Christ's Journal Part 10
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I had to go before the local magistrate, affirm his honesty; then he was freed. I said to the magistrate:
"I came into this world to help men see..."
Last week I cured lepers on the Jericho road, men and women, all in rags. All were afraid of me, afraid of themselves. I thought I could change their minds but their minds were in tatters like their clothes. One man thanked me, a young man from Tyre; the others, quarrelling, pus.h.i.+ng one another, tearing at their rags, left the road to crawl into a cave.
I asked the man from Tyre what he knew about the others but he could not concentrate on what I said: he was so moved, so pleased, so enraptured over his health he stood in front of me, smiling, laughing. He kept holding up his arms and hands-showing me. I asked him about people I knew in Tyre. He shook his head, laughed, kissed my hands, rushed off. A caravan was pa.s.sing, camels, drivers, onlookers; he disappeared among the camels, the dust.
Today I received a message: the mebakker at Qumran has invited me to return to the monastery for a second residency. He wants me to instruct others in the Messianic Rule.
I am no longer in accord with Qumran's rigid communal life: such sharing would be difficult for me; certainly none of my disciples would understand.
But I think of the Qumran desert; I think of the cliffs and caves near the monastery. Morning and evening shadows! What great fogs used to engulf us!
I spoke outside the temple and, as I spoke, men and boys picked up stones to throw at me.
Sadducees want me excluded from the temple; others want me excommuni- cated. They stamp me an untouchable. Such intrigue! How am I to help mankind? My disciples urge me to leave Jerusalem. The world is beautiful, they remind me: Go to Cana, go to Bethlehem, to Galilee, to Jericho. Date groves. Olive groves. Roses. As if I needed a reminder.
This afternoon I walked about Solomon's city to an impressive ruin, a series of roofless rooms, fallen columns, weeds growing through marble floors, lizards on walls. Birds dotted the sky. I tried to imagine the regal furnis.h.i.+ngs of Ptolemy's time. Underfoot were hieroglyphic slabs, a cartouche among them. I climbed old stone walls, were they Nehemiah's walls when he fortified the city? I found a broken scarab and remembered Egyptian words my mother taught me as a boy. In the street below the vast ruins a Roman soldier talked with another Roman soldier. Herod's workmen were capping stone pillars.
Tall men in dark red robes, red turbans on their heads, prodded camels, heavily laden animals. Were they Syrians?
Somewhere along the way I met a blind man led by a boy. The sun sent sweat down the boy's face. Tired, they sat by a spring where women and girls were filling jars. People recognized me and soon a crowd formed, as I rested. The blind man, wearing a sash woven with gold, white-bearded, tall, erect and proud, asked about me. The boy whispered desperately to him.
"It's Bartimaeus and his son, from Jericho," a woman said.
"Son of David, have mercy on me," Bartimaeus pled, speaking softly.
Then he cried:
"Lord, have mercy, that I may receive my sight. Are you Jesus of Nazareth? Will you help me? Will you touch my eyes? I must see again."
I sat close to him and talked to him, the aura of his faith evident.
As we talked I realized he could see: his expressions were so startling. He embraced his son. Erect, silent, he stared about him.
Everyone was silent. Fumbling a little, he walked away; then, he returned and knelt by me and kissed my hands.
"Master...let me follow you... I believe...let me be one of your chosen...let me tell others what you have done for me. I know about your ministry." He kissed my robe. "When I heard you speak yesterday I tried to reach you."
He urged me to stay at his home; perhaps he had heard me say that fox have holes and birds have nests but the man of G.o.d has no home. I warned Bartimaeus not to look back if he put his hand to the plough.
Lately I have not seen much of Judas. He refuses to visit me at Clibus' home. I hear that Judas has quarrelled with the daughter of Pilate. Faithful to our group, he collects and disperses funds. Our group is increasing in number-committed to everyone. Some of us provide food, clothing and shelter.
A nomad group is famine stricken. The babies need sugar and salt and we have provided packets by way of a caravan.
Through Clibus I have written a letter home. Mother will find someone to read it aloud. I don't want Mother and Father to come here. They dislike the city. Father has been unable to work and needs to husband his strength. He must avoid danger.
Getting up at dawn I have been able to memorize lines from Horace, lines that help. The tiny garden helps. The children help. But when John's cousin, Elihu, came, distortion returned as we talked of John's imprisonment, torture, death. Elihu is a frail soul, so unlike John. He is so in need of encouragement. He tells me that a storm flooded homes in Nazareth. They did the best they could with shovels and baskets.
look forward to resurrection. The promise of resurrection sustains me although I am, at times, confused, confused because resurrection means a blurring of the future, perhaps a cessation of the future. I can not plan a sabbath. I can not say "We shall meet together at Samaria." Since the beyond is truly incomprehensible today is distorted as well.
I must warn myself of the onslaught of pain that will crush me during the crucifixion. How to bear it? Gird my loins, perhaps. It will not be easy to die for my fellowmen. Will my ascension help others rise from their tragic lives?
Dread eats away at me.
Hate undermines me.
Broken covenants...Golgotha, place of skulls...rocky Judea... Caesar Augustus, your crimes are everywhere...imperator...killer!
I need to be baptized with love.
Yesterday, in this city of rocks, I noticed straw in a stable, yellow straw, fresh, clean, glistening in the sun. I took a few. Straw is simplicity. Simplicity points to a balanced way.
Christ's Journal Part 10
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Christ's Journal Part 10 summary
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