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by Terry Lee
Not For Sale
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“Move that beam, quick! You there, help that woman out!” As the rescue worker screamed at others, many more were scrambling to remove debris from the bodies trapped in the rubble. A small earthquake had leveled a part of the outskirts of Jerusalem. Among the workers was Bartholomew, who had just happened to notice Martha who was visiting a sick friend.

“Martha, are you OK? I saw the terrible shaking and the stuff falling from buildings and homes. I wonder if it hit Jerusalem? You look frightened; what is it?”

Stammering and shaking; “I'm fine, but I am worried about my mother; she just left me as the buildings started to crumble; saying she was going to the market. I am afraid she may not be alive. We came to visit a sick friend, but never made it there. I hope our friend is alright. (Clutching his sleeve), By the way you haven't seen my mother have you? She just took off from me; it's so strange. She has a mind of her own sometimes; she was here one minute and then she was gone. I hope she wasn't caught in that last shaking.”

“No, I haven't, but we will find out. Help me here, we have to help these others to safety; this looks bad, but I don't think any are hurt.”

As they clammored about the ruins, several were pulled out safely, but more were trapped among the rubble. Many were helping and it looked as if all would be OK, as many were just mainly shaken. They encountered Philip, nearly out of breath, as he came running down the road;

“Martha; thank GOD you are alright. I knew you and Nahdia had come here; I came as soon as I heard. You'll be glad to know that Jerusalem shook some, but no damage. James and John are with Jesus down by Galilee. I have no idea about the others. 'Bartholomew, I didn't know you were here too?' Where is Nahdia? Come all, let's go to the city where it is safe.”

Explaining about Nahdia, they quickly they left the area. All the while frantically looking for Martha's mother. They passed the well where they knew she would have had to go by, if she were heading to the market. Seeing another woman they knew;

“Desrolini, have you seen my mother?”

“Yes, she had passed here as the earthquake hit. See all this water? It was amazing! The well gushed like the great fish!” Waving frantically as they hurried away; Oh, your mother looked fine, don't worry!”

Running away; “We see, yeah, that's great.” As Martha rolled her eyes; “Which way did Nahdia go? Toward the City?”

“Yes; she said something about going by Jehu's vegetable booth. Try there!”

Stumbling along the rock-strewn road, they encountered several people heading in the same direction. It seems most people were fleeing into the city, to escape another tremor. Many were just dressed with what they had on. Mothers clutching their babies, oxen and donkeys, people with their meager possessions all cluttering the dusty road to the City of Jerusalem. Entering the 'Fish Gate', many were crowding the entrance; cripples, the poor, people selling animals and birds, all looking for a meager hand-out or a skimpy sale. Bartholomew and Philip, arm in arm with Martha, pulled her along.

“Come on men. I can't keep up; let's slow down some. I am getting tired.”

“Don't you want to find your mother?”

Giving them a stern look; “Of course I do; but if I'm dead, what will it matter?”

“Come Martha, we will find her. Here, we are getting close to Jehu's place.”

Getting to the vegetable market was a challenge, with all the people about. There were carts and animals everywhere, plus an enormity of people. All were talking about the earthquake and most were scared. Somehow, the trio managed to find Nahdia. She didn't venture any farther than Jehu's because she was enamored by the many fine vegetables. Crying with tears flowing down her cheeks, Martha said;

“Mother, thank GOD we found you! I was so worried! How could you just walk off like that?”

“Look, Martha; look at this pomegranate. . .and. . . .and these fresh olives! Have you never seen such fresh things?”

“Mother! We have hurried to try and find you and all you can say is; 'Look at these pomegranates?' What were you thinking? Come with us and we will go and find the others. Sometimes I think you are losing your mind!”

“Nahdia, come old woman, I'll eat your pomergranates.”
With a wink in his eye, Philip motioned the others to follow as he put his arm around Nahdia's shoulder.

“You are such a nice young man Philip” as she stared back at the others.

“Really, can you believe that? Why do I worry about her? One day, she will gone and I won't have to worry about her so.”

“Now Martha, you worry too much”; says Bartholomew. “Soon, we will see the Master; come now.”

Weaving through the city, the four managed to get to Martha's brother's home on the opposite side of Jerusalem. All were tired and give out. Just dropping to the floor, amongst a variety of pillows, blankets, and soft straw rugs, they all sighed a sigh of relief. Laughing out loud, Lazarus offers them wine;

“Well, I am glad to see everyone. I heard about the little shaking that went on in the City. It's no big deal here; I hardly noticed a bottle clink. Mary has cooked lamb. Here, take a piece; have some bread as well. Mother, I am glad you and Martha made it well enough.”

“She scared me nearly to death.” Martha, resting with a curious look about her; “Mary cooked? Are you sure we can eat it? By the way, where is she? How did you do it brother? I can't ever get her to do hardly anything!”

“Ah, sister, you fret so; just eat and let the girl alone. She has gone to draw water and wait on Jesus to get back. All should be along shortly.”

All were resting and eating when James poked his head through the door; “is everyone alright? The rumble has had everyone talking.”
Then, Mary, John and Jesus came in. Bartholomew spoke up;

“Master, we are glad to see all of you are OK. The earthquake shook everything, but we managed to get Martha to safety, and her mother.”

“Mother, you found the pomogranates delicious looking? And the olives?” Jesus quizzed Martha's mother. “Friends, you have witnessed a stressful time, but yet Mother Nahdia had no fears, for she looked toward a finer reward. She was moved to go her own way; thereby possibly saving her own life. When you are compelled to do the right thing; everything else means nothing, for your quest is at the bequest of the Spirit. Learn from this; worry has it's own reward, but faith becomes a blessing in disguise.” Then, turning to Martha; My sweet Martha; have faith, for do you not know by now, (motioning with His hand), all of these are covered? How is it I knew of the pomegranates?”

All were amazed at the wisdom of Jesus. As they pondered the day's happenings. Mary came to Jesus, pouring Him some wine;

“Rabonni your mother is sleeping; come, she will want to see you when she awakes.”

As Jesus went through the doorway to the other rooms, all the room began talking again; feeling the power of being part of the family of Jesus. The few disciples who were there, took mental notes of the teachings; encouraged in their hearts. Refreshed, Martha stood;

“Let me get you some more wine and lamb. James get your feet off of that wine jar. This place is a mess. Now, where did that girl run off to; right when she is needed most? . . .What are ya'll staring at?”

They all broke out in laughter.

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