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Friday, June 10, 2011

FICTION FRIDAY: One More Time, Chapter 11B

For previous chapters, go to previous Fridays... (PS--Charlotte, I'm working on previous chapters to send to you.)

Sarah walked back to the cooking area, and began preparations for the morning meal. Martha, ever curious, came back into the cooking area. “What did Jonas want from you?”

“Jonas is a cloth vendor in the marketplace, and he has a lot of contacts with merchants and travelers. He knew Paul apparently left with a cloth merchant. Before when I spoke to him, he couldn’t find out which direction the merchant traveled after he left here, but today he says he found out the merchant traveled north at least as far as Sidon.”

“Ah.” Martha nodded vigorously. “My sister Hannah lives in Sidon. Her husband Marcos is also a vendor. He sells cheese. I’ll send word to them. They might have seen Paul. Wouldn’t it be exciting to find he’s such a short distance away? Sidon is only two days’ travel from here. Perhaps Dorcas would let you go bring him back, if he’s there. I could do the cooking for a week, if you’d leave directions for me.”

Sarah had to agree; it would be exciting to find him so close. If I only had a car, that two days could be trimmed down to two hours round trip, including more than an hour to search for Paul. Maybe Dorcas would grant me some time away to go bring him back. Her hopes rose ever so little, but she was afraid to hope too hard. Together, Martha and Sarah put together a message to send to Martha’s sister, describing Paul and asking for a quick reply. They could send the message by way of one of the many caravans that came to this busy marketing center before going to Sidon.

After the morning meal, Sarah hurried to the marketplace with Martha’s message. At Jonas shop, she made arrangements to send the message with a caravan to Marcos the cheese vendor in Sidon. She nodded with a smile at Dathan, who was there with his father again.

Jonas had begun the list of Greek words and phrases for the children. Sarah noted that he had kept the words and phrases simple. “You should be a teacher. You seem to know exactly what would be right for these children.”

Jonas chuckled. “I’m also a rabbi. I’m supposed to know how to how to teach. Most of my lessons are in Hebrew and Aramaic, but since the world speaks Greek, I must also know that language.”

“Ah, that explains why you’re not here on Saturdays.” Sarah brushed a lock of hair back under her scarf.

“Yes, that’s the Sabbath for Jews. Some of the vendors are Jews.”

“I have a question,” Sarah ventured. “Do you know of a Jew called Jesus?”

“I’ve heard of several—I even know a few. It's a popular name. But there is one the Jews think is the Messiah, or the Christ, as the Greeks say. Is that the one you mean?”

“Yes, that's the one. What do you think of Him?”

“I don’t know yet what to think. I make my decisions based on personal knowledge, not on speculations from gossipers, nor even speculations from educated people. And thus far, I have no personal knowledge of the Man. How did you hear of Him?” Jonas asked.

“A slave who was here with his master, the brother-in-law of my mistress, Dorcas, told me he had seen Jesus in Samaria. The slave’s name is Ben-Oni, and he went on endlessly about how wonderful Jesus was. And oddly enough, my little daughter, Tamara, says she has seen Him. I don’t know what to think about this bit of information.”

“How did your daughter come to see him?”

“In the hosp—uh, I guess in her dreams,” Sarah answered, “One time when she very ill, and one time when she was sleeping.” Jonas probably wouldn’t know what a hospital was, and Sarah had correctly herself quickly, but Jonas was quicker.

“In the ‘hosp?’”

Sarah didn’t know exactly what to say, so she decided to tell the truth—to a point, that is. She was afraid that even Jonas wouldn’t really understand how she happened to have bounced from 2008 to —what? Year 0? “I started to say hospital, which is, um, a place where sick people go. She was very sick.”

“I don’t believe I’ve heard that term before. No matter. Children have many dreams and imaginings, although it’s odd she’d dream about this Jesus. Do the other children speak of Him, or other adults, or do you?

“No. Hamath’s household doesn’t seem have religious convictions of any sort, and my own are rather vague at this point. I’ve never discussed Jesus or religion with her.”
“Odd. Odd about her dreams, I mean, not about your own religious convictions. You said Tamara was very ill--has she recovered?” Jonas asked.

“I don’t think so. She has recurring fevers and convulsions.” Sarah knew he’d probably think her daughter had demons, but she trusted Jonas and hoped it would be safe to tell him, that it wouldn’t be cause for a flurry of exorcists descending upon Hamath’s house.

“Fevers are sometimes be accompanied by convulsions, maybe especially in children. Most people think convulsions are caused by demon infestations, and perhaps some are, but I tend to think the ones with fevers are a part of a disease. Have you consulted a good physician?”

“Yes, a few,” Sarah said. “But they don’t know what is wrong with her.”

“It must be frightening for you. You have my sympathy. I wish I could help, but I know nothing about healing other than prayer, which I shall most certainly do.”

“Oh, thank you, Jonas, but that won’t be necessary. I’ve already prayed for her, and I wouldn’t want to anger God by too many requests for the same thing.”

Jonas laughed. “I don’t know whether to be amazed by your faith, or blessed by your naivety. Let me assure you, God is not angered by our requests. We believe that He is angered by disobedience, cruelty, and arrogance, but never by our often and well-intentioned requests. It’s my sincere conviction that he wants us to come to Him every day with our needs as well as with our praises and adoration. He is omnipotent and omnipresent; therefore, He is able to hear us each individually, as though each of us were the only person in His presence. That is my experience with Him, and that’s my belief.”

“Hm,” Sarah said. “That's an immense belief. I’d have to think about that for awhile.”

“Good, that’s as it should be. Don’t let others tell you what to believe. You should always investigate so that you may draw your own conclusions. Other’s beliefs, no matter how well meant, might not be well studied or accurate.”

A customer approached, and Sarah bid Jonas and Dathan a thoughtful good day. She gathered food needed for next couple of days, and made her way back home, deep in thought about Jonas’ words. How could she study in order to draw her own conclusions? She obviously didn’t have a Bible and no access to any of the scrolls that would have the books of the Old Testament.

Even if she did, she didn’t know how to read Hebrew. She vaguely remembered a few of the old Bible stories from her early Sunday School years before Mother died. Hm. Maybe Jonas could be a source, again. This topic could use lots more discussion with someone who knew more than she did.
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