CHAPTER 44 – AUGUST, 30 CE – HAMATH IS
Dorcas couldn’t stop smiling as she helped Hamath to his feet. He threw one arm around her and pulled her tight as the other arm hung useless by his side. He smelled of too many days without bathing, had a huge bruise on one cheek, and his tunic hung in dirty scraps on his emaciated body, but she didn’t care. “Oh, Hamath, where have you been? What happened to you? I’ve been so worried.”
“Please let me sit down, Dorcas, and may I have some food? I’m hungry.”
Dorcas ran to the cooking area. Sarah wasn’t in sight, but bread and cheese lay on the counter with a cloth covering them. She grabbed a knife and a platter, placed the bread and cheese on it, and hurried back to the table.
She cut the cheese and bread, then went for a skin of wine and a goblet. As she placed the food and cup before him, she resisted the urge to touch him again, to hold him. She waited, patient and silent, as he finished eating.
“Would you like for me to have Martha draw a bath for you?” she asked.
“I would,” he said. “I don’t think I’ve bathed since the day I left here. You wouldn’t believe what has happened, Dorcas.”
“Wait here, my love, while I set Martha to heating water for you.” She hurried off to find Martha, locating her in the guest quarters, opening the windows. “Martha, Hamath has returned,” she announced, unable to keep the joy out of her voice, “and he wishes to bathe. Please have a bath drawn for him and lay out a clean set of clothes for him.”
“Oh, Mistress, how, how nice. You must be so pleased to have him back.” Martha smiled. “I’ll have the slaves begin heating and hauling the water now.”
Dorcas nodded and turned to go back to Hamath, saying back over her shoulder, “Yes, do.”
When Dorcas got back to Hamath, he was nearly asleep at the table, his head on his good arm. His other arm rested on his lap.
“Hamath, please wake up and talk to me. What happened to you? And your arm—do you need a physician?”
Hamath nodded. “My arm hurts and won’t move, but I don’t know what’s wrong with it. I fell, I think.”
“Do you feel like talking about what has taken place since you left here? You said I wouldn’t believe what has happened.”
“It is a mostly a terrible story, but with some good, too. When I left to look for Paulos, you remember I took Enoch? Well, we no longer have Enoch,” Hamath said, eyes downcast. “He was killed in Jerusalem. We went without incident to Jerusalem, arriving less than a week after we left here. That’s when things began to happen. We went to an inn for lodging and food, then began riding through the city looking for Bildad, the slaver.
“A man called Jesus was there in Jerusalem. He is amazing. I listened to Him talk and He made me feel like He spoke just to me, even though I was part of a large crowd. It was the strangest feeling, as though He could see inside of me. He could have condemned me, because I felt as though I could see what He was seeing. But instead He just looked at me with sad eyes. He spoke of blessings to peacemakers, and I thought of the times I created turmoil here in my own house. He spoke of blessings to the poor in spirit, and I thought of my arrogance. He spoke of blessings to the merciful, and I thought of my cruelties, especially to Paulos. He spoke of blessings to those who mourn, and I thought about how I treated Sarah when she was mourning Paul’s disappearance. He spoke of blessings for the meek, and I thought of how I looked down on everyone. And He spoke of blessings to those who hunger for righteousness, and I thought of how unconcerned I was of whether I acted rightly or not. I couldn’t help myself—I knelt right there on the ground and told Him I was sorry. I was way in the back of the crowd, but He knew, I know He knew, and He forgave me. I know this is not making much sense; maybe I can talk more about it later.” He shook his head and choked.