Book II: Chapter 30
My forced revelation about Alan and Miriam continued.
After they were finally airborne, I watched Alan lean over to Miriam and say, “Did you bring The Book with you or did you put it in your checked bags?”
“That’s absurd,” Miriam was aghast.” You know I could never check that!”
“May I see it?”
“What, here? Now?”
“Nobody knows what it is. Please. I haven’t viewed it in centuries…”
“But, why do you want to see it? It will only make you sad.”
“Miriam.” Alan gazed into her eyes. “Please.”
Not wanting to hold the eye contract, Miriam reached under the seat in front of her and pulled out a large, leather-bound tome from her carry on. After unlocking it, she hefted it over to Alan. He then flipped to the latter pages of The Book of Life — looking for text.
“So many lives lost.” Miriam whimpered. “I’ll never understand it.“
“Here you go.” Alan slammed the book and shoved it back at her.
“Er. OK?” Miriam gingerly took it back, surprised at how quickly Alan was done with it. Fumbling with the lock, she asked, “Is everything ok?”
“How very sad. Miriam, how do you live daily with this burden?”
Looking down to hide her tears, she replied, “Ours is not to question God’s way. We must continue in faith that all will work out, and that… maybe, there will be a final redemption when even the lost sheep will come back into the fold. At least that is MY hope.”
Alan grasped her hand gently, “An admirable hope indeed.”
Miriam placed her head on Alan’s shoulder, while he continued to hold her hand, and as they sat, both of them remembered the past…
(How do I know their thoughts? Keep reading and see for yourself).
My vision shifted with theirs, I guess, because after a hazy shading, I found myself looking upon a scene I hadn’t recalled in many years…
There we were, a group of disciples and hangers-on, following Jesus of Nazareth as he led us back to Bethany – just outside of Jerusalem. We were on the way to visit with the family of our friend Lazarus. There was much confusion among the disciples about the purpose of this trip — some among the group tried to keep Jesus from going back there because our last visit to The Holy City nearly resulted in his death from the Jewish mobs who were incensed about his heretical teachings. Others were under the impression that Jesus was on his way to cure Lazarus of a mysterious illness which his sisters had urgently come to tell us about just two days before.
Yet, only myself, Mary of Magdala, and a few others knew the truth…
Lazarus was already dead.
I watched as our group moved along the road.
Then I caught a close-up glimpse of myself.
(Oh how young and strong I once was! Why can’t I relive those days again? Quickly, I looked away – it was no use living in the past – especially knowing what I know now. Instead I focused my Sight on someone else).
Eventually my sight fixed itself upon Mary and Jesus. They were walking together a bit separated from the others.
“But, I don’t understand, Lord.” Mary questioned Jesus. “If your friend Lazarus is already dead, why are we going back?”
“Dear one, why do you not listen to me?” Jesus replied.
“What am I missing?”
“Lazarus IS dead. But, for your sake, he will not stay that way.”
“MY sake? What do I have to do with anything concerning your friend Lazarus?”
“Lazarus is a friend to both of us and he loves you, Mary.”
“Lord!” Miriam blushed. “You know my heart beats only for you.”
“What you want cannot be.” Jesus said gently. “Each of us has a different path to walk. You and Lazarus will journey together; while I have another road. But fear not. I will always be with you.”
(Hogwash! I’ve heard that same line countless times – it ain’t true).
Clearly frustrated that the man she loved was trying to pass her off onto someone else, Mary abruptly stormed off to the back of the group to be alone – surely wondering if her destiny was still to follow Jesus or if instead she was being led down a road to nowhere.
I didn’t have time to ponder about this further because, for me, Time began to flash by…
When I got my bearings again I realized a day or more must have passed, for we were all at a party – celebrating Lazarus’ Resurrection!
(Despite my current beef with Jesus, I couldn’t help remembering the profound amazement we all experienced back when we witnessed Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead – do you have any idea what it’s like to see a man come out of the grave? Truly Jesus was a miracle worker!)
The celebration was chaotic to say the least, but I happened to catch a glimpse of Mary sitting alone in a quiet grove. Lazarus walked over to her. Not knowing what to say, Mary stuttered, “How… er, how do you feel?”
“Better… now.” Lazarus smiled calmly.
“I’m glad.” She replied automatically. “Jesus is amazing, huh?”
“He is. And so are you, Mary.”
(Can you be any more obvious, Laz?)
“Oh, looks like I need some more wine.” Mary squirmed. “Would you excuse me?”
But Lazarus grasped her hand, “Mary, I let you get away from me once before. I can’t let that happen again. I love you. Stay with me.”
“Lazarus, please! This is not the time or the place.”
“Mary, don’t you realize I was a dead man less than a day ago?”
“That’s not a very comforting thought to a girl.”
“I was experiencing the afterlife!” Lazarus related, his eyes peering inwards. “Peace. Love. Fulfillment.”
“I don’t understand, why did you come back?”
Lazarus looked intently at her. “I came back for YOU, Mary.”
“But why? Er, I know, I know, you love me.” She hissed the words under her breath. “But, it doesn’t make sense! If you were already experiencing the afterlife, surely the thought of ME could not compare?”
“I heard his voice — The Teacher. Jesus said I needed to come back to… to… help you.”
“What are you trying to tell me? That Jesus is playing matchmaker and he brought you back from the dead to save me from being an old maid?”
(Ooh, this is not going to go over well!).
Mary was fuming, “Why the nerve of th—“
But Lazarus touched her hand gently, “It’s not like that, Mary.”
“Then what is it like?”
“I DO love you.” Lazarus said, as a touch of sadness entered his words, “However, I know how you feel about The Teacher. And about me.”
“Well, Lazarus, I… we… you and I, well, we hardly know each other.”
“Be that as it may. If nothing else, I came back to help you… with your mission.”
“What are you talking about?”
Now it was Lazarus’ turn to be confused. “Wait, are you telling me that The Teacher hasn’t discussed your mission with you?”
“Does he want me to lead a new group of disciples?” Mary suddenly perked up.
(Ha, always trying to weasel her way into leadership).
Seeing that she really had no idea what he was talking about, Lazarus advised, “Perhaps this conversation was not the best idea. I’m sorry, I thought Jesus had already discussed all this with you.” And he got up to leave.
Now it was Mary’s turn to pull him back down, “Just a moment. You can’t walk away now; explain yourself!”
Unable to resist the woman he loved, Lazarus answered, “Mary, you are going to save the world! And I am going to help you!”
(Yeah, right. If only it was that easy).