Listen to Justine read this story - Get the RealAudio Player here if you need it.

Friday Night

When the angry thief's wife - his widow - saw the stairs where her husband used to run, with all that strength and with all that life, used to run up the stairs with the baby on his back, she began the sobbing which would not end until daybreak. Because of the sobs, their child, who had spent the long day with a neighbor woman, the child watched with wide eyes this strange creature in her mother's garments, with her mother's smells, lie on the pallet shuddering.

The women who loved the quiet thief walked slowly to their homes where his father sat, uncompromising and silent. The son had brought disgrace upon them all. The father's own load of love and longing for that dead son was buried under long years of reticence. Even now, he could not comfort - nor be comforted.

The women moved quietly around the house - watering plants, feeding the dog, bending to stroke a cat. These familiar tasks reminded each that the brother would never be there again to see the plants, race with the dog or sit with the cat curled in his lap as he told his stories, and remembering that, a sob would rise in their throats. Then, the father would jerk his head up and they would hold in their breaths, they would hold in their sobs for fear of recrimination on top of their grief - out of love for this man who would not admit his loss. Later that night, the daughter who had sat at the foot of the cross came home, dry-eyed, and stood rubbing her father's neck wordlessly as he sat staring at the floor, she staring out of the window at a dark blue sky.

In John's home, a few women sat with Your mother and Mary from Magdala. The Magdalan's rage underlying her grief was so strong that a cat raced from the room and later curled into a ball and watched the woman through heavy lids.

Your mother sat, her hands loose in her lap, staring into a space they could not share.

      After the Acceptance, there had been Joseph's faith;
      The Wonder shared with Elizabeth,
      and then,
      The birth.

She could see her child at her breast, with the dark curls pressing with sweat against her arm and breast, one hand held in a fist of ravenous hunger.

She saw Him again swimming - with that straight back, with the beautiful skin, darker now, because of the sun.

She saw the rabbis in the Temple, with their own mixture of love and wonder in their eyes as He asked His questions or, answered theirs.

She remembered his anger at fourteen when a poor man had been hung to a cross for a small theft. Now she had watched this Son die upon a cross and He had committed no crimes, even the governor had found Him guiltless.

This Friday required another Acceptance.

This Friday, ten men tried to sleep but sleep would not come. Judas hung in his own darkness and John had taken Mary to his home. But the others? Whatever they had fantasized of a Messiah, now lay dead within a tomb, and worse, they had fled in panic on Thursday night and stood well back of the hill's crowd on Friday.

They who had bathed with You in rivers, walked with You through rain, the ones who had learned to say "abba" too, all had felt the hot bands of self-hate and grief searing their chests as, still afraid, they stood behind the gaping others as Your blood coursed to the ground.

They had watched in their own shamed horror as one soldier poked a hole into Your side, that blood and water spurting, some falling on a soldier. He cursing, brushing it from his arm. Ten men, unable to watch, but watching from the outer edges of a curious crowd. Ten men, the women, some friends and some doubters watched as the blood from Your side slowed and then traveled down Your naked thigh, over Your twitching knee-cap, along the muscles of Your leg and over ankle bone until it met with the now crusting blood of those feet and dripped finally into the ground beneath the cross.

Those ten? To try to sleep after such a witnessing to horror?

Those ten? To try to sleep after such denials?

All that was left to them were the fragments of their memories:

      of a sea that had been calmed
      of a multitude that had been fed
      of the crippled who had been made whole.

Then, knowing they were cripples too, they slept.


Back to Stories Menu
Back to Main Menu