“I remember those days as if they happened yesterday; they were the most meaningful and remarkable days of my life. It was hot, of course, the desert always is but, the nights were cold and the journey quite long – almost two days.” Her face lit ups as she squinted her eyes with joy, “Wherever I walked following me was a cool breeze at my back, a blessing from above. I would never complain about the walk because there were some who walked three, four and five days, bless their souls. Now children, you must remember that it wasn’t safe for a woman to walk alone in the desert. Nefarious men traveled in groups throughout the desert looking to rob, harass and even kill people, but I felt safe, I felt covered.” The children moved in closer. “My journey was predestined, that I’ve never doubted. I walked to hear this one man speak.”
Natania tugged at the hem of her skirt, “Savta Issy, please, tell us the part when you arrived. The anticipation of telling the rest of the story, the best part, gripped her as much as it did David and Natania. She drew a deep breath and began.
“The sea was as calm as glass. I cooled my tired feet on the shore. I looked to the north and saw hundreds, maybe thousands of people – too many to count – sitting and standing on the mountainside. I tried to get as close as I could. This man was the talk of Israel. They said he was a prophet sent from God himself, wiser than King Solomon; some believed he was the Messiah! I wanted to see his face clearly, trying to make it all the way up the mountain but it was too steep for me to climb right up to the top after such a journey. I finally squeezed myself, in and out, between the men, close enough I supposed. Some looked at me – wondering what kind of a woman – travelling without a husband – would have the gumption to come to the mount. Hah! I didn’t care.”
“Twelve men stood with Him – six on either side. He raised his arms and all the people suddenly became quite and sat. I was captivated by his presence. He began to speak; the sound of his voice was soothing to the spirit. My soul was moved, inspired by his wisdom. His words washed over me like fresh, living water. It was as if he was there for me, only me. His purpose rang out – connecting directly to me, like an arrow hitting its mark.” “What does he mean by this?” some whispered. Others said, “He speaks with such wisdom and authority.”
“I closed my eyes momentarily, fixing on blocking out the chatter until all I could hear was him speaking. Every word he spoke was like honey on the tip of my tongue – resonating in my deepest being. Then, almost as in a fantasy, he slowly moved his eyes from one side to the other and, for the briefest moment, and I know this sounds impossible, but, in that moment we connected. Time surely stopped, children, because he looked right through me. I felt it. ‘Follow me’ a whisper touched my ears then blew through my hair. My knees weakened, though only for a moment. I felt joined with him – forever.”
“We were there for days. Some left, but I couldn’t have left if I had tried. Why would I have? I tell you this story and yet my own words fail me. He spoke of His father with such passion and reverence – calling him ‘our father’. He said he was come down from heaven – sent by his father! This man Jesus … the son of God!
“He gave us a better law; a new covenant he called it. he taught us how to pray, how to love, and that there was no point in worrying. Children, you know how much your father worries. You must teach him what you have learned. He told us we must forgive all trespassers against us in order for His Father to forgive us. Yes – our sins forgiven. He said we must earnestly seek the kingdom of God. He told us we could live in paradise with him if we believe. ‘ Follow me’ he said. ‘Take the narrow gate, it won’t be easy’ he said with a comforting smile. I felt secure, loved, renewed in my spirit. “
“His friends dismissed us. The crowd began leaving in droves. Of course you understand, many had jobs to return to. The people who came left everything behind to hear his wisdom. After he concluded his discourse, he began making his way down the mountain toward me! I closed my eyes and prayed to the God that his son would stop near me – that I could just look into his eyes – look into the eyes of the Son of God! Suddenly, I felt a warm hand on my shoulder. The warmth travelled from the top of my head to my toes. I was somehow afraid to look up – well perhaps not afraid, but I felt unworthy. Mere seconds felt like minutes. I looked up, into his eyes, and I could not look away. ‘My daughter, my betrothed’ he said, ‘peace be with you. Your sins have been forgiven.’ I knew my past, my transgressions – all of them. I was so unworthy. I felt as if he knew them too and he didn’t care what they were. They were nothing to him any longer because I believed. I left my guilt at the altar of his presence. ‘Follow me if you desire to live forever’ he whispered. And I did. And I do.”
“That, my little children, must be the closing of my story; it is time for sleep.” She walked with them to their beds, kissed their foreheads, and returned to her chair facing the fireplace. “Oh, most holy heart of Jesus – bless your holy name” she began to pray.
“There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under Heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12.