a modern-day interpretation of the mind of a disciple
I’m not at all happy with this, but I’m posting it. There is so much of me and my thoughts and what-ifs that have gone into this. I’ve also been influenced by bits of other biblical interpretations, like Godspell and Jesus Christ Superstar, which are not-so-incidentally both musicals. If you have questions, please ask. And I promise my next post will have nothing to do with religion!
Where are you going?
Where are you going?
Can you take me with you?
~lyrics from “By My Side”, from the musical Godspell
It’s a hot day; the sun has been scorching, but we’re all outside anyway, lounging in and around the pool. Most of us are thinking about our upcoming plans for college, summer jobs, girls and having fun. You’re thinking of something else. I know, somehow, that nothing that we’re thinking matters.
Your eyes are dark. Not like blackness, like a storm. As you turn to me, the sky dims, grey clouds creeping in to obscure the world around us.
“It’s time,” you say simply.
I can only nod.
One of us boys got a beat-up RV from his old man. It’s seen at least twenty years, and it smells, but it runs. For the next several weeks, months, years, it will be home.
We drive, not too far. We sleep restlessly at night, crammed too close with the heat sunk over us like a fog.
You don’t sleep. You don’t drive, either, and none of us ask. We don’t ask anything, not even who are you.
You are awake, always, watching the world pass by through the windows. You will tell us when to stop.
We’ve stopped in a town that’s hardly a town; more like a space where a few houses have sprouted haphazardly. There’s a church and an abandoned old firehall, a sole gas station with a convenience store that has seen better days.
But a little ways down a gravel road there is a park, inexplicably. There are families there, picnicking, throwing around a ball. I want to join them. Most of the guys do, too.
You get out and we follow. You stand near a basketball hoop, and we gather around.
The people come.
You talk, words I’ve never heard from you in quite such verbosity. We are in awe, I think, even though part of us knew. We knew.
When you finish, an hour or more later, someone gives you water. They watch as we pile back into the RV and move on.
You should eat more, I think, and I start on dinner.
Three months later it’s a bigger town, a larger crowd, but we are long used to these numbers. There are more of us, too; cars and a yellow school bus and another camper follow as we move along.
There is a woman here who cannot see; another with laughter that rings out over the noise of the crowd, and I see you stare. You touch them both, somehow, and they join us.
One is mesmerized by the new and dazzling shapes, colors, and people around her.
The other, I think, is mesmerized with you.
Another city, another crowd. Six months have passed and we’re all still here, still growing. College is a memory that never happened. Our partners, our families are long left behind. You don’t think much of this, I know, but we do. The rest of us do.
For weeks there have been police at our gatherings, but they’ve never been needed. Not until today.
A mob came at you from a local church. Their leader threw a stone at you, struck your cheek, drew blood.
Back in the van, you’ll only let her tend to you. The girl who laughs. Mary.
Later, you ask me, “Was it worth it? Leaving her behind?”
I think of her long dark hair, the shape and light of her eyes when she used to smile at me. I remember how her small, warm hand used to fit into mine, and long evenings spent lingering in the back seat of my mother’s car. “You are worth everything to me,” I answer honestly.
“This is worth everything,” you correct me, and bid me goodnight.
I see Mary kiss you, you kissing her back. I know now that I was wrong to question your humanity. You’re human… but you’re something more, too.
You’re more solemn than ever, but also happy in turns. I know you’re happy because of Mary. I think you’re solemn because we’re drawing close to something. I don’t want to know what.
I lie in bed at night and think, is this forever our reality? I remember yesterdays of orderly days, a home with my family, baseball and beer and dates on the weekends.
I’m glad that you love now, but I wonder — will you sacrifice your love too, as we’ve all sacrificed ours?
I wonder, will life ever be normal again?
Every day the people fall more in love with you, with your message. As I have. As have we all.
Two days ago we drove into a town close to home, and the streets were lined with people, singing your praises.
Lingering behind them, many were shaking their fists.
Something will happen soon. You’ve warned us. I don’t want to know what.
Judas is angry now. He’s losing patience. Yesterday he confronted you about Mary, and now he’s bitter that you defended her. He doesn’t want you to love like we love. He doesn’t want you to be human, I think. He has his own vision of what we’re establishing.
I see him slip away from the group often, and I wonder where he goes. I worry.
No, I’m not worried.
The community is on holiday. A local man has offered us a place for tonight, a cabin on a hill. Someplace safe, away from the increasingly volatile crowds.
We eat there, at the cabin, a simple meal of bread and fruit and cheese and wine. But when you offer them up… the way you offer them up…
We are all starving, but almost too unsettled to eat.
Tonight, you are the only one talking, in riddles and stories as is your way. Tonight, it is hard to listen.
Some of the things you say aren’t cryptic enough. Predictions — of death, of denial, of betrayal. Some of us will forsake you.
Our hands meet over a basket of bread; our eyes meet, and I know I am among them.
But how can that be?
I want to scream at you, beat you; everything feels wrong.
I want to hug you, sob into your shoulder, make it right again.
Later that night, you depart to pray. Alone, you insist. I cry myself to sleep, and when I wake, all the world has gone to hell.
There are men surrounding us, strange men, angry men. Cops and men and that horrible preacher.
I want you to stop them, pacify them with your magical words. But you are silent. You won’t speak out against this. You won’t let us fight, not when I beg you to. Not when Mary pleads with you. Even she’s not laughing now.
Humanity, apparently, will not win.
You look at me, and lightning flashes. Thunder roars; I hear it as though it were inside my own head.
They take you away.
What has happened here? Where are you going? Can you take me with you?
I wonder, will life ever be normal again?
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Anne Marie is a writer and entrepreneur. She lives with her husband and daughter in PA. You can find her at her online home, www.inspiration-kindled.com, or follow her on twitter @InspireEach_Day.