Tom tries to learn to swim and gets extreme sunburn in the process
Jesus, Thursday July 13
I went to see how Tom had been getting on with his swimming lessons late this afternoon. Peter said he had been difficult to teach and was full of his own ideas about what needed to be done, but eventually he had got the hang of it and could now swim ten yards without swallowing half the sea or getting into a panic.
What neither of them seemed to have noticed was how sunburnt Tom had become on his face and arms and upper body. Maybe Peter thought he was glowing with the effort. Tom had always been so careful to keep completely covered up that his naturally milky skin, even paler than mine, had never built up any resistance at all. After a day spent half naked under a searing July sun, he looked like he had been dipped headfirst in blood.
I thanked Peter for his efforts. Not only could we now all confidently get about Galilee by boat, but these two strong-minded but very different men had had a chance to build up a rapport.
Tom eventually noticed his sunburn when it hurt him to bend his arms back to get into the robe I was helping him put on. It was worse when the cloth – not exactly coarse, as you’d expect for an assistant scribe – dragged across his skin. I won’t try to spell the various screams and shouts he let out as he dressed and then walked home, but they made his fussing the other day, when he thought the boat was going to sink, seem positively manly.
His condition has grown worse since I got him home. He is too ill to eat but is just about managing the odd sip of water. He is in bed in a darkened room but can’t lie down, and is sitting up leaning very gingerly against a stack of pillows. I knew he was bad when I offered to bring his papyrus and pens and he refused.
I would like to be able to heal him but I’m not sure how. Perhaps God can’t cure sunburn, or maybe the problem is that it’s not caused by a demon, or could it be that Tom lacks the faith to be cured? I remember Cyrus telling me not to think about this kind of thing too much, because doubt can be the healer’s worst enemy, so I won’t. I will simply pray for Tom’s recovery and I’m sure that will have an effect over time.