An old story retold for the season
April 9, 2009
There he stood in the harsh sunlight, sweaty and slightly hunched over, he with his companions, whom just arrived from a long trek. His dusty feet were strapped in worn-out sandals, his clothing crumpled. Bright eyes looked out from the sun-burnt face and windswept hair. He may not have been considered handsome, but rather average looking, perhaps even a bit homely. Still there was something about him that drew one’s attention. It was his eyes, for they spoke of benevolence and long suffering, far more than the span of his years.
By the looks of the man’s roughened hands, you could tell that he was a common laborer. It was told that he was a fine craftsman working alongside with his father. His fingers knew the feel of many grains of fine wood, as he had shaped it into a lovely creation. Now He was a carpenter, who had given up his trade and become a wanderer who roamed with a band a friends, men of various backgrounds and reputations. Yes, he was a man without a home.
Parched lips smiled at the woman who held a cup of sweet water from the well. Calloused hands reached out for the cool liquid that had been offered. A heartfelt thanks of gratitude was given. Letting her long dark tresses fall to hide her face, the woman felt a sudden shame come over her, and she stepped back. There they stood, this wanderer, and a woman of the night, both talking. What were they saying? I wondered, as other people passed by, snickering and glancing their way.
For not so long ago I saw this man at another location, at a small gathering surrounded by many children. You could hear the laughter and giggles, as the youngsters climbed up his lap or stood nearby. There was such a sense of carefree playfulness, as the little ones showed their adoration toward this man. Many people believe that only the simple-minded would tolerate such nonsense as the children clamored about in excitement. What was the attraction? I wondered. Was a it games? Stories?
Oh, I have heard that he was a storyteller of some sort and huge crowds would gather about. But what was so special that people would swarm about him like a horde of bees? Wherever he went there were strange things being said about this man. Such nonsense, I thought. This vagabond clown is only a fool, who saw glory in his own self therefore dangerous and delusional. After reflecting on this, I glance once more toward the man and the woman of ill repute. And the moment I did, intense bright eyes met mine and held them for what seemed like forever. It was so intense that I had to look away. “Another fanatic in the park.” I mutterer as I walked away.
Then a year later or so, while I was walking in a garden in the cool breeze, I heard a cry in the night that startled me. The stillness was broken as this anguished voice called out to his father. Soon I came upon a man, bent over in the moonlight, heaving with such heart-wrenching sobs. Only the son I can see but not the father. Yet a conversation was being carried on. What could have so much misery and pain? Only a tender-hearted person of deep compassion and profound love could have wept so hard. Even the air was laden with crushing sadness. Tears had flooded my eyes, as something tugged at my heart. I wanted to reach out and comfort, but just couldn’t. So I held back and walked on, very troubled.
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The next day there was a great commotion in the city. Whatever it was I was here to shop, and not to attend the big event. There was a lot of pushing and shoving, as I made my way through the jostling crowd. Somehow I ended up in the middle and close to a pitiful parade of few officials and soldiers, followed by a mass of angry citizens. Obscenities were being shouted, jokes were being made by the soldiers, as they prodded and poked a near-naked man. He was just a crumpled being, wavering under the weight of having a heavy beam that was strapped to his shoulders. Blood and sweat dripped from a face that was beaten far from recognition, and his back was a mass of rawboned flesh. My stomach lurched as bile came to my throat. It was too hard to bear the image that was in front of me.
“Who deserves such cruelty and hatred ?” I cried silently. Then suddenly the man looked my way, and once more, there were those bright eyes that I had seen before. They were the ones that held warmth and laughter in them. His eyes spoke volumes to me, and it pierced my heart to the inner core, as memories came flashing back. I choked on my own tears as regret filled my being. For here was a man, whose heart was so big, full of understanding, and in him was joy, laughter and the purest of love. And I never took the time to get to know him.
As the sky darkened, and an unsettling stillness pervaded the city a Man was plunged into the deepest despair, carrying all life’s burdens, hatred, pain, and sorrow. He, who was separated from his Father, was wailing in the darkest of dark, so utterly alone.
For years, those bright eyes have haunted me, the ones full of love and light, co-mingled with the cry in the night. There are rumors of the sunburned face and dusty feet. Amazing unbelievable things being said. And I wonder should I believe in what pulls at my heart?
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