards. It made her sick. Susan’s dad left when she was twelve and the drunk never came back. He was probably dead now anyway.
"Mind if I join you?" a casual but sharply dressed man in his thirties inquired.
"It’s a free country," Susan replied.
"My name’s Jared." He sat down beside her with his open hand extended.
"Susan," she replied with a curt smile and brief handshake, "nice to meet you." She shifted herself on the bench to face away from him, hoping he would get the hint. He didn’t.
"So where are you heading?"
Nowhere fast, was the first thought that popped into Susan’s head, but she refrained. "Home," she said.
"Oh, you just get off work?"
He wasn’t getting the hint, so now he was going to get the whole load. "Well, if you really want to know, I got fired today and I’m going home to figure out if my life’s worth living. So, how are you?"
"I am so sorry," the young man replied. "I had no idea. That’s terrible. Could I, like…buy you dinner or something? Don’t misunderstand me; I just really want to help."
The man’s face radiated sincerity and his eyes glistened with pre-tear moisture. Maybe he really did care. And besides, he was good looking. What did she have to lose. She didn’t have anything to eat at home anyway.
"Why not. Where do you want to go?"
"Oh, I know a wonderful café a couple of blocks away. Do you mind walking?"
"Hey, we’re at a bus stop. I walk all the time."
Susan and Jared rose and strolled toward the café.
"You know I’ve been where you are," Jared said. "Not the exact circumstances, but wondering whether life’s worth living."
"You seem pretty together now. What happened?"
"I found the light. The café’s right up here. I’ll tell you about it after we order."
The stimulating conversation complemented the café’s homey atmosphere and delightful fare. Susan had never considered the insights Jared articulated. It made more sense to her than anything else in her life right now, that’s for sure.
"So explain to me again how I can live in this light," Susan requested.
"God’s everywhere, Susan. He’s inside of you. You just need to look inside yourself and find the God that is in you."
"But what about Jesus? I was taught as a kid that you need to believe in Jesus."
"Sure, you can believe that Jesus found enlightenment, but he’s not the only way. He modeled the way. In other words, Jesus tapped into the God within him and we should do the same. The light’s in you, Susan. Recognize your own divine power as Jesus did his. Start living out of that power. When I started doing that, my life turned around. Yours will too. You should check out this church."
Jared handed Susan a glossy business card portraying a resplendent angelic being on the left and the elegantly scripted words in the center, "Church of the angel of light. Come experience the God within you."
Jared paid for the meal and the two prepared to part company.
"Susan, I sure hope you check out the church."
"I will, Jared. Thank you so much. I feel a lot better."
"I’m so glad I could help. Good luck, Susan."
Jared marched out of the café and turned down a deserted alley. Suddenly, a hellish creature with membranous wings and twisted talons confronted him.
"Master," the fiend’s guttural voice inquired, "was it successful?"
"What do you think, you foolish imp? Humans are idiots. They follow anything that ‘feels’ right. Forget truth. The Church of the angel of light, indeed. She’ll have no clue she’s worshipping me."
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