Christ's Journal Part 11

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Yesterday I walked to Bethany. Martha and Mary said that Lazarus had died. Among graves and stunted trees, in a stinging wind, I became keenly aware of the days I spent at their home, with the three of them. How often Lazarus and I had done carpentering under his thatched shed.

Here, with his sisters, friends and relatives, here at the tombs, I knew death was not the answer. I walked to the crypt where Lazarus lay. Loose rocks tumbled underfoot. Wind whipped. A boulder blocked the crypt and I asked Martha to have her friends help me drag it aside. Men consulted and argued that it was useless; they glared at me savagely as they pushed and dragged the stone.

At the opening I bent over and cried:

"Lazarus...come... I am the resurrection and the life...come...this is Jesus!"

I needed him. His family needed him. Mary and Martha. Death did not need him, surely.

Men jeered and howled. But I knelt and shouted as the wind spat on all of us.

Ah, sorrowing women, yellow rocks, death, a man in his crypt, cold stone, a hawk screaming...

I called again and again.

"Lazarus, this is Jesus. Arise! Come with us! Remember us, remember I am the resurrection and the life. Come unto me...believe...G.o.d is here..."

It was late afternoon: the sun was behind the yellow cliff.

Martha clutched my arm and said:

"Lord, let us leave. Lazarus has been dead four days. He stinks."

A funeral procession pa.s.sed by-men and women-the men carrying a child's coffin.

"G.o.d, our Father, help us. Give this man life again!" I beseeched with pa.s.sion. I knew, as I prayed, that Lazarus would respond.

Swaying, wrapped in burial clothes, Lazarus appeared, a scarf across his face. He could not see or move his hands. I went to him and Martha uncovered his eyes. Mary ran to help. We unwrapped his legs and arms.

"Jesus has given you life," Martha said. "You are going home with us...you are one of us again."

Stumbling over rocks, Mary guiding him, Lazarus found a place to sit down. We unbound him and someone gave him a robe. Someone offered him a piece of bread. He shook his head, stared at us, turned from one to the other, his face birdlike, hawklike, white. He peered at his crypt. Martha hugged him, laughing. People gathered. Some knelt around us.

"Mary, what happened?" Lazarus began, speaking his first words.

"Why am I here in this place? Why am I wearing a robe? And these people... and Jesus! Was I sick? Where are my clothes?"

I longed to leave this place of death: it was closing in on me. The wind blew harder and a hawk leaped upward.

With Martha I walked away, listening to her happiness, her praise.

"We must have supper. What shall we eat? Will he be hungry, able to eat? Jesus, you have saved him. I love you. It's wonderful! He's back...think of it, after four days. Then, then there is no death for us who believe..."

At supper Lazarus was unable to talk; he drank a little and soon had bread wet with olive oil. No one had much to say. Lazarus sat next to me. Bending over his plate he gave me a few boyish grins-like old times. He had gotten into his work clothes. Putting his hand into a pocket he pulled out a small chisel and laid it on the table. But he said nothing. I urged him to eat Martha's fish or lamb, delicately prepared. Every face at the table expressed a wonderment and rapture.

The candles burned down. The women ate. Suddenly there was chatter and then laughter-rejoicing.

It was difficult to return to Jerusalem, leave my friends. I lingered a day for the fields of barley, the paths that were peaceful paths. I had to have time to be with Lazarus, be with Mary and Martha, write my journal. Alongside the carpentry bench I have a table. I prefer writing outdoors. There is a vine on the thatched shed and it is in flower. As I write Lazarus is sleeping on the ground, in the sun.

Caretakers at the graveyard claim that one of the crypts has been robbed.

Jerusalem

I keep hearing the words of an old hymn as I go about; it was John's favorite, one we learned while at Qumran. Was it solace while he was imprisoned? I hope it was. It is a comfort to me-so gracious.

I give thanks unto Thee, O Lord,

For Thou has wrought a wonder with dust.

Thou hast made me know Thy deep, deep truth,

Thou hast given me a voice;

I continually bless Thy name.

I seem to hear John's commanding voice, his loving benediction as I left his prison:

The Lord bless thee and keep thee,

the Lord make His face to s.h.i.+ne upon thee

and be gracious unto thee...

Ephraim

Nisan 14

I am staying at a beautiful old stone house in nearby Ephraim. I have allowed myself a respite, among pomegranate, olives, roses. Herons fly at dawn and evening. Children run in and out. A boy with s.h.a.ggy head has a pet dove. A girl with almond eyes is learning to weave. My disciples are here, the new and the old. We have met in a low room, plain and bearded men, clothes new and disheveled; Ezra shows me his injured leg; Luke works over it; Lamech (a strong youth) is from Casarea, an expert swimmer, he said.

"I will walk to Jerusalem tomorrow. I'll remain there. The high priests will accost me. They may mock and scourge me, as they have many others...but I will return." I tried to speak calmly. I could not be forthright...

Calling me "Rabboni," a pretty girl knelt in the jammed room and anointed me with fragrant oil. It was a moment of calm, a moment of beauty.

Nisan 15

Holy Week has begun.

Christ's Journal Part 11

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