Today was better. I rose at dawn and walked a few miles along the shore in the hope of finding some of the fishermen at work. I found all five, including Philip. Peter and Andrew were back with their old two-man boat and were already doing some repairs to their nets, their haul of fish next to them on the shore in baskets. James and John were running their larger boat with Philip as one of the crew. They looked to have had a successful night and were still sorting their catch.
Peter rushed over to greet me as soon as he saw me approaching. I put out my arms to embrace him but he knelt down, head bowed and to the side of my knees, his arms around my legs.
“Master! Master!” he sobbed. It was touching, and I was pleased to find at least one of my closest followers still had his old enthusiasm, but it was a also a tad embarrassing. I told him to get up, then put my arm around his shoulder and walked him back to the others.
They were all keen to restart the mission, which surprised me slightly because they looked so contented back in their old ways. They were enthusiastic about going together to the synagogue in Capernaum on Saturday, and I suggested that I come down to meet them here later in the week to make arrangements and talk about what we had all been up to. I wanted to tell them about my trip to Jerusalem and my plans for the future. They said it would feel like starting again and they looked forward to it. After a brief chat I left them to their work.
Mary was out on the farm all day so I didn’t get an opportunity to talk to her about my plans until dinner this evening, and then she said she was tired and could we speak in the morning. She went straight to bed and asked me not to disturb her when I turned in.
It gave me a chance to sit and think about my last conversation with Joseph, who I always called Dad. He was very frail and was having trouble breathing and speaking, but he was clearly pleased to see me and didn’t take his eyes off my face. He told me how proud of me he was, and he encouraged me to do whatever I felt was the right thing with my life, whatever anyone else said.
“You only live once, you know,” he whispered. “Make the most of it, and if you can save the people of Israel to live with God in the new Kingdom, then good for you. And if you ever decide to go back to carpentry, you’re a good craftsman and you’ll never be short of work.”
I was hoping he might be about to tell me who my real father was, but then he settled back on his pillows and closed his eyes. He never saw me again.