Tuesday November 21, AD 29
Cyrus turned up today on that camel of his. When he used to travel by donkey, which travelled little faster than a man’s walking pace, he generally arrived in the evening after a day’s trek from somewhere like Nazareth. Or he would arrive during the morning after staying overnight in a nearby inn. That thing moves so fast that when he arrived at lunch time he had already been to visit Tom in Nazareth after setting off from Nain, well south of there.
He brought Tom’s good wishes but unfortunately no suggestion that Tom had changed his mind and wanted to rejoin us. I still hope he will. It’s so much harder to make plans and write speeches without him. I feel like a ship without its steering oar. I’m not denigrating Peter’s enthusiasm and ability to organise, or Matthew’s intelligence and vision, or the abilities of any of the others. It’s just that Tom knew me so well that we could agree things without saying much at all.
The main purpose of his visit was to see Mary and confirm a few financial arrangements, which of course affected me too. At her request he had visited some of her friends who had previously offered financial support, to check that we could rely on their promises. One of them, Joanna, is married to an officer in Herod’s court, which worries me a bit, but I get the impression that wives of powerful men lead more or less independent lives, so long as they show up for big social and ceremonial events.
The sisters Mary and Martha were also keen to help. Martha had donated some money but needed to stay in Galilee to look after Lazarus, while Mary didn’t have much money but was willing to let us use her house and land in Bethany as a base for the Judea mission. My wife Mary surprised me by saying she actually wanted to tour with us, along with her friend Susanna and one or two others, including Jamie’s mum Mary. That particular Mary had no money to offer but was known as a fine cook and herbalist, so despite adding to the confusion of Marys she was allowed in too.
I was worried about who would look after our farm here if Mary joined the mission, but of course she and Cyrus had that arranged too. He is going to rent the farm from her, for a year initially, giving her the money and freedom she needs and giving him the chance to build on the wine-making empire he has founded here. Provided Mary is saved when the Son of Man arrives in the Spring, he could end up having the property for ever, not that it will do him any good.
Eventually we agreed that Mary would remain behind for a while longer while the men went ahead to establish the Judea mission, and then join us after that. Jamie’s mum and a friend of hers will come with us from the outset to help with domestic matters.
It’s all coming together but I still don’t quite have the impetus to make the initial move.