Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Cousin(s) (05/22/08)
TITLE: Letter From Prison
By Alma Vida de Leon
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A rat just tried to nibble the sole of my left foot. There are many of them here, as many as those in the king’s palaces—though not as gluttonous and corrupt. I come to prefer their company than that of the king’s. The rat king is actually afraid of me, the reason why he never dares show his face anymore. But he has many followers who desire a piece of me. If I won’t keep stirring, the next thing I know, they are chewing on my fingers, then on my hairs, and eventually they’d be biting off my head.
Days are slow here in prison. The walls stink a reeking odour of filth and grime. Two of my messengers just came back with your message. They said you never said yes, but you told them to tell me and show me the things that you have performed.
My heart is stirred within for the news of you, but have you heard the rumours about me? They say, somebody just requested for my head during the king’s festivity. They want to decapitate me—rats they are—they want to put my head in a platter. I feared awhile. My heart smote my breast. My eyes had been swimming in tears since last night when I heard the rumours. I asked God, what have I now done? But when the two messengers just came back with news about you, my heart was stirred once again to glory; my faith was strengthened in grace.
I remember our childhood days, how different and difficult it was, especially with the boiling cauldron of the Roman Empire and the zealots. Unlike other children, it was not play for us, but preparation for the great work that the prophets of long ago prophesied about you and me. You were gentle, meek and kind. You loved reading the Scriptures and sitting at the feet of the doctors of the law. I was the brash one, and loved the outdoors, but we were the best of friends, until we parted for I had to go to the wilderness and you had to learn carpentry.
I am six months older than you remember? But when you speak you speak the wisdom of the ancients that’s why when we were together my six months don’t matter. I have come to learn more from you, than you from me. Remember how my mother told Aunt Mary that I leaped in her womb for joy of your visitation, while you were also yet in your mother’s womb.
My heart leaps for joy, now, too! If my feet had not been prevented by these rusty fetters, and these my hands are not chained to this reeking wall, I would leap! What glory to hear the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, and the lepers cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead rose up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them!—O I knew it! Was it not I who heralded your coming? Was it not I who pointed them to you way back there when we were reunited in Jordan? Remember how I was reluctant to immerse you into water baptism? But now just the memory of you bathes my heart with your graceful spirit. I am sorry if I doubted you for a while here in the depths of my dungeon and seeming abyss of despondency.
Now, I anticipate your visitation. Though I know how busy you are, and how demanding the crowds are. Remember, I had once my share of reputation too, which led me to this place. O, I know you won’t fail me, cousin. Only you can set me free. You are indeed the Messiah, my Saviour.
However, if the executioner gets to visit me first before you do, even if they serve my head in platter, they can take my head but not my heart. For my heart belongs to you. I would not get offended of you.
P.S. If I go home first, I would all the more anticipate our reunion then. It would be grander than when the heavens were opened at Jordan.
That same evening John the Baptist was beheaded to please the daughter of Herodias.
His head was served on a platter upon her request.
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