This was supposed to be posted yesterday, but I didn't have time.
by Sarah Izhilzha
Here, in the olive grove, sheltered by the low, dark branches, it should not be this cold.
The rest of the twelve are somewhere lower down the hillside, probably making a fire or at least sitting close together to share warmth. Just like always, it is I, my brother James, and Simon whom he asked to come with him.
It was after he told us to stay, to keep watch and to pray, that I noticed the wind. It’s brisk enough to bite at us through the fringes of these trees. He didn’t go much further (I heard the rustle of his walking stop, rather than fade into distance), just far enough that we can’t hear him. All we can do is what he asked. Hunker down in our cloaks and sit...and wait...and sit some more.
Simon is usually the one who does most of the talking. Even when he runs out of ideas, there are always jokes to be made, fun to be poked, or questions to be asked. James isn’t much better. But both of them are silent now, still shapes in the darkness near me. The quiet is worse than the wind.
Perhaps they’re wondering about the things he said tonight.
Or perhaps it was just the look on his face as he left us here.
He has spoken before of a time when he will have to leave. Like so many of his tales, I assumed that this one had a deeper meaning, something it pleased him to keep hidden for a while. For as the prophets clearly teach, the Messiah will not leave, but be the ruler of God’s people forever. But tonight he spoke quickly, plainly, as if he could not fit all he wanted to say into one evening’s meal. If there is some deeper meaning to this talk of him leaving us–not alone, he said, but what other kind of leaving is there?–my eyes are too dim to see it.
“I no longer call you servants,” he told us, “for a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends.” He looked at me then, and I wondered if he guessed my wish that he would for once be completely clear. “Because everything I learned from my Father I have made known to you.”
He does not lie. I learned that years ago. But he has not told us all, or I would know why he walked into the trees like a man half-dead from grief. Could you not tell even us, Simon and James and myself? Could you not?
A warm hand shakes my shoulder. “John.” I sit up, stiff with cold, with waiting–oh heavens, with sleep. The others stir at his voice. “Could you not watch for one hour?”
It’s not a condemnation, but his voice is hoarse, as if he has been crying. “Jesus, what is it?” I ask, too low for the others to hear.
The moon has risen while I slept, and enough light filters through the leaves to show me his face as he tries to smile, then shakes his head. In those movements, in his eyes, in the weariness in his voice, I find something utterly new. He is afraid.
The wind has died. It should not be this cold.