It wasn’t what my father had wanted for me. It wasn’t even what I’d planned for myself. But I’d made my peace with it and it had its compensations. Somehow this scurrying around gathering information fit me. I was driven by curiosity and liked mixing with all kinds of people, from the haughty Sadducees to the harlots and tax collectors and rogues of all kinds. When I found that people were willing to pay me money for gossip or getting the goods on someone, I let it be known that Judah of Mooreseth was open for business.
My mouth tasted like I’d dined at Gehenna’s last night. It took me a moment to separate the pounding at my door from the one in my head. Miriam and Jacob, people too decent for the neighborhood, wanted me to find the missing body of Jacob’s uncle.
I won’t admit to drinking too much wine during Sabbath, especially during Passover, but the streets were crawling with people and there’d been that nasty business about the crucifixion that afternoon. Though the high priestly prigs looked down their noses at him, and most of the Pharisees despised him, the harlots and tax collectors, those who weren’t too deep in their bitterly cynical cups, seemed almost gushing in their admiration of this strange holy prophet who openly enjoyed their companionship. How cruel to let the little hope that adorned their squalid lives be bled out on a Roman cross.
I needed something firm to wrap my addled mind around and they kept interrupting each other with this strange nonsense about people walking out of their tombs and being seen in the city! Yesterday was freakish enough, the eerie darkness, the sudden cold, the crashing of thunder and the trembling ground. I never put much stock in the plague stories about Moses and Egypt. Maybe back then, but I’d never seen anything like it. But yesterday was unnerving in the way only the grief and anger of God could be.
I didn’t see how I could help them, but my curiosity was stoked, and I needed answers.
I promised them I’d look into it and right after they left I headed out the door. If you wanted to know anything about tombs, you needed to talk to women first, and priests next, so I headed toward the well.
There was little to be gained there. I’d forgotten it was still Sabbath, and the few who were there were subdued, almost furtive, and not disposed to shooting the breeze with strangers. I did hear snatches of conversation about dead people walking into town but nothing solid.
On the other hand the Temple was a beehive of comings and goings and priests on self-important missions, even more than usual. I chatted up one older priest and he let slip some very interesting information. There was little concern about open tombs but a lot about watching to make certain one stayed closed.
As we were talking, a squad of Temple guards were setting out to watch that tomb and I decided to tag along. They stopped short at a tomb and I blundered into their midst. The head guard, a sadistic bully I’d known since shul cuffed me upside the head. One didn’t stay healthy long by confronting force head-on, so I beat my retreat, their insults trailing behind.
After a fruitless night trying to find his followers, I returned to the tomb and was nearly run over by my shul friend and his cohorts, all pomp and swagger thrown aside in their panicked flight.
Something was up, alright, and though my saner self shouted, “Run!” that infernal curiosity that tormented me compelled me forward. I saw Mary of Magdala, a sweet girl despite the devil rumors, leaving the garden with a face trapped between joy and astonishment. Then I saw the Nazarene! Not dead, but alive!
“Walk with me, Judah,” he said, part invitation, part command. “Jacob and Miriam will see his uncle themselves soon enough. Right now they will have to live with mystery.” He said so much more, things I will always remember. I’d lost track of time and distance until, when we were half way to Emmaus, he smiled and said, “ I’ll see you back in Jerusalem. Right now I have two friends to meet.”
I never solved that case, but my once raging curiosity now floats serenely in a Greater Mystery, a contented cloud decorating a sunny sky.
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