+JMJ+ Welcome to Part 9 of the continuing story of A Journey, which began in my mind as a short story for Holy Week but morphed into something larger and is still morphing even now. (It even goes back further than that when I first had this idea to write a novel for National Novel Writing Month, but I didn’t get far with it then.) I’m writing the rough draft moments before I post it here on the blog, and just so’s you know, I really do mean rough when I say that. I have already made a list of a bunch of things that I’ll likely change in the re-write(s) and some things to experiment with some more. This whole adventure is a way to come up with the raw material to work with, like digging for my own clay and then working with it to discover what’s hidden there and how to work with it to bring out what is hidden within it. The more I write this story, the more I discover about it. Okay, enough of that. Let’s go. See ya on the other side. :)
A Journey – Part 9
I don’t know what he was trying to pull, but if he was trying to win me over to his “side” then he was going about it the wrong way. I felt ambushed, caught off-guard. Off-balance. Bullied. A moderately good dinner ruined. But they pleaded with me to stay and against my better judgment, I stayed.
Wine was poured, bread was shared, words were said. I had already decided not to listen to a word of it, not Nicodemus, not Jesus, not Rachel. Well, wine is said to loosen tongues, but it must’ve loosened my ears, too. I found myself listening if only to refute their arguments, or to help me refute them later after more study and consulting with some others. I’m not too proud to admit that I don’t know everything there is to know about the Law and the Prophets. And though the Writings are embedded in my heart and mind, I do not know everything there is to know about them, either.
But this Jesus–it’s as if he knows every word of every scroll and its proper interpretation, too. No, not the proper interpretation. It can’t be. But when he speaks I find myself half-convinced, no, more than half-convinced. When he speaks, the words sear themselves into my very soul and I find it difficult to argue with him. It’s as if whenever he speaks I see things clearly that I’ve never seen before, and the impression stays with me.
At one point he noticed that we had finished the wine and I thought this would be a good time for me to say goodnight. I needed to think. So much had happened, all on the inside. On the outside we’d been friends sitting at a table, sharing food and conversation. On the inside my whole world had been turned upside down and inside out and I no longer knew who I was or what I was to do.
All of this took place in only a moment and the next moment he moved to the doorway at the top of the stairs and called, “We have no wine.”
And a woman’s voice replied, “Is there no pitcher of water on the table?”
“I’ll do whatever you tell me, but now is not the time.”
“Well, let me drop what I’m doing and wait on you and your friends. I’ll be right there!”
Uh oh, I knew I should’ve left already. She sounded irritated.
“We’ll be right here.” I could see his smile in the lamplight. I could hear her sigh all the way from here.
Soon we heard footsteps on the stairs and then there she was, the mother of the rabbi, and even though she had sounded cross before, she didn’t seem cross at all as she carried the tray toward the table. The smell of bread wafted toward us. I didn’t realize until that moment how late it was and how long we had been talking, but enough time had passed for us to be hungry again, so the tray of bread and olives and fruit and even some fish, was more than welcome. And the wine was truly excellent. It could have been my imagination but it seemed even better than the wine Nicodemus had served earlier, and he is enormously proud of his selection of fine wines. (I wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t invest in some vineyard soon. He may have already. Everything he touches succeeds. I wonder if he would give me some tips.)
My sister Rachel seems very fond of the rabbi’s mother. I have always had great respect for her. During our trips to Nazareth my father would spend long hours talking with Joseph and son, leaving me, when I was young, to spend time with the mother. She was called “Mother” by so many, even then when she was not very old herself. She had this way of making you feel that you had her full attention, as if you were the most important person in the world. She still has this way about her. And she’s much less unsettling than he is. Her son, I mean.
Joseph was much like her. Always ready to lend a hand, ready with a kind word, and they seemed to know what was needed. Surely they had arguments like all people but I never heard it. This evening was the first time I ever heard her sound cross but I think she was playing. I know he was. Her son, I mean. There was a gleam in his eyes when he goaded her. Could have been the lamplight but I think the gleam was there.
He asked her to leave off whatever she was doing downstairs. “Mother, stop being such a Martha, come be a Mary.”
“I am a Mary just as much here as I would be there.” “Got me there.” “Oh, alright. I’ll join you. But just for a while.”
The night sky was radiant with innumerable stars. As she took a seat, he removed his cloak and wrapped it around her shoulders. I didn’t notice until then how cool the evening had become.
Now the evening became charged with something different, all at once, the mood completely changed. The rabbi picked up some bread and as he broke it, he handed each of us a piece. Then he poured wine into our cups. I can’t explain it but that moment is etched in my memory and I don’t know why. I keep trying to remember what it means but it’s like trying to remember a memory that was never there and was never mine.
Then he looked at me and I don’t know what happened but for a moment I saw a figure surrounded by warriors and he presented bread and wine to the leader of these warriors, a great warrior himself. With a start I recognized these two main figures and I wondered why I saw this image then.
Then I heard the words again.
But how can I?
I’m reading these words that I’ve recorded here. I’ve read them several times already and remembering the evening and what he said. Only he said so much and I can’t remember most of it. It must mean something but I didn’t understand it then and I don’t understand it now. I’ll file it away in the back of my mind to ponder later.
The next morning I asked Rachel if she ever tended to that matter in Galilee and she said she was headed there when she received word to meet her friends, that it was urgent, but she promised to handle it personally in a few days. But first she has to help Nicodemus and the rabbi (well, his mother) prepare for the rabbi to celebrate Passover with his disciples.
Earlier I’d hoped that my fears were baseless. Now I only hope that she is being kind to old friends of the family and not getting mixed up in this, this, whatever it is. I admit that when he speaks my heart burns within me but now, in the cold light of day, I wonder if it wasn’t the wine. He does have a certain something about him. I see why so many are drawn to him.
And I am torn. I want to believe him. I want to believe what the people are saying, that he is the promised one. I want to believe he can restore the kingdom. But I sense an impending doom that may swallow up all I hold dear. While he’s off visiting and holding forth, plans are being made by the Sanhedrin. My contacts sent me word and I tried several times last night to warn him, but every time I tried to speak of the growing danger, he interrupted me and spoke of something else until he distracted me so much that I forgot.
I suppose he knows and doesn’t need me to tell him. But I’m worried just the same. And not so much for him as for my sister. For our family. And, yes, our family’s wealth, our property and, I admit it! My status in the Sanhedrin. I hoped to be married by now and have children. I hoped to have something to pass on to them that would be worth something. I hoped that Rachel would make a good marriage of her own–but the more she becomes involved with these revolutionaries (that’s what some in the Sanhedrin call them), the more likely we are to lose everything. I can’t make her see that it matters. She won’t think about it and I can’t think of anything else.
End of Part 9
Now that this is going on past the May Book of the Month, ongoing story links will be on the Fiction page.
Well, I’ve got some more notes to make about this part. I don’t know when I’ve looked forward so much to a re-write but I’m certainly looking forward to this one. For now I’m enjoying playing in the mud, I mean clay, I mean raw story. I hope you’ll join me for the continuing experiment, but if you want to wait for the completed version, I’ll understand. No, really, I will. No, really, I’m not kidding. I get it completely. But if you do stick it out with the rough draft and then the novel, too, well, then God bless ya, and bless your heart, and I mean that from the bottom of my heart.
Thanks for visiting and reading. Until next time, whoever and wherever you are, please stay safe and well, virtuous and holy, and most of all, let the Spirit work in you so that you become who you were meant to be: a SAINT! (Hmm, I wonder if our main character is ever going to become a saint?) May the Lord bless and keep you and yours, and may His peace be always with you. +JMJ+
Image in the cover: From the east, Nazareth, Holy Land, from Wikimedia Commons, public domain.
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