December 11, 2012
The Disciples Child I sit on the floor with my little brother while my mother is re-hemming my school pants. The dimming fire lights the area in front of us, so that we can see the game I have out. I draw a circle in the dust on the wood and untie a sac form my belt loop. I’ve been collecting these marbles for a while now because whenever my father leaves for a trip, he brings me back another marble. I divide up my treasure with my brother and decide I can teach him how to play now that he’s 6. His name is Demas and mine is Ethan and I am 6 years my brothers senior.
Demas looked to my mother longingly and asked, “Mama, when will father be home?” My mother answers calmly and chooses her words wisely, “I don’t know dear, your father went all the way out to Jerusalem this time, that’s a long way from Emmaus on just a mule and cart” she says, “But I do hope his return is soon because the cupboard is almost naked of food.” As she talks my stomach growls, but I don’t say anything because I know we can’t afford food and that it kills her to see us hungry. Most of my food goes to Demas because I don’t want him to experience real hunger and even though my mother says, “just keep faith”, I don’t know what I believe. Don’t you have to believe in something to have faith in it? Im not really sure, and come to think of it I never really was. I feel like there’s a God out there but I don’t see how a god, like the one my father talks about, could let such awful things happen to innocent people. I want to believe but deep down there will always be some sliver of doubt that finds its way into my hopes. I hear a growing grumble that sounds like a conversation, working its way to our stoop. Our front door swings open and I run to the door to greet my father and our neighbor Malachi, but stop short because of the stranger I see behind them. I’m used to having strangers in my house because my father is what they call a Gentile, and is a follower of Jesus. My dad met him once on a trip, he was loading up his cart when the marble he was going to bring me fell out of the back and rolled in Jesus’ direction. He stopped my father and gave him the “gem” and they started talking, and bam, like that they were talking about life and God and who-knows what else. There is something different about this man accompanying my father. Maybe it’s the way he enters our house, or the way he walks or speaks, or the suffering in his eyes. My mother gets up from her chair and stands with my father as we meet our newest guest. Demas and I leave to set the table and I remember that there is no food left. I walk over to my father and whisper to him the ugly truth. He walks outside and in a matter of minutes is walking back in with a crate of food and my mouth waters a little because I’m so hungry. I walk outside into the cool summer night and sit by the pond with my feet resting in its cool water. I lay on my back and look at the stars, and start to think about my life. Where will I be in 20 years? Will I settle down and marry and become a town trade or explore the world? What happens when I die? What is up there in the sky that makes it look so wonderful? As I am contemplating all this the stranger sites on the cool grass next to me and says, “Heaven”.
“Heaven, that’s where you will go when you die”. I look at him bewildered and wonder how he knew what I was thinking. He looks me in the eyes and they flash with gold, just for a moment and then its gone. He…