+JMJ+ Here we are at Part 20 of the rough draft of A Journey, a novel set in New Testament times. And at this milestone (49% now and I’ll be hitting and passing 50% in the next part) I thought it was high time and past time to write a new introduction.
I began this project with the idea of writing it during Holy Week for Holy Week. But life happened and the writing didn’t. Or, rather, the writing did happen but not the way I’d planned. For one thing, I did not plan to write in First Person narrative. I don’t usually like to read First Person narrative and I am not used to writing it. But that’s the way I began hearing the character speak so I went with it. After all, I have been trying to write this story for a number of years, so when things finally began to move, however unexpectedly, I happily tossed aside my plan and grabbed my trusty laptop and held on for the ride.
The story has so far taken me where I had never expected to go. For years I did not know my character’s name. Now I know his name, that he has a sister, her name, that he has some well-known friends, and that he has conflicting emotions and ideas about a certain rabbi and his teachings and his followers and about what it means to be faithful to the Lord.
He’s there to witness the early Church forming, though he has no way of knowing that in the beginning of the story, or even now in Part 20. All he knows is that a group of apostates, sectarians and heretics are causing trouble in Jerusalem and they have somehow tricked his foolish and headstrong sister into joining them. Her stubbornness may cost him his prestigious status in the Sanhedrin or cost him his wealth and standing in the city, or even in the land, or worse.
But what could possibly be worse than that?
And now, the journey continues.
(You can catch up on the rest of the story so far on the Fiction page.)
A Journey – Part 20
Second Day for the Second Time, Monday
If I thought they were crazy before, now I know they are all insane. All but Thomas. We were away when it happened. Correction: When what they allege happened. Because there is no way that it is in any way possible that what they allege happened could have happened. I will never believe it even though my own sister insists that she saw it with her own eyes.
Saw him, that is. They all of them say that the rabbi–him who the Romans crucified until he died–walked into the room where they were gathered and stood in their midst and spoke to them.
Do they think we are stupid? Do they think we are idiots? Do they think that we share their insanity? That we share their morose and morbid motive of lying, even to the point of dying, for their beloved, revolutionary, and very much dead, rabbi?
I have not lived as long as some of them but I have lived long enough to know that the dead do not walk through doors or walls to walk among the living or to speak to them. And as for the charge that he is not dead because they watched him as he ate–I cannot imagine how they think this can be a convincing detail. The whole thing is outlandishly ludicrous. I have a good mind to throw Rachel over my shoulder and carry her home forcibly before she shames herself and our family any further. If she makes it impossible for me to carry her, I will drag her by any means possible. I will not allow this to go any further than it already has.
And as if it were not bad enough to hear about this ghostly appearance to his disciples, quaking in fear, all of them, as they hid from the Council and the Romans (why, our own return nearly frightened them out of their wits), then two more of them came bursting in–through the door, mind you, after knocking to seek and having sought, gained entry (as we ourselves had done)–claiming that he had appeared to them on the road and had expounded upon the whole of the Law and the Prophets and how it all spoke of him. Well, I never! Where then was the famed humility I am always hearing about?
Then they talked of some other things which I did not understand at all. Something about breaking bread and recognizing him. That was all too much to bear. To hear them tell it, he was some sort of embodiment of the Temple, and the Presence of Adonai Himself is bound up in their tale, but I wanted nothing of it and I stormed out of the house into the night.
The tentmaker had given me plenty to think about during our meeting. I did not tell him of my knowledge of the rabbi’s followers or that I had been having dealings with them, but I am sure he has enough spies of his own to know at least some of what has gone on. He is still trying to figure out where I stand on the matter. Do I approve of my sister’s involvement with these heretics? Oh, if he only knew what they were saying now! He would probably rip his clothes, rip his hair out of his head, and rip the ashes from every house in the city to cover himself if he had heard but one of the shameless lies I heard after I left him.
He wants to know, I am sure of it, if I would be willing to help him identify the rabbi’s followers so that they can be watched. I surmise that he has, indeed, heard that the body is missing. That is not something that can be kept quiet for long, though some in the Council hoped it could be. And he thinks that I would be interested in pointing them out to him. That I was friendly enough to the rabbi and his followers but that I would betray them now, knowing that I was not one who agreed with the plan to trap him and hand him over to the Romans for questioning, much less flogging, even less for execution!
And I was not party to that. But now that these people are poisoning my sister’s mind so thoroughly and completely, my heart is breaking and I only want to free her from this stranglehold, this power they have over her. Some have said they would die for the rabbi, and I am so afraid that she could be one of them.
And I am so afraid that–no, I cannot believe that it will come to that. Surely no one will cling to this ridiculous story once they realize the danger they are putting themselves in. The way this tentmaker talks while he is not even aware of the turn things have taken, convinces me that I was right to decide that Rachel’s time with these apostates is at an end. Things have gone too far and I will not allow them to go any further. Not in my family. How would I face my father and mother of beloved memory in the afterlife should I allow their only and well-loved daughter to come to harm?
I take comfort in the fact that Nico and Joseph were not there gathered with this gullible ghost-courting crowd. I am to meet with them tomorrow. I hope I can count on their help to get my sister away from here, away from the dark mood that hangs now in the air over the entire city. I know they cared for the man but I do not think they will be so lacking in discernment as to accept these tales with no proof.
And that reminds me of my friend Thomas. If the tentmaker offers again for me to join him in the next phase of his search for the revolutionaries, as I think he well may, I am considering asking Thomas to join me. He alone, of all of his fellows, seems to have a good head on his shoulders. He does not accept these ghost stories as legitimate proof of anything at all other than imagination gone wild or the tempter having a most entertaining yet damaging time, seeking to enter the souls of men and women, good souls all, and having sought, then gained entry, and caused them one and all to stumble and fall.
End of Part 20
Other parts of the continuing story are linked on the Fiction page.
Note: I have to stop editing these things after I post them. I find a few typos or missing words, and next thing you know I’m revising the whole thing. Must. Stop. Editing. Now! But I did correct four places where I left out a word or an entire phrase. So there.
Thank you for visiting and reading and for waiting an extra day for the post. 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 daily 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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