The Essene

I feel the pain in his voice as he screams out to me, “Why hast thou forsaken me?” That pain is visible on his torn and naked body lashed to that crude crucifix with hemp ropes. His muscles are straining until it seems that they remain attached by single tendons. He endures all this, believing that he is my son. Whatever.
I know that he is in an hallucinatory place, trying to grasp the meaning of Iscariot’s role. He wonders if I engineered it. As if! Any Zealot would have behaved similarly. The man being crucified now ponders that I had needed to nudge things along. A bit presumptive really.
At supper the previous night, the Magdeline had whispered her belief that a spy would soon cause the longed-for betrayal. I listened as he queried her strategy for escaping with the baby. She relieved him by providing one additional detail, so he heard the name of the ship as her lips placed the words so close to his ear that she brushed them with her lips.
I followed his mind back to their last camp before entering the town. That last night together under the desert stars had become so superlatively sensual that their whispered words of love became loud vociferations addressed to me personally, as he lay for the last time with the disciple whom he loved the most. I thought it very beautiful.
How different this personal side of him to the charismatic orator that I heard speaking to the multitudes from a hilly outcrop. “We can do it. Yes we can. We will help the sick. There need be no more poverty. People should love one another, and treat each other as they themselves wish to be treated. The wealth of society will be more equitably distributed. There will be an end to oppression. There will be an end to war.” So simple. So achievable. So scary to the religious hierarchy, the powerful and the wealthy.
What a pity that he allowed all the rumours about his supposed deeds! Walking upon water? Absurd. Ignorance of my basic physical laws of gravity, density and mass. And as for resurrecting the dead, the concept is so biologically incongruous that even I wouldn’t consider the thought. Humankind can be so…exasperating, sometimes.
I see his upbringing at Qumran, in that community of outcast Jews who called themselves Essenes. I know that he always felt different from the others living in this little settlement overlooking the Dead Sea. Their rituals conflicted him most – the necessary ablutions before many simple acts; the kneeling to pray at set times daily; the selection of an untouched wife in order to impregnate her in that virgin state; the women behind their compulsory veils and innumerable others. It was always only a matter of time before his alternative and radical convictions led to his departure.
Now as he dies for his beliefs, I remember him as the happy child in his father’s workshop. Like any child, one of his first beliefs was that he could help his parents, so he busily swept shavings, lisping his progress to the great amusement of the older man and visitors. Childish beliefs are often more honest than those of the adult.

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