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Tender Figs of Faith
by Julie Michaelson
11/07/09
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There was a man
of the
Pharisees
named
Nicodemus,
a ruler of
the Jews.
This man
came to Jesus
by night..
[John 3:1-2]
**********************
(An older man is
sitting comfortably,
under a tree, in the
soft, pale morning light.
It is very quiet; inside
the house, the family
has not yet begun to stir.
Nathaniel has been up,
for quite some time;
he has been deep in thought.
Suddenly, his sharp eyes
detect movement, and he
recognizes a familiar
footstep.)
***************************
(Pause.)
(Quiet voice.)
"Good Morning."

(The man, just
stepping out of
the shadows, nods.)

(Nathaniel picks up
his cup of water.)
"I was sitting out here,
last night,
Nicodemus.....
when I saw you."

(Nicodemus has just
stepped out of the
doorway of his room;
he has not slept
the entire night;
his movements are
weary and hesitant.)
(Pause.)
"Ah....
yes."
(Imperceptible nod.)

(Nathaniel sits back,
against his pillow.)
(Sets his cup down.)
"It was.... very late."

(The other man
remains standing;
he is suddenly
very still.)
"Oh?"

(Curious gaze.)
"Yes."
(Nodding.)
"At first,
I wondered......
but, then I saw
your face..
in the shadows,
and I knew."

(Nicodemus sits
down on the low stone
wall, which surrounds the
back of his house.)
(Quiet voice.)
"And,
what was that,
Nathaniel?"

"That.....whatever
nocturnal visit, you
were about to make..
it was not about..
sin."

(Nicodemus' eyes widen
with horror, and
then gaze, with
understanding.)
"Ah!"
(Sigh.)
"No.
No, Nathaniel!"
(Look directly
into the older
man's eyes.)
"It had nothing to
do with ...THAT."
(Shakes his head.)
"No.....no!
But...how could
you TELL?"

(Quietly gazing.)
"Your face:
I saw.... fear."

(Nicodemus remains
stock still.)
(Silence.)

(Nathaniel continues
to work on a wooden
bowl; his woodwork
artistry keeps him
busy, in his older years.)
"Hm....yes.
And, I began to wonder,
of whom would Nicodemus
have FEAR:
GOD?
Or, perhaps.......
one...of,
his PEERS?"

(Look away.)
"Nathaniel, I....."

(Nathaniel looks up,
suddenly, from the
large wooden bowl
in his leathery hands.)
"You don't need to
say anything, my son.
It is not necessary."

(Nicodemus sits very
silent, for a moment:
watching his father-in-law's
hands cutting, and shaping
the bowl. The air smelled
fresh and clean, this
morning. A gentle coolness
is touching their faces.)
"I do not wish to cause
any trouble, Nathaniel;
you have to understand."

(Nodding, absently.)
(Eyes intent on the wood
carving tool, in his hand.)
"I do understand,
my son......
that,
not all of your peers,
are...
your friends, eh?"

(Sigh of relief.)
(Whisper.)
"No."
(Their eyes meet,
for one moment.)
"No, Nathaniel.
They are not."
(Gaze searchingly,
at the older, weathered
face of his wise father-
in-law. Nathaniel had
known him, since the days
of Nicodemus' youth.)

"Hm, hm.
Yes; of that, I am
aware."
(Nathaniel sets down
his carving tool. His
sharp eyes meets a pair
of tired, and very
wary eyes.)
"Tell me;
what do you
think of Him?"

"Ah.....ah.
Oh!"
(Sudden smile!)

(Nathaniel smiles;
his leathery face
crinkles, into bright lines.)
"Hm; yes."
(Curious gaze.)
"You know;
I saw Him,
once..
in the town."
(Nod toward the
eastern side, of
the low stone wall.)
"He was just sitting there,
alone....
with a blind man;
His hands were touching
the begger's eyes."
(Whisper, almost to himself.)
"I could not understand...
what I was seeing...
but, I knew....
I just knew."

"Well."
(Nicodemus sits
himself, more comfortably,
on the stone wall. He looks
up, for a moment, and
sees a cluster of figs hanging
from one of the small trees,
behind the house. The figs are not
yet ripe; they are still tender,
and need more nourishing.)
(Long pause.)
"I ......
I...
believe,
Nathaniel."

(The older man hasn't
moved, for several
moments. The air in
the back of the large
house is very quiet.
Just now, the
murmuring voices of
the servants can be heard,
from the front of the
awakening household.
Nathaniel picks up
his carving tool, again.
He leans back, and begins
to work on the bowl, once
more. The smell of fresh
wood chips fill the morning
air. Some moments pass.
Nathaniel looks up,
quietly.)
"And,
so do I,
Nicodemus.
So,
do I."
*******************
For God
so loved
the world
that He gave
His only begotten
Son,
that whoever
believes
in Him
should not
perish,
but have
everlasting
life.
[John 3:16]





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