Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: RELATIVES (02/15/18)
- TITLE: Unexpected Repast
By Donna Powers
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I’d thought this darkness impermeable. And yet…
Could that be fresh bread?
After the nightmare of today, I suppose my nose could be playing tricks on me: conjuring up random scents to evoke comforts out of thin air.
The darkness tonight was thick and dark as pitch; I’d leaned heavily on John’s arm as I strode home. My feet should have been sore, but I hadn’t noticed – because the pain in my soul had obliterated most other sensations.
Joseph and the boys had gone into town because they couldn’t bear to go with me – so, they couldn’t have prepared bread.
John opened the door; peering inside to be sure nothing was amiss. He turned and nodded. I went in.
“Elizabeth!” I called out, with a burst of joy. “Oh, cousin, you are surely sent by God! Did you truly make fresh bread? It smells heavenly.”
“Oh, Mary – of course I came. Who else would understand? Weren’t you there for me when my John died? Please sit and have some bread.”
I dropped into the chair and basked in its solidity. Slices of fragrant bread sat before me. Yet, I couldn’t partake.
“Oh, Elizabeth!” I cried out. “How can they have done this to Him?” I’d thought my grief had been spent on the walk home, but it welled over again. Elizabeth’s arms enfolded me, and I was soothed by the balm of her embrace. Slowly, I considered the bread. John was eating with vigor. How could he eat? Well, let him find what comfort he could on the day his best Friend had died.
The fresh smell of bread beckoned again, but still I could not eat. I felt I might never hunger again. I’d known Jesus’ destiny since His birth, and yet, to watch… The pain He surely felt; the rejection; the scorn… it’d pierced my soul as surely as if I’d been there on that cross, beside Him.
Slowly, I became aware of other voices. Out in our courtyard; men’s’ voices; none of them Joseph’s. Elizabeth explained, “It’s the rest of the Twelve.” Then, she corrected herself. “I meant, the Eleven.”
The change in that number brought the sadness back to me afresh. I’d spent many afternoons with Jesus’ chosen Twelve, laughing and dining in that very courtyard He’d called them His disciples, but He’d been closer to them than to his own brothers. To think one of them had betrayed Him was unthinkable, but… there He’d hung; just this afternoon.
I stood, shakily. “They will be inconsolable, Elizabeth. Can we make more bread for them?”
She smiled. “I already have.” John stood and offered me his arm. “Of course, they came, Mother. Jesus has bequeathed me to you as a son, but surely the other ten are also part of His family –
and, therefore, have come to be with you and each other on this terrible night.”
I picked up my own bread; surely, I’d never eat it, but surer still Elizabeth would not let me go outside without it. Outside, I let my eyes gaze at them and knew John had been right. These men were truly my new family; whatever their individual destinies might be, Jesus had drawn them together and therefore they would join me in our ongoing grief.
I sat at the outskirts of the courtyard, as John joined the men. They’d see me when they were ready. But before they did, my eyes were drawn to a furtive figure in a nearby cluster of bushes.
Yes, Judas! Forgetting everything except what he had once meant to me, I called out, “Come, join us!”
He whispered, “Not so, Mother Mary. I shouldn’t even be here. You know what I’ve done. They hate me. They might even kill me!”
“Oh, Judas. Don’t you remember what He said on the cross? He asked God to forgive the ones who had hung Him there. That includes you. Please join us. They may be angry at first, but I believe they will learn to forgive.”
His tears engulfed his garbled reply as he shook his head “no.”
Impulsively, I wrapped part of my bread in my shawl and held it out to him. He took it and ran; heedlessly away from redemption.
Sadly, I sat. Inexplicably, my hunger returned, as the darkness began to slowly dissipate. The bread tasted like the smile of heaven.
Definition of “relative” (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/relative)
“a person connected with another by blood or affinity”
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