There was once a heretic who found truth in birds and in nature and so was a threat to teachers of religion. He openly embraced those called “unclean,” and so was a threat to the defenders of morality. He preached that we are one human family, and so was a threat to patriots everywhere.

The heretic stood nakedly human, luminously alive, threatening all who live behind masks of morality and certitude. He was called a heretic because he stood outside any system of thought. He was called a traitor because he stood outside any system of power.

The Heretic knew that every human being craves love, but still we make our peace with fear. Thus we live out our days in cages we call “freedom.” In his day, the caged birds descended to silence the heretic who showed a way out of captivity. His sin was to remember the song of the human heart. His greatest crime was to remind clergy and politician alike of their own captivity.

The heretic lived before the church that would be founded in his name. Beyond his own words, he never approved anything the church would later say in his name.

“Forgive them, they know not what they do.” The heretic knew that love does not awaken easily in wounded hearts. His own pain was as nothing compared to the pain of the pious whose love is narrow and shallow. His own fear of dying was as nothing compared to the fear in which the obedient live out their empty days.

In the end, the heretic was struck down, but those who crushed the flower were washed in perfume and have scattered the seeds of beauty far and wide.