+JMJ+ This is a rough draft of what will, I hope, become a novel. Every time I write I find new things I need to research, but right now I’m sticking to writing the rough draft. Other parts of the story are linked on the Fiction page. Come along with me, if you like. Our journey continues.
A Journey – Part 18
Seventh Day, Saturday, Sabbath
Early this morning I prayed the prayers I have prayed every morning of my life since I was a child. I do not remember doing it but when I finished I must have sat down on the bed, because when I heard a knock on the door, I stood to open it. The last few days are a blur. Has it only been a few days? And only one day since…
The only word I can use to describe the mood here is bleak. Hardly anyone speaks, no one has much of anything to say. Every once in a while someone begins to say something, then pauses, and then walks away with a shake of the head or a shrug of the shoulders. I am forcing myself to write this down. There must be a record of even these non-events. Everyone is so stunned, we cannot talk of what has happened, even between ourselves.
How easily I have slipped into talking of these people as “us” and as if some connection had been made. Maybe there has. No matter. As soon as Sabbath ends and traveling is allowed, I will be gone. Though, if I am honest, I do not have the energy nor the will to do anything. Strange that it should affect me this way, the death of someone I barely knew and did not understand.
The knock on the door was the one they call the Magdalene. I call her that, too, do differentiate between her and the other ones who share the name Mary. It’s a popular name in Judea and there are several women of that name numbered among the disciples.
The young disciple, John, was with her. Together they came to ask me to join the group who were having a discussion, an argument, really, about what to do next. At first hardly anyone spoke, then slowly, more voices were heard and grew louder as differences of opinion were made known.
Then a man who had not spoken up slowly rose from he had been sitting in a darkened corner, listening to the others argue. He stood where he had been sitting and spoke, his voice one of defeat and shame.
“I think we should go back to our lives as they were before. As we were before. Before…well, before this.”
No one asked him what he meant. They all understood, as much as anyone could understand.
I felt out of place listening to them. I did not belong there. I was not his follower.
The young one spoke up. “How can we go back to the way things were before. Everything has changed.” Some voices joined his, agreeing with him.
Peter’s voice cut through theirs. “You think I don’t know that? You think I don’t know what he said and did? I was there, same as you, John. I saw what you saw. He–I–“
“You walked on water.”
“Yes! Yes, I did, while I trusted him. But then I doubted and I fell. I fell. I fell.” His voice cracked as he spoke and tears streamed down his face, and he could speak no more for a time.
She caught his eye and patted the seat next to her. While he was speaking she had signaled his listeners to move over, to make a place for him to sit near her. For a moment, just for a moment, he paused and looked at her through tear-swollen eyes. Then he nearly dove to kneel at her feet, begging her to forgive him. Only Mary, the mother, and John knew what he was talking about or why he was sobbing. The others thought only that he was overcome with emotion, and he was, but not for the reason they thought. I did not know this then either.
But I am getting ahead of myself.
The decision was finally made, thanks to Peter, that everyone would go back to what they had been doing before this all began. Unless one’s life had been a total disaster, in which case one would carry on with the new way of life instead. But immediately the question arose of how to carry on with this new way of life without the one who made the new way possible?
And at this Peter began to cry again. I have to describe to you, if I can, what it was like, and how disconcerting it was, to see this bear of a man break down in tears. He seems so strong. And he is. But he is easily swayed by emotion and I know it must get the better of him at times. And this day was one of those times. And he was blaming himself for something–I did not know what then–and the sorrow must have been truly soul-crushing.
They all argued for a while but then Peter took a deep breath and stood and walked to the center of the room again. “We will pray and think about it tonight and tomorrow. Perhaps the Lord will give us a sign about how to proceed. If not, everyone go back to what you were doing before. If that is not what you want to do–or not what you should do, Matthew,” (here there was a few laughs and Matthew, the former tax collector, turned bright red) “then you can come with me.”
Many voices were raised now. “You’re leaving?” “Where will you go?” “Don’t leave us, Peter!” “But who will lead us if not you, Peter?”
His voice softer now. “I am going home. Anyone who wants to come with me can come with me. I can always use more help with the nets. Or you can go home to your families. Some of you probably should go to your families.” Here he paused and looked at the Magdalene. “You are welcome to come with me. My family will be glad to have you. Please, my home is your home.”
All eyes turned to look at her. I wondered how she would respond. I did not have long to wait. She broke into tears almost as soon as he stopped speaking. Then she told him, “Some of us are going in the morning to the–” she could not bring herself to say the word, “but after that, maybe, I could, I don’t know, I need to think.”
“That’s fine. Take all the time you need.” He turned to the look out over the faces of the people sitting around him. “All of you are family to me. But I cannot stay here. I’m going home before my business falls apart completely. I’m going home to my wife and our boats and nets, and anyone who wants to share this way of life with me, at least for a while, is free to join me. I’ll be leaving on Second Day (Monday).”
With that he turned away and walked out of the room. After a few seconds of silence, all of them began to speak at once, all, that is, except for Mary, the mother, and the Magdalene, and the young disciple John. These three sat alone with their thoughts as the others spoke anxiously around them, sometimes arguing, sometimes not.
I went to my room where I said my evening prayers, intending to work on my plan, but instead falling into a deep and dreamless sleep. When I awoke it was no longer dark.
And then it was evening and morning again.
The first day.
End of Part 18
Other parts of the continuing story are linked on the Fiction page.
Thank you for visiting and reading. I hope you’ll join me again. Until next time, whoever and wherever you are, please stay safe and well, virtuous and holy, remember, we are all on the journey to the heavenly city. So pick up your cross and follow Him, so you can become who you were meant to be: 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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