Christ's Journal Part 2
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At Cana, Mother greeted me. There were old friends among the guests.
Miriam was beautiful, more beautiful than I remembered. I thought of Solomon's song as I watched her, "Thou art in the clefts of the rock; let me see thy countenance, let me hear thy voice, for sweet is thy voice and thy countenance is comely..."
After we had eaten Mother came to me and said "there is no more wine... Miriam is distressed...a wedding without wine!" she exclaimed, gesturing toward the guests at their outdoor tables.
Certainly it was Miriam's day. I thought of our friends.h.i.+p through the years and I decided to change water into wine, a token to their youth and their happiness.
I called two of the servants.
"Fill the water pots with water...now empty them into the wine pitchers. There will be wine for everyone."
"It's good wine," I heard someone remark.
Miriam thanked me and I hoped for acceptance on the part of everyone.
A beginning has been made, perhaps a seal or symbol had been placed on my ministry. I tasted the wine on my lips as I walked to Peter's.
Before I had gone any distance Andrew and Phillip criticized the miracle. They said I could change a man's soul as easily. They were afraid. Mother, walking with us, defended me and ridiculed them.
Alone, I struck out across a grain field where men were dismantling a tent; behind a stick fence donkeys brayed; day was closing behind its fence of clouds; I felt that the men dismantling their tent were also dismantling time.
Alone, the happiness of the wedding returned.
I tasted the wine.
ather is too old to work and I want him to sell one of the Magi gifts, help himself and Mother. This has been a poor carpentry season for him and for others. No use has been made of the gifts these years but he won't listen. He will not so much as hint where they are stored. Where else but the synagogue? He is afraid of the wealth, of robbers...
It is easy to get him started about the Magi. His eyebrow c.o.c.ks, his head tilts, he pulls his beard and settles himself, legs crossed. He describes camels, accoutrements, attendants, a long, long story, growing longer with the years. The star and the angels are always there. He becomes eloquent like someone who had dabbled in divination.
Mother is p.r.o.nouncing their names. She is fondest of the Babylonian king.
"He was tall and stately and wore a dark blue robe. His hair and beard were snowy white..."
It was a harsh journey into Egypt, some of the time without water, the heat so overpowering they walked at night. At an encampment, Egyptian soldiers provided food while Mother rested a few days. A sergeant repaired her sandals. They followed an ancient caravan route, asking for help. They lived with Gabra nomads-borrowing a white camel, a day or two. Father says "she was a real princess on that camel!" They hid in a hutment from Herod's men, his troops pa.s.sing on maneuvers. A lone traveler gave them dates and bread. They begged eggs at a caravanserai...a little goat's milk...a little meat.
Mother praised her donkey. He never refused to carry her. For a while they stopped under sycamores where it was cool, a pond nearby. But they were very hungry. There, under the trees, the donkey died. They thought they would never get back to Israel. Father had the Magi gifts sewn to the donkey's pad but when the animal died he had to carry everything. Utterly disheartened, they trudged on. They got lost. There were sand storms.
Mother begged him to sell the gold cup. "It's not mine to sell," he objected. But he traded Melchior's coins, "for the sake of our boy."
So they survived. Herod's men continued to haunt them; then they learned that he was dead.
"Despicable men do despicable things," Father said. "Rome is the great instigator of crimes. The Kittim! Political schemes are hatched in the Forum with the wild beasts. Rome appoints a governor for Jerusalem; the man is in exile so he devours us, his subjects."
Last night I lay awake most of the night, haunted by these ghosts.
The past can be a simoom. Maybe it is a good thing when today's problems wipe out yesterday's problems. When the oil in the lamp burned out I tried to find oil in the storage shed. There was no more. At dawn I read my favorite psalms.
A thousand hoplites marched through our town. Drums. Horns. Thud of spears.
Many people fled.
Last month the hoplites caused a riot in Naim.
I am unable to countenance such hirelings. I am unable to countenance military death.
Friends are still troubled by my miracle at Cana. As a group of us walked to Jerusalem their annoyance went on and on.
In Jerusalem I was annoyed by the bellowing of cattle, the bleating of sacrificial sheep. An ox screamed. Dust rose from underfoot as I jostled turbaned men... A woman in a striped veil blocked my way.
Pa.s.sing Herod's temple I searched for sky. Men had worked for years to build that temple-was it for dust and smoke?
At the temple I stood among money exchange tables and listened to men haggle. A strange, dark, b.e.s.t.i.a.l man lorded over everyone. At an ivory-topped table men quarreled and spat. A sacrificial trumpet shrilled. I grabbed my taliss, the one Father gave me. Knotting it into a whip I struck the money from a table. Coins spun. An exchanger howled. I lashed another table, upset it, then another. A crowd jeered as I demanded that they honor the temple.
"This is man's place of wors.h.i.+p. You offend G.o.d. Look, what you're doing... take your money away...you know our temple is sacred. G.o.d's temple is a temple of peace."
Later, when a judge demanded an explanation, I saw my own disrespect, my own violence. He was a lanky, stone-like figure, grey-haired, grey-faced, palsied. He understood my rebellion, the rankling perturbations of my life.
"I'm a Greek," he said. "I realize your alienation. I'm new here. I have much to learn. When a man revolts there is usually well-grounded reason. But be careful! The next time there may be fines or punishment; another man may not be lenient."
That night, after scourging the temple, I dreamed of home: I was working at the carpenter's bench, making a three-legged stool. I finished smoothing the legs and sat on the floor, Whitey beside me.
She was playing with a heap of shavings.
Again I had that illusion that time was mine, that the suns.h.i.+ne and flies and smell of olive oil and earth would never leave me. And I thought, as I worked on the stool, how pleased Mother would be when I finished it for her birthday. I glanced at a mark on the wall and wondered if I had grown taller.
A storm. The lake. Two fishermen drowned. Tents blown over. Next day as I bury the dead a little girl comes and throws herself at my feet, a flower clutched in her hand. What does death mean to her?
Christ's Journal Part 2
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Christ's Journal Part 2 summary
You're reading Christ's Journal Part 2. This novel has been translated by Updating. Author: Paul Alexander Bartlett already has 333 views.
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