Sunday, July 27, 2014

Susanna of Bethsaida

“Only a gifted writer such as Dennis Siluk, Poet Laureate of Peru, would be able to portray the complexity and poignancy of life with such simplicity and ease. This moving short story arouses the reader’s empathy with its clear crisp diction, light humor and subtle yet provocative emotion (‘The Dogs in Cherry Park’)” 1-12-2013   —Gail M. Weber, Editor-in-Chief, Exploring TOSCA magazine

Supplement to the Galilean Series
(A Novelette; was originally a one act, one person play—monologue)  In English Only

By Dennis l. Siluk, Dr. h.c.
Poet Laureate

Susanna of Bethsaida

—It  was, a time, yes that time, my time, I remember it now—the facts seem to be blurred somewhat, but clear enough to tell the story: it all started—I mean the turning point was, perhaps was—in fall; no, perhaps not,  it was hot and dry, and dusty.
       I felt in those days like a big air bubble inside that white foam that is brushed up and pushed onto the beaches by the waves coming off the Sea of Galilee. When I walked about Bethsaida, north of the Sea of Galilee, across the River Jordon, I wanted to disappear, disappear to anywhere, and the sooner the better, back in those days.  I was young, so very young then. After I met him, I never felt that way again of course—the Healer, they called him by many names, but I thought of him at first as the Healer, then the Galilean.
       I was always crying back then, before I met him. I followed the Healer to Capernaum, to Magdala, everywhere—even in the boats. I loved the winds, the breeze coming off the sea those waves splashing on my knees and face. But before that, before the Galilean, things were different for me—
       Father was always busy, so it appeared, a man who traded in oriental cloths. He had his businesses –I think they extended throughout Galilee, and then some, all the way to Judea, and Jerusalem.
       But what I remember best or most of all is: it was my right leg, it had grown smaller than the other, and it actually withered—like a dying branch on a tree.
       It was there in Capernaum it happened—

       It was terrible growing up with crutches—everyone always gawking as I walked here and there, all about. Then father heard of the Healer, the miracle worker, the Galilean, this I remember so well, how can one not: he was called Jesus of Nazareth, and he saw me, he put his hand on my crippled and withered leg, and instantly I felt his strength in it, Simon, the husky one, whom would later be called Peter, he was there, Jesus called him the Rock: I guess Peter means Rock, so Mary Magdalene told me once. Anyhow, the dead branch was no longer dead; I felt the flow of his strength,
       “Throw away your crutches and walk,” Jesus said.
       I moved a foot from where I stood then another foot and anther, I was hesitant, not in my faith but in my rushing things, I stretched the leg some and lo and behold I walked freely in no time.
       Oh, that’s not all, he said,
       “Your faith has healed you.”
       Yes indeed, he said that to me, looking me in the face. Then he looked at my parents, and said, “And yours.”
       Gosh I got Goosebumps all over. And this is not all, oh I hope I can remember it, “Will you follow me, serve me, with my apostles, it will be long and arduous,” the journey he meant,
       “Hardships” on the way.
       And now that I look back, he was correct. I think I said, “Lord, you’ve made me whole, yes I will follow you.”
       Well, little more need to be said on that, because that is what I did,
       “Truly,” I said, “You are the one sent by the Almighty.”
       I remember Mary quite well too, they called her Mary Magdalene, or at times just Magdalene, but she’d not come into my life for another week or so.
       I remember she knew right off that he was the expected Messiah we all were waiting for.

Yes. I remember that, we all returned back home to Bethsaida, Bethsaida in on the northeast side of the Sea of Galilee—
       I was the first female to be Jesus’ disciple if I recall; also, Mary Magdalene, she and I became the best of friends—
       She was the second I believe of us females to join the group, more favored in the eyes of Jesus, I do think, than I.
       It was but a week between the Lords’ healing me, then Mary—joined us, she was from Magdala, on the lower part of the southwest side of the Sea of Galilee. We would all meet in Capernaum, her, I, and well, the rest of us.
       As I was saying, it was no more than a week after the Healer met me, then Mary met Jesus in Magdala.

       I slept well in those days, contented you might say, filled with a sort of peace, even in the heart of danger. Likewise, I walked a lot but never did that leg pain me again.
       Mary and I sat up one night and we talked about our experiences with the Lord’s healings.
       “Is this not unbelievable,” Mary told me, “we are written in scripture.”  
       Well, she might have been right, perhaps we were, but I was always unsure of her on that comment, I suppose she meant in future tense; yet who’s to say.
       She—so inferred by a few words once, that she had gotten a message from an angelic voice of sorts—because she asked me if I had gotten a message of a revelation to be.  It was what she wouldn’t say, that made me think she had, but I told her:
        “No,” I hadn’t gotten any sort of communication of a great revelation.
        I was simply content just to be a follower of the Messiah, and of course we’d all find out later, she who brought the good news of Christ’s resurrection to light, that that was the great revelation.  
        Peter—not I—and a good majority of the rest of our little male group, didn’t believe her at first—thinking the Lord would not come to her before them, but time would prove them all wrong. It was as it was: yes, they had to bite their tongues after that.
        In any case, I was very happy caring for the sick, and sweeping the floors, and cooking for the group, like Salome, and at times Mary also: Salome, yes she came into the group also.

       It was shortly after Mary and I met that we went to the synagogue together, oh it was all of us who really went but I stayed close to Mary, that first Sabbath, it reminded her, it must have reminded her of what took place in Magdala a week prior, even though we were now in Capernaum, and of course the synagogue was a lot larger than Magdala’s—in that, she had a seizure and tore off her tunic and ran down the street naked as naked as a plucked chicken, and her brother Samuel had to carry her home, she had a loss of consciousness I do believe. 
       So this day, I stood by her in the synagogue; it was full, wall to wall.

It was hard at first for me to understand   —and I’m not sure about Mary, but for me anyhow, and I think for Mary to understand it was actually harder, that our Master— was more human than God? I hesitate to say this but I have good reason, once Jesus had said: “Don’t bow to me yet, but rather to the Father,” it seemed to both of us it was per near blasphemous. I mean we held Temple Priests in high regard, and he was much higher than they.
       Here was the Messiah, I told myself—greater than all of us and acting like an ordinary man, who can understand such a thing? Mary’s brother came by once, he was a Zealot, and wanted Mary to be part of the movement he was in, but she knew right off it was wrong, told him so, and he got angry at her.  He thought Jesus was going to conquer the Romans for Israel. How silly I think Mary thought of this. In any case, Jesus told us, to thank the Father in heaven in prayer, and so we did.

       This one day, I asked the Lord if I could get him something to eat, I knew he needed strength, looking weakened from our long journeys. He said,
       “Milk and Bread.”
       Inferring he’d eat when the others got up, eat with them that is.
       That morning Mary and I went to the well to wash our faces as usual, and I remember Jesus laughing at that, or was it just a smile, he said something to the effect:
       “You both have bright faces.”
       I suppose we had, we were very content, and happy.
       Back then we both, Mary and I had long hair, coiled, like in curls, and we combed our hair out, Mary often braided hers. I preferred in those days my hair long and hanging down over my shoulders, or at least to my neckline, a ribbon to tie everything together.
       I never thought of those days as working: that is to say, making bread and milk and honeycombs for everyone, bringing out plates and cups and greeting one another at the table, they were mostly fishermen you know.  Yes we handed out cups and plates, cups and plates to James and John and Andrew and Simon now called Peter, and Jesus and it was either I or Mary that made a kind of joke about Peter to Peter, saying:
       “So now you’re Peter,” more a statement than a question.
       “Yes,” Peter said.
       And someone said, “The Rock!” 
       And of course he fit the description, a stocky man with a heavy beard and those powerful muscles. And we all laughed, and we all looked at one another and in time my time, we would all cry together, but not yet.

 I even remember the color of the city of Capernaum back then, indeed it had a color, and it was ochre. For the life of me what a memory I have at times. The synagogue was larger there I remember, larger than the one in Magdala—:  Oh, I think that was mentioned already. But so was the population that also was larger in Capernaum.
       Jesus was becoming quite famous then.
       Thus, we kind of snuck into the synagogue, and leaned against the back walls in the women’s section, Mary and I. From there we could hear and see everything, everywhere. We were so pushed together though, couldn’t move a toe. In a half whisper I overhead two men talking, Pharisees.  (A pause…)
       We are still in Capernaum, in the synagogue, and they had stopped talking about the law, then on to the Prophets, and then Jesus spoke,
       “I am Jesus of Nazareth,” he said.
       Then the rabbi said: “We will hear.”
       And he went on to talk, as we all stood motionless—he talked about John the Baptist, his cousin, and that the Kingdom of God was near. He told us all to listen and he said to those who chose not to,
       “Woe is upon you who will not hear.”
       Then I heard those two Pharisees talking again, one said to the other,
       “We have to get rid of that man.”
       I had many of my own thoughts back then on this matter. But he, the Lord already knew what I knew, what I had heard, so I’d find out later. But this was only the beginning; it was to be a long journey ahead, as he said it would be.   

       I loved cooking for Jesus and his guests, his Apostles, once I remember receiving from a knock at the door an elder man standing there with a whole side of beef, he put it in the kitchen for me, said it was clean as the day was bright, and smiled. During those days, many people brought gifts for his healings, and his preaching. Even the house we lived in was loaned to him.

       I met Philip though Mary, he was from my hometown, Bethsaida, I had known him slightly, seen him around Bethsaida, he was older than I, actually most of Jesus’ men and followers were young, even Mary Magdalene; I was of course older—perhaps ten-years older. Maybe Peter was the oldest now that I think of it. I think Peter was from Bethsaida originally, and moved to Capernaum, where he called it home now, with his wife in his Mother-in-laws house. I remember Jesus saying, to all of us: a parable teaches you mysteries: the kingdom of God—he said, then something like: the seed is the word of God, be careful because the devil is like a hungry raven whom will come to pluck it away, as if from your heart…well he didn’t say it quite like that but that is how I now remember it.  He was trying to teach us about the good soil, hearing the word of God, holding on to it, and bearing good fruit because of it. He said in passing: all will be made known but one must take care in how they hear.

 It was this one day; oh a multitude came to Jesus to be healed. Mary and I, Peter and James, we were all so busy—bringing one person after another to Jesus to heal, then it was either I or Mary, I can’t remember I heard a woman’s voice, it was Mary a woman said,
       “I’m not with them.”
       Inferring, not with the child and mother Jesus had just healed, she was helping the mother bring the child to Jesus,
       “Then what do you want?” asked Mary.
       She had a dark beauty to her, an oriental look.
       “I am Salome, from Tyre in Phoenicia, a gentile.” She said.
       Evidently she had heard of Jesus of Nazareth and was compelled to meet him. She held the belief that the Roman and Greek gods were worthless.  In a slight way, she seemed depressed—or perhaps a better word might be sad or unhappy. But she believed beyond a doubt, Jesus was the Son of God, the Christ.
       Jesus overheard the conversation
       “…speak,” Jesus said.
       She knelt before him; she wanted to be forgiven of her sins. And from that day on she became the third female member of our group. She became a help for Peter that very day and thereafter; and after that, each day for one of us a help in all our chores. She now even slept in our room, consisting now of: myself, Mary and Salome.
       Matter of fact, that very night I taught Salome how to pray, all our lips moved in silent whispers that night.

I remember   Mary and me, so lovingly so dear, oh yes, Salome also!
       We all took our oaths to be soldiers of God, waiting for the call of the Messiah. 
       I remember His voice, he spoke gently, but compelling.
       Salome and I spent much time in the kitchen, more than Mary that is, she held kind of a special place for Jesus, she was awaiting that Revelation I do believe. Now that I think back on it, it was always in her eyes: wondering what it would be, might be, and knowing it was written in scripture, or to be written in scripture: it was as if she was living in the present while visiting the future, and knowing it was always there in the past. Well, she was closer to the Lord than most of us, if not all of us.

       I loved the landscape back then, when I was young, the slopes and the almond trees everywhere: rows of trees, white flowers ubiquitously. Walking to Emmaus from Jerusalem, the hills and mountains, olive groves on the way: those hazy blurred days, none were lazy days, some blurred, now blurred, and the breeze off the Sea of Galilee, seemingly always back then, feeling all too inadequate to understand.

       I tried in those days to do what Jesus preached, to build my house upon the rock, hence when the winds come and the rains fall, it would not fall—yes, another one of his parables, I was aghast at this, but I tired, astound or not, I worked it out, Mary was always the strongest. What he taught was contrary to all we had ever learned, in our little lifetimes, and here we had to relearn. But we all believed in what he said, we couldn’t help not to.
       Many times it was just Jesus, the twelve apostles and us three women, oh, and of course his mother, sixteen in all. And sometimes when he needed to be alone, or more alone, it was just Peter, or James and John—depending.

We had   fishermen, a tax collector, even one zealot, who came to a better understanding among our group members, and of course many were tradesmen, and Judas Iscariot. The blessed and chosen could now cast out demons, heal the sick, they blessed the house they slept in, or if it was not worthy, they took the blessing back when they left, and those who were shooed away, they were told to kick the dust off their sandals as they turnabout, and so they did. We were sheep among wolves, but we didn’t mind, and Salome, my dear Salome, such a good listener.

Central Galilee

All us women had cotton tunics, and bright colored scarves over our heads, we’d wake up and go about so early some days,  the streets were empty—for the most part—that is to say, not even  a delivery wagon in sight.  And here we were, a group walking like a squadron of soldiers, or perhaps we looked more like ducks, walking down the cobblestoned streets.
       I loved the chill of the mornings, we were moving out towards the central part of Galilee, to Cana, westward and then south. We three women took no more than the men, the less to carry the better.
       I remember on those long walks, or at least the first long walk we took with Salome, I was thinking: what was she so terribly guilty of, I pondered on it, but left it alone, so did Mary, I mean, we didn’t want to judge one another, and if Jesus had forgiven her, who were we to look upon her less than us.
       Oftentimes, Jesus wore a brown tunic, carried a traveler’s bag slung around his shoulders, he was quite: emphatic, quick to justified tempers, yet sympathetic to those in need.
       All in all, it was odd, in that no man of the God family had ever lived on earth before, and here he was. It was something I, or we thought about, and being too hard to absorb, we just tucked it away.

       I got irritated with all those stones that rolled, somehow rolled out of nowhere into and under my sandals: under my arch, and toes, and into every crevice of the sandal, but after a while you just let them come and go, come and go, lest you get a backache trying to readjust your sandal every mile, or every minute. And I was always wiping perspiration from my face, we all were I guess, it was a fact of life, I mean, it became a fact of our lives, and those blasted mosquitoes, in the nose and ears, eyelids. I laugh at it now, but back then it was a bother, yet I’d do it over again and again just to walk with the Healer.

 We were   all awestruck for the longest time—us three women, if not curious the times we weren’t. To Cana we traveled which is of course close to Nazareth, and I do remember that, they had said—long before this trip—that  who did Jesus think he was, I mean, he was to them Joseph’s son, a carpenter’s son, no more, and here we were heading into the lion’s den, as Daniel once did.
       On the way to Cana, Jesus told us to call the Father, “Abba,” when we prayed, the reason being, that it was special, and it showed adoration and respect, along with love, the love a child might use to a parent, it superseded all other languages. And so I did, and I’m sure Mary of Magdalene did likewise.
       And yes, we are back to those pain in the neck mosquitoes, I can’t seem to get them out of my mind, they were everywhere for several miles. We slapped our arms and faces and shooed them away from our ears, until we got weary and tired of doing it, then the closer we got to Cana, they up and disappeared, just like that, dispersed. We even got sun burnt faces and arms and back on our necks, in those far-off days.
       Bartholomew was from Cana, and when we got to the town, the township was—by and large, was friendly. His reputation had preceded him, although I’m sure when we walked down the streets we were quite the strange sight to them, but they were waiting, and Mary the mother of Jesus was there for an occasion, and that was the best news I’m sure for both Jesus and Mary— to see one another again. It seemed odd to me, he had a mother, not sure why, I guess I felt he was the Son of God, that he just up and left heaven one day, and here he was, whole and visiting earth—I know I’m repeating myself somewhat, but I can’t help it.
       Anyhow, if I had any value in those days, it was my cooking, I was the best cook, and I can boast of that I think. I liked making lentil soup, and roasted lamb, served with barley.
When Mary Magdalene spoke to Mary, the mother of Jesus in Cana, one early afternoon, Mary seemed more at ease, when she returned, she had mentioned to her—so I’d find out later—of the Immaculate Conception. Before this, we girls—as was previously mentioned figured Jesus just appeared one day, as if on Mount Tabor, and henceforward he came—something like that.
       As the Zealots were thinking Jesus was here to take over the world, deliver Israel from the Romans, a rebellion was in the making, how wrong they were. I kind of swayed back and forth on this, not really knowing; Mary knew better on his mission, and I learned: it was not his wish, had he done that, his teachings would not have been adhered to, not even heard: or if heard lost in the pandemonium.  He wanted the word of God to stretch across the world, announcing the Kingdom of God is at hand—first and foremost!
       It was all set down long ago in the ancient prophecies I had learned, and it all had to take place accordingly.

       This one morning, Mary was with Salome, and Jesus had said to a multitude of people listening, more people I believe than the entire city, they must have migrated from the nearby cities to hear him: not sure if it was in the synagogue or wherever, but the words ring in my head to this very day:
       “Not everyone that says, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of Heaven, but only ones doing the will of our Father.”
       Then he added,
       “Get away from me, evil hypocrites.”
       That kind of implied he would be the judge, so I figured, not sure if anyone else caught that.
       Actually I was happy to hear that, knowing how many false faces walk among us, try to pretend they are holy among us, just to impress a friend or loved one, but in their hearts, they are dim, no blood in their face, not ashamed of anything they do.
       But all in all, for us three girls, it was all a fresh and new experience if not at times a little embarrassment, that being, we were all so grateful for our new lives, we had no desires beyond a slight touch against our palms from admirers, and they left with only smiles from us, we wished only to serve Jesus, and the Father.
       On the other hand, we didn’t know—but Mary Magdalene knew I believe, she knew right off, Jesus would bring all the prophecies to a closing, finality, an end.

I was gathering some thoughts here, about Cana, near Nazareth, pondering the last words that Jesus said while in the city:
       “…where your treasure is there will be your heart.”
      Then he went on to say something to the effect: Don’t be troubled about food or clothing. Jesus then pointed out the birds in the air, inferring they don’t have barns full of food, yet they are fed. And are we not more valued than the birds—I think it was more a statement than a question; that all such worries come from the pagans; thus, do not worry for tomorrow.
       Then it comes to mind, Mary Magdalene again, I remember that the women of Cana, some women that is, a small group anyhow, protested on what Jesus had said, protested to her, speaking of the birds that is. I remember one of the women her husband was a farmer, and the birds ate all or per near all the seeds he had planted this one season, as fast as he planted them they ate them up, she even called Mary a bedraggle cat. Mary told her she simply misunderstood, that Jesus talked in parables, the reason being, so it applied to all the listeners not just to a certain one. Therefore, what Jesus was trying to teach was—Mary continued to tell the women—was the treasures stored in heaven, are those acts done down here on earth. As for the birds, God feeds them, so let’s not be so busy in life with work and forget God’s word. For what we do have, it is God given. And the birds have to eat also. In a like manner silver and gold gather dust. But God’s word will not.
       I remember her last and final words to the women: go ahead and buy your pretty cloths, in Rome, Athens, or even in Jerusalem, wherever you wish, that is not the point, the point is: do you think more on your cloths than God…?  Abruptly, they all got uncomfortable, silence came …

Road to Nain

 In Nain, we stayed at Jose’s house, a rich man; he lent it to us, his villa. There was so much adoration for Jesus in me, I fell in love with him, not irreverently, but the kind of love that comes out of respect, perhaps it was even more, even more than that, as the love one had for Socrates, or Alexander the Great, a worship kind of love, you want to follow him to the ends of the earth; although he was handsome, with long arms and muscular, authoritative.  Magdalene for the longest time, could not think of Jesus as a man, but much more, which we all knew, but he was a man nonetheless. I suppose it was hard for her to relate to Jesus as a man, or human, she was always too awestruck. But he was a man, God’s Son, living on earth. Even his mother confirmed that. I don’t mean to be disrespectful, but he was breastfed by his mother, like all of us were, and when he got ill as a child, his mother treated him back to health. He had feelings of a man; he just didn’t have their failings.
       For all intent and purposes, Magdalene did come to some kind of understanding of the God-man, and his full identity. I mean, in essence, this is what it was all about, Christ’s dual existence, man was now a part with God, and the Father was now a part with man, because of Christ.

Herod Antipas of Galilee
(The Phoenician Valley)

There was this one day I do recall, Jesus went to the mountains to meditate, Madeleine, wouldn’t tell anyone where he had gone. We had just gotten news John the Baptist was beheaded by Herod Antipas, Ruler of Galilee. He had married Herodias, his divorced sister-in-law, a violation of the Jewish Law. But it was her daughter, Salome that danced for him and for her reward, she had asked for his head, and what could Herod do, but give it. We were in the Valley of the Phoenicians, on the boarder of Galilee, land of the pagan gentiles, when news arrived to us of this event.
       Caesarea was not far-off, and the Mediterranean Sea was close by, and when I saw it, it appeared to me as huge as all of Israel, and Rome and its   provinces put together. There we found a settlement. The Phoenicians were a mixture of Greeks and Jews all living together in harmony in one spot of the valley, near Mount Carmel—not far away. They had heard of Jesus, but had Apollo as their God of choice.
       Well, to make my point I remember what took place that second morning? People gathered outside the house where Mary was, and Andrew and James were available and Andrew asked Mary, called Magdalene to find Jesus to heal the sick. But Mary refused to, not saying a word on the issue, although she did remark—in passing:
       ‘…that his intentions of going’ —wherever he was going— ‘were to mediate not to be disturbed’ —adding: ‘he’s given you and the other apostles the power to heal, therefore the problem is solved.’
       She was firm, and that was going to be that and we all knew it.
       And so they did what was indeed intended for them to do: they called forth the twenty-four afflicted to be brought forward and they healed them. I think they were apprehensive at first, then shockingly surprised of the results, but so marvelously content and happy—when compete. Then all of a sudden Jesus showed up, and he spoke to the people, and said in essence: every kingdom on earth was open to enter God’s eternal kingdom: based on ‘belief.’ And then Jesus explained there were two great commandments: ‘Love your God heart and soul, and mind’ second, ‘love your neighbor as well.’ And there were conversations on this. And someone said, I think it was Jesus: ‘…how can you say you love me, and not your father, mother, brother, neighbor’ something on that order, adding: ‘…it is not possible, to love one without the other.’

The Road to Ptolemais

Mary, called Magdalene, was always the smarter one, so it looked, surely the more knowledgeable one anyhow, perhaps the stronger willed one also, possibly, the one with more faith too, who’s to say, but I knew then, as I know now, we are chosen to be what we are: God knows what we are made of, and what we can and cannot do, and withstand.  I mean to say, some are chosen to be mothers and fathers and given special gifts, others are chosen to live a different kind of life, without children or the burden of a husband, and Mary was chosen to follow Christ— always in a state of  fascination; I knew that then, and I know that now. For myself, I remain unmarried, a helper more so than a healer or teacher like Mary. I am the helper and as I see it or saw it then, we all served God well.
       In any case, I want to get back to the Road to Ptolemais; I think I was headed in that direction. Joanna joined our group now; she was a little older than the three of us in her late twenties. Shorter than all of us, a little plump; once in Ptolemais, we had a house loaned to us for fifteen days, it was a large house, vacant with a musty smell. It was I who noticed the dust, I mean to say, I saw where my work would be cut out for me. Joanna and I, and the other women cleaned the kitchen, the stove and floors, and the bathrooms and that first evening we all sat around a large dinner table and got acquainted with our surroundings.

       I remember the city was full of those Pharisees and Sanhedrin’s from Jerusalem. By gosh, I do remember them—my memory has a good recall: they called Jesus
       “The Blasphemer.”
       It was midmorning, a boy had run out into the middle of the road and a wagon came racing down the street, a wheel of the wagon rode right over the boy, crushing him like a broken bowl, an accident that is, and Mary held the boy’s head up, he was dead, she prayed out loud for the boy to be healed, and the boy moved about some, then sat back up as if nothing had happened, as if he had simply dozed off to sleep for a moment: I think he was dead, I’m sure he was dead: lo and behold he stood right up, arched his back some, and went looking for his ball again, the one he had lost, actually it rolled into the street, not quite lost, just before he got run over by the wagon wheel, Mary’s first miracle.
       Everybody was spellbound: there remained a crowd around Mary, all bewildered.
       She was arrested that day by a Roman Centurion; iron put around her wrists, with heavy chains links, linking one to the other. It was the Magistrate of Ptolemais who had ordered this, calling her miracle a hoax, and her prayer through Christ blasphemy. The weight of the chains around her wrists and ankles weighed her down some, bent her back. Oppressive! She couldn’t even lift her hands. Thus she let them fall to her sides. They took her to a torture chamber, she received several lashes. And then was put into a dreary cell with two other women.
       All she could remember to tell us later on was—for the most part—came to be those dim ghostly halls of the prison, where forms on both sides gazed aimlessly through the small windows in the doors, the oil lamps that lit the hallways in intervals. Faces and faces and more faces, like owls, expressionless faces and the body odor, the stench, the human cries. Also on one occasion she had told me, while inside the cell she sat on two boards, her tunic, blood soaked; two other inmates, females in the cell, were alive, but like dead corpses, they never talked to her or even responded to any motivation, their souls were dead so it had appeared, as she tried to start up conversation after conversation to no avail. She had her meal of soup with fish heads and bread. She thought about the little boy she had brought back to life—off and on, which gave her some satisfaction. She recited the scriptures she had learned through Rabbi Menelaus.  She even counted the bricks in the wall, among other silly things to pass the time away.

I remember her saying— her eyes had become used to the cells half-darkness, and at times a cold damp darkness. Oh, yes, she was imprisoned ten-days, she never knew exactly how many, but I counted ten days. It was like forever she said, as if it were months, she lost all track of time, lost count. But she knew her destiny, and then lo and behold the Magistrate called Mary to go to the court and plead her case, the judge wore a Roman toga—sat behind a marble table. It was Ishmael of Ptolemais who sought charges against Mary, an elder of the synagogue. Hence, she was freed by the judge after he commanded the elder to speak the truth or he would take Mary’s place in prison and out of fear, he did.

Notes:  “Susanna of Bethsaida” was written in Lima, Peru between: 12-30-2012 (#984), and the 19 of January, 2013.  Reedited 10-2-2013. Reedited 7-2014.