Tom and Jesus visit Nazareth and get a frosty reception. Tom’s wife thaws when she sees what he has brought her
Thomas, Wednesday August 30
Left Magdala with Jesus after an early breakfast with the workers. I had slept badly, worrying about not having had the nerve to tell Cyrus about my recommendation to Mary about how to deal with Matthias’ claim on her land. As we were leaving he started to tell Mary about his plans for planting new vines, and the strip of land he thought would be particularly suitable for the purpose.
“What!?” I heard him yell behind us in the distance, after I had grabbed Jesus by the elbow and marched him off at a fast pace. I heard Mary trying to calm him down but I didn’t dare look back. For an easy going man he has quite a temper.
A day’s walk can be a long time to find things to talk about with someone you’ve been talking to almost constantly for days, weeks and months, especially when he’s more in the mood for thinking. The silence gave me a chance to think myself, but that wasn’t what I needed. I needed something to stop me thinking. The result was like one of those nights when you wake up worrying when the sky is at its darkest, and everything seems far worse than it does in the day, except this was the middle of an extremely hot, bright day. I thought about a lost career, a lost family, a lost home town and potentially, if the end of the age doesn’t come, a lost credibility. And, if I were cast out from society, a lost health and a lost life.
After that it was good to reach Nazareth, even if it had rejected me. At least I could console myself that it had rejected Jesus more completely than me. He started attracting looks almost straight away, but I managed to ignore them till someone said,
“Oh look, it’s Rain Man and Drizzle.” Then I realised they had rejected me just as much as him, with the added insult of classing me as inferior.
I left Jesus at the door of his parents’ house without stopping to say hello, and carried on to my own home. I was sore and thirsty as well as glum, so I saved what jollity I had left for my own family.
Everyone was in tears when I arrived. My day wasn’t improving. Sam had been insulted at school because of me, Ruth was despairing of ever being able to secure a decent marriage and Hannah had dropped some freshly-washed sheets in the dust and would have to do them again. Mary hadn’t been to visit since I was last here, and all three looked gaunt with hunger.
I put my parcels on the table and hugged and reassured each of them in turn, not daring to complain about my aches and pains and thirst. I helped myself to water and opened a food parcel to share out. As I did so a gold coin fell out, hitting the table with a distinctive clump.
Hannah’s face went from old moon to full sun at the thought of how this incredibly generous gift could transform the lives of her and the kids. Leaving aside my disappointment at being left out of her plans, I pointed out that it could have been dropped into the parcel by accident, and that to keep it without saying anything would be tantamount to theft from a generous benefactor. After some argument we agreed that if it was a gift we should thank Mary profusely anyway, and if it was a mistake we would give it back. Either way, silence would be wrong. Anyway, there was fresh meat, bread and vegetables in the parcel and some dried fish, so we set some aside for the next few days and set about preparing a much-needed meal.
The children were much happier when their stomachs were full and went to bed smiling. Hannah and I have sat and talked for a short while and now I’m being told to stop writing and come to bed. You can forget how good the world can be when you’re preparing for it to end.