Dear Mr. President,
Years ago, as an 18-year old traveling abroad for the first time, I found myself on a beach outside of the Hague on Easter. I remember it was cold and gray and empty, all the shops were closed, and I got horribly, horribly lost. I don't remember being afraid, which I suppose you just can't be when you're lost in a foreign country by yourself. I thought a lot about Easter and Jesus, imagining that my own wanderings throughout the strange landscape of the Netherlands were linked somehow to his own travels through the holy land. Fact or fiction, God or man, he has existed in my mind always as a wanderer.
Other, more mundane Easters have passed since then, spent waiting tables in a near-empty restaurant, being sent to the McDonald's on M street to bring back breakfast for the other bookstore employees, reading, reading, reading through the rainy hours by at home by myself. I have also learned a bit more about the historical Jesus, walked in the streets of Jerusalem, visited his birth place and tomb, the stations of the cross, the site of his temptation in the desert. I am not Christian enough to imagine him as more (or less) than human; the places that echo with his presence in Palestine did not move me as they did many of the tourists who seemed overcome by the intense resonance of the divine.
I know enough about Christianity to understand that Jesus is expected, any day now, at the Gates of Jerusalem. I know enough about his political philosophy to doubt, seriously, that he would approve of what the city has become. I'm not a Christian, so I'll be spending Easter making lattes and worrying about the earthly, mundane details of existence. However, since you are a Christian, Mr. President, I'll think of you tomorrow and hope that your own meditations on the central figure of your faith will lead you to use your considerable influence to better the conditions of those living in the places he once wandered.