Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Outlandish (05/19/11)
TITLE: Under Cover Of Darkness
By Lisa Fowler
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From my window I saw crowds gathering in the marketplace. The walls of my tiny home shook as they stomped and ran past at a hurried pace. The pulse of the gathering crowd quickened. Laughter of unruly children grew more annoying with each passing moment and I pondered the reason for the multitude.
There were no planned meetings this day but an occasional impromptu gathering was the norm in our village, especially during the sweltering days of summer. As temperatures rise, tempers flare. Often sudden conflicts arise; but by the sounds emanating from the crowd, this was anything but the typical heated assembly.
I tried to continue my work but the noise made it impossible to concentrate. I felt anger rise up within my belly. I was seconds from exploding into a violent rage, when like the sudden, welcome calm before an impending storm, a mysterious stillness silenced the waiting multitude. Curiosity consumed me and I rose to join them.
I inched closer to the front for a better view. Women gently caressed sleeping babies and the same children who were moments ago running wildly along dusty pathways, now sat captivated and sill. Bearded men with uncommon contented looks softening time hardened facial lines, stood quietly listening to the stranger before them.
Slight of stature, He appeared rugged but not particularly handsome; certainly not one you might instantly mark for a leader. His words were soft and not akin to our outspoken Jewish rabbis. He spoke of loving one’s enemies and of turning the other cheek; phrases unconventional to the Torah’s familiar instructions of an eye for an eye. In fact, the more He spoke, the more His words seemed to defy many of our ancient Jewish laws. Everything within my being wanted to scream out against these teachings. After all, is it not my duty as a Pharisee to speak against such things? Yet I stood as the crowd stood; mesmerized and unable to speak.
I scanned the faces. As a righteous leader of the community I would expect all eyes watching my reactions as this Leader spoke, yet I caught no wayward glances. Instead, every eye in the massive crowd appeared fixed upon the small stranger standing before them. What hidden powers did He possess to hold multitudes such as this spellbound and silent? Who was this man?
After a time I backed away, slowly. Winding my way through the waiting hordes I again reached my home. The crowd dispersed and the village slowly returned to its previous humdrum state of affairs; yet for days afterward, a solemn undertow of both
calm and restlessness engulfed the village like a fog.
His words replayed again and again in my mind and though I struggled as a bear with a honeycomb full of angry bees, I could not break their hold. They haunted and troubled me. Powerless, I had to know more.
Shadows blanketed dusty paths. My spirit snickered and mocked. Of all the outlandish ideas - a Pharisee, hiding under cover of darkness to reach this man called Jesus. Fighting back fears of the night and the temptation to pray aloud I whispered “please, let me remain hidden from all who might recognize me.” Over and over again I rehearsed the words I would say as I journeyed. When I reached His camp, oddly without hesitation I began to speak.
“Rabbi,” I began, “by your own words I know you are a teacher sent from God. Please, I must know more. You speak of men being born again yet I am old. How can this be? Can I enter again into my mother’s womb?”
“Nicodemus!” Strange, He knew me, though we had not until this moment, met. His words cut my waiting spirit like a finely honed blade. He spoke of blowing winds, of water and of spirit, of both Heaven and of flesh. My mind could not comprehend His words but my whole being longed for that of which He spoke. I listened intently, but saddened and puzzled, I soon left the stranger; yet through the days and weeks and months to come I grew to understand just what it meant to be born again.
Today, I stand again before this Jesus, as Joseph and I tearfully prepare His body for burial. He said in three days He would live again. Outlandish you say? Ha! I remember thinking that very thing not so long ago.
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