by Dottie McElreath
Have you ever had days that stand out in your memory as vivid as if they were written upon your soul? The simply clad, old woman was a patriarch in her family and her gentle spirit permeated the air about her. As her loved ones sat on the floor around her, they settled down and gave attentive ears to her as she began to reminisce:
I remember when I started living. I remember that day and how I felt. I can almost taste it! Have you ever had something stand out in your memory like that?
I was sleeping finally after a sleepless night. It had been so hot and the air was so still, the temperature had dropped a little. Well, I fell asleep. It doesn't seem as if I had been asleep but just a few minutes when I heard someone walking on the road outside my door. I had almost dozed off again when I heard more people walking by. What is going on? Why are people walking around this early in the morning? It's still dark. I just wanted peace and quiet so I could sleep. I was so hot and tired. I hoped my son, your father, didn't wake up. Lord, but he would have to see why they were up and there would be no more sleep for me if he woke up.
A group just walked by with horses. It was my people that I could tell, because they were talking low and trying to be quiet. If it had been the Romans they would've been noisy and arrogant about it because that's the way they were. Oh, but times have changed or could it be me that's changed?
Oh, goodness, he's awake! I could just have killed them at the time, but later, well, it turned out for the best. I guess I was just a little curious as to why so early and so many people. Simon would find out for me, so I cooked while it was still dark in the cool of the morning.
I could feel the anticipation in the air and something else, but what was it? Something's different about these people I thought and Simon came back, so I found out what it was.
They were following the men who had followed John the Baptist and I heard the day before that he had lost his head. I'd have been willing to bet you then that they would follow him, but that's another story.
Simon said that they were going to hear a man called Jesus and that some of them had been traveling for days. How did they know to come here? I heard about this man and even saw him once, but He just stood there with tears in His eyes and didn't say a word. He made me uncomfortable. I didn't want any part of this crowd. The priests had warned us to stay away from him and I had enough trouble trying to raise my son without the priests calling curses down on me. I wish God didn't listen to them. I like it better now, but I'm getting ahead of myself.
Simon wanted to go and I didn't. The walk would be about an hour away and it had been so hot and I had so much to do. My brother, Philemon, came by and said he'd watch after him so I agreed to let him go. I cooked up extra fish and bread for him to carry and a bit for our breakfast and sent him on his way.
I watched people pass by all morning and some were coming for miracles and some of them didn't know why they were coming. I got caught up in something and found myself walking too. All the time I was walking, I was telling myself what kind of fool I was for doing this and still my feet kept walking.
I walked into a valley and I could see the Sea of Galilee over a slight hill. I felt at that moment I was where God wanted me to be and I was no longer a fool. There were people everywhere. Some were sitting or standing or lying on the ground and on mats.
I guess what amazed me most was the quietness and peace all around us. Children were silent and attentive. I wondered if this was what Isaiah meant about the Lion will lie down with the Lamb and I was complete. My aggressive and argumentative nature was meek and mild. I was undone!
My son was sitting close to Jesus and I could hear clearly everything that he said. I was a long way from him and yet I could hear with my whole body. There were thousands of people there and this man Jesus transformed us all. It was as if we just existed until this day and now we were new creatures. If I could have felt this love with Simon's father, I would have been in heaven on earth.
After what must have been hours, but seemed like 30 minuets, Jesus told his followers to take up a collection of food. All the people who brought food were asked to stand with their food and my son, my precious son, stood with his small lunch of fish and loaves and gave it to the disciples closest to him. Even if we had all the food in my village, we would not have had enough to feed all these people. There were thousands here and I found myself wishing I were bread. If I were I could give my all and feed those people, but alas, in myself, I could do nothing.
Jesus took the small basket of food and he blessed it and then they began to pull food out of the basket. I didn't put but enough in there for one small boy and there was an inexhaustible supply that came out of that blessed little basket.
When my portion was given to me, I felt so honored! People everywhere were murmuring about how good it was. I started to say I cooked it, but then I bit into it and I have never before or since cooked anything like this and surely never this much. I ate my fill and couldn't eat it all. I had more in my hands then I had put in his little basket.
They began to pass baskets around to pick up leftovers and the leftovers were still multiplying. There were twelve baskets picked up and they were big storage baskets. Do you know what I learned most of all that day?
I learned that when you give from your heart or want to give more than keep, God honors that giving and it returns to you and you can truly never out give God.
When I met my son later on that day he received a new Mom, for the old Mom didn't live there anymore.
I saw miracles performed right in front of my eyes as if the air was healing people and I saw tears flowing down the faces of some of the meanest people I had ever met, and I felt my own face and it was wet. I wish he would pass this way again and let me walk into his presence because these old bones would still walk that extra mile to be with the Master of my life.
You know, I received a new son that day too. He never caused me one bit of grief until they killed him for talking about Jesus, but I know where he is and he's waiting for me and I'm going to step in the arms of Jesus and find him smiling at me one day soon.
The old lady lay back in her chair and the people, old and young, quietly walked away, some with tears and others with smiles. A leper that they hadn't seen, who had gotten close to the house and listened, was looking with wonder at his beautiful skin with tears flowing down his face.