They killed him yesterday and it was awful, as you might expect. Crucifixion, like a common criminal — but he wasn’t common, though now he’s a criminal. He broke their laws, which I guess are our laws.
No. He confirmed our Law. Justice: fulfill the Law. But the Romans didn’t want justice; they wanted quiet.
Now he’s dead, and it’s quiet.
Too quiet. Whispering trees makes you jump. Roman centurions can climb trees as well as tax collectors. Most of us are here, except the ones with families, except the women. I heard one say they’re going to the tomb tomorrow. How women talk!
Peter and Judas aren’t here, either. God knows where they’ve … so now I say it out loud, most of us aren’t here. And the rest are in a room, alone together.
James and John were here earlier, talking revolution — “Sons of Thunder” he called them. Hard to recall why.
OK, yes — James was talking the louder. John kept stopping mid-sentence, thinking, remembering. “But if … what about … ” he’d say, and then trail off, and then James would begin again.
I stopped listening but can’t stop wondering.
It’s a sort of vigil, I guess, not being able to sleep. Last night some of us couldn’t stay awake; now we find our bodies forcing us to.
And they were some of the top guys, too, I don’t mind saying, now that it’s over. I don’t just mean the 12 … 11 … even the leaders couldn’t hack it last night. Take that as you may.
OK, Thomas is asleep. That guy could sleep through an earthquake.
If they come for us, we’ll run.
Did I say that? Did I think it?
Walking to Jerusalem … Adonai, not two weeks ago … we said and thought differently. And it was different when Jesus was alive.
I said was.
Don’t know how he can be dead — we certainly never thought of that.
Of course we know how — three nine-inch nails rammed into bone, and a ten-foot spear jammed into his side
“Son of God,” he said. They all said it. We all said it.
What did that man say? Help my unbelief.
Did he mock him then as we want to now?
Augh! We saw it. We saw him healing, feeding, teaching … and Lazarus. We saw Lazarus.
Thomas would know — I mean he’d remember. He’d want answers, like Judas always wanted receipts, but you know, once he gets something in his hands, he’s solid. Right now he just sleeps.
Me? I don’t have many questions, I don’t think. I only wish Jesus were here to say it all again. He wouldn’t even have to say it, because he’d be here, and it would be enough that he was here.
My father would say when you die, you’ll have fewer questions than you thought, but the ones you do have are really, really big. It was true when he died, and now that we might die, I’m trying to focus on just a few. But the problem is, when someone else dies, the questions come rushing in.
But if he weren’t dead, I think we wouldn’t have them again, or we wouldn’t care. We’d just sit, listen — no crowds, even, and no tumult. None of that “loaves and fishes” business.
That’s what we started calling the craziness, when the rabbi would heal someone, or send his questioners, again with the questions!, away, more confused than when they came. And there would be a problem, and we’d have to move on, leave in the darkest night, or cross that lake in thunders and hail. We started calling those times “loaves and fishes” moments. And everyone knew what you meant.
Turning over the tables and thrashing the moneylenders — that was another one. Coins zipping!! into the air and they didn’t know whether to grab at them, or try to cover up their heads and hides from his blows hammering down on them.
Loaves and fishes.
Of course, now I’m hungry. All this talk of food. I know it’s odd. Time like this.
We’d do it all again, mind you. He was the Christ. What else was there? Who?
We’d trudge up and down Israel again, if only he were here. And happy to. Just as thrilled to do nothing, of course, and we could skip all those side trips to Samaria, if it’s all the same to you.
Gehenna! How he loved going to Samaria.
Best not to think too much about it. My dad again: don’t make promises when you’re hungry — none you wouldn’t make when you’re full. You say things, he said. You say things, you’d never say at midday meal. You make promises you know you won’t keep, and that you’re pretty sure you won’t be asked to.
And yet, there it is. What would we do?
There are parts we each remember, so when you lay them out in a line, it nearly makes sense. But it’s so late, and it’s so dark.
“Yes, Lord,” we said. We said that a lot.
I think we might say it again.
But mustn’t promise.
Peter made promises, and we all had to agree because he was in one of his moods. And it wasn’t midday, but the sun had only just set, and we were full, and my father was right about the pledges: it was so easy.
And Jesus, again, didn’t seem to be listening.
“When you have turned,” he said to Peter.
Like he knew.
Pointless to go on and on about it. Yes, yes — if Jesus were here … but he’s not, and we are.
We’re awake because there’s nothing better to do and it feels safest. And, anyway, we aren’t all awake. The women said they were going tomorrow but tomorrow maybe they will say something else. I might go later, when it’s light out. I don’t know.