I hardly know what is happening at the moment. Until a few months ago I lived a peaceful life on a small farm, enjoying beautiful views over Lake Galilee. Not long ago I offered to support my husband and a few close followers in their preparations for the end of the current world order, when God would come to rule the world directly. Then he surprised me by becoming a famous exorcist and preacher, in this part of Galilee at least, and somehow I ended up with hundreds of strangers camping on my doorstep. Then thousands of us stood in line for a night and a day to await the arrival of the Son of Man. Then it didn’t happen and most of the followers deserted the camp, leaving behind a complete mess that could take months to clear up. But the hundred or so that remain are even more set in their beliefs than ever and want to start preparing for the end all over again. And on top of all that, my husband has cleared off to Jerusalem for Booths, leaving me alone and confused.
If only Cyrus was around. He has revolutionised the running of my farm, done deals with my oppressive neighbour that I could never have hoped for, increased my income and even rescued the camp from chaos and the campers from starvation. And he’s charming and reassuring, and he helped transform Jesus from a hesitant beginner into the leader he is now.
But with no Jesus, no Cyrus and a group of men no doubt expecting me to help look after them while they plan their next mad mission (maybe Tom was right), I decided it was time to make a move. I told my servants to keep the door locked to absolutely everyone, saddled up a donkey and headed south. If Jesus can travel on the Sabbath then so can I. I’ve done it before anyway and wasn’t struck down.
I stopped at the usual inn around midday. The innkeeper wasn’t working as such; he just had water and food set out on the counter with a box to put money in. And he talked, because talking on the Sabbath is not illegal. He told me ‘that Jesus fellow’ had stayed there the previous night, and ‘that sidekick of his’ had been there the night before. Then he told me he had heard strange stories about some sort of doomsday cult gathering at Magdala that had ended up in disappointment, and said he wondered if Jesus was giving up.
I said that knowing Jesus he would bounce back, but then of course he wanted to know how I knew Jesus, and I told him it was just a figure of speech. Then he asked if I knew Simon the fisherman, the one who hears voices and who saw Jesus perform all kinds of miracles. I said I knew of him, but I didn’t say how much trouble Peter’s voices had caused recently. He just wouldn’t shut up, so I drank up and left. At least now I knew I wasn’t far behind Jesus and had a reasonable chance of catching him before he reached Jerusalem, especially as I had brought the best donkey.
It’s never comfortable travelling alone as a woman and I particularly wasn’t looking forward to going through Samaria on my way south. In the end I chickened out and headed for Nazareth to see if I could stay with Hannah and Tom for the night, despite it being out of the way. I still have to get through Samaria, but if I get up really early I should be able to avoid having to spend more than one night there.
Hannah seemed genuinely pleased to see me and has been really kind. I wasn’t sure how Tom would react but he looked more relaxed than I have seen him in years, and although he has turned completely against the mission he didn’t hold anything against me. Indeed, over a really nice dinner he embarrassed me by saying how incredibly supportive I had been to Jesus and his hundreds of followers over recent weeks, and how Jesus didn’t appreciate what a wonderful wife he had.