Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: YEAR (05/17/18)
- TITLE: 726000+ Days: A Long Year So Far…
By Noel Mitaxa
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What? Is somebody invading our Nowhere Land? How crazy would they have to be? What could they want? And how could anyone remember my name after all this time?
“Caleb! Caleb! Are you in there?” The voice seems somehow familiar now, but so much stronger than it should be.
“Yes, I’m here. But you should – get away while you can. You’re in danger. And you don’t belong anyway.”
What’s happening? When nothing happens here to mark any today as different to its yesterday. Or its tomorrow. Or any other day. And the rest of the world likes it that way. Or it did until now. Do I actually hear a burst of laughter out there, in response to my warning?
Colony life has always quiet - if being locked away in your memories can be called a life.
Existing on scraps of food that nobody else wants; such a contrast with all our family celebrations – or even a basic everyday meal. Fresh, crusty bread; a cheese or two with some broth to warm our stomachs. What a memory, but impossible to relive.
“Caleb! Caleb! Are you in there?” That voice won’t go away. Or is it just another dream that’s mocking our misery?
Oh yes, those big Temple festivals brought everybody from everywhere; and we were so happy and holy. Ahh, wonderful memories of the colours, the incense, the smoke billowing up from the altars; the chants of the priests and the praises of the crowds. All now gone and all out of reach.
That’s the worst part. The gut-wrenching loneliness.
But that voice is still there.
Shuffling towards the glare outside, and holding my sleeve over my face while my eyes adjust, I fill what’s left of my lungs to shout, “Unclea….!”
But I’m interrupted. “Caleb! It is you!”
Despite the glare, my eyes are wide open. It’s Ben Hobed! Only he’s different. No rags. No limp. Raising his arms to show that his odorous, suppurating ulcers are gone. And all his fingers are back!
“Yes Caleb, it’s me – but I’m not alone. Look!” he says with a grin and a nod over his shoulder. My eyes are on stalks as they try to take in seeing Jebedah, Isaac, Aaron, Meshech, Gibeon, Josiah, Joseph, Ezekiel and Marcellus. All healed, just like him!
They’d left the colony to go begging two days ago; knowing that even generous folks would rush away from any alms they might leave out to be collected.
But now they come over, with no sign of the leprosy that they had left with; and that ignored any divides between Jews and Samaritans like Gibeon, or Gentiles like Marcellus.
“Hey everybody!” I shout back into the cave. “Come out as fast as you can – you won’t believe your eyes!”
My call is met with grunts and moans, but shuffling sounds inside are getting louder, until everyone is with me. And curiosity morphs to astonishment written across our astounded facial remnants.
Before our eyes are ten ecstatic ex-residents of the Nowhere Land of our leper colony. All somehow now able to stand and to move around freely. And our questions start flowing.
Aaron raises his now-perfect hands for quiet. And secures it.
“Two days ago, near Sychar, we found crowds of people who were all excited about this new Galilean rabbi called Jeshua. We heard them say he could heal people, and he was headed our way. We looked at each other and asked ourselves – could he heal us too?
“We couldn’t get too close to the crowd that swelled around him. But with nothing to lose but our leprosy, we shouted out “Jesus, Master; have mercy on us!”
“We felt exposed but warm at the same time as he looked our way and yelled back, “Go and show yourselves to the priests!”
“We never got to see any priests. We didn’t need to; for we could see and feel the healing sweeping over us all. And now here we are,” he said. Then, with a warm smile and a new clarity in his eyes, he added, “Jesus has set us free, although we regret now that only Jebedah went back to personally thank him. But next time we hear that Jesus is coming our way, we’ll come back to bring you to meet him. This is all too good to keep to ourselves.”
I thought we could only agree – as the inner warmth of hope began to encroach on our tedium…
Author’s Note: Luke chapter four records Jesus in the Nazareth synagogue; declaring his personal fulfilment of Isaiah’s prophecy: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
My title comes from a basic count of how many days from approximately 30 AD to 2018. This is because - though Isaiah’s prophecy describes the Jubilee Year of the Old Testament Law in which debts were cancelled and slaves were set free – Jesus keeps stretching the year of his favour.
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