The Jesus Road

 by Brian Doyle

One time I was deep in the Navajo Reservation in the deep

Vast desert in Arizona and I got to chatting with a shy man

In a pub. He was nursing an ale and I was nursing a whisky.

He ran sheep, he said, and what is it that you do for money?

I told him I was essentially a storycatcher. A journalist, you

Might say. You take stories from people for cash? he asked.

Well: yes. They don’t mind? he asked. Generally not, I said.

In fact often they are grateful to have someone tell some of

Their stories. For everyone has a thousand, and only lets out

A few. This is true, he said, this is true, and he told me tales

Of growing up nearby, near the San Juan River, the gracious

River, he called it, as it never ran dry, and his was a parched

Country, to be sure. We got to talking about souls and spirits

In everything, there we pretty much saw eye to eye, although

He was startled to hear that I walked what he called the Jesus

Road; most of the folks on Jesus Road, they think they know

Where spirits are and are not, he said, but what do we know?

One great thing about being Dineh is that we know what we

Don’t know, which is mostly everything. So you treat a spirit

With respect even though you cannot see or understand what

It is doing. Animals, trees, rivers. Anything alive is a spirited

Being, that’s clear enough to see, but the mountains and cars,

Well, who can be sure? Better to be respectful. How pleasant

To find a Jesus Road man of the same mind about reverences.

I would stand you a second drink but I must be off to my job;

The sheep have no patience if I am late. They are taskmasters,

Those sheep! I leave you then as a new brother in the praying

That we do by being respectful to spirit wherever it is located,

Whether we are sure where and how it is, or not quite so sure.