Thursday, April 12, 2007

My Name is Onesimus 4

(Read part 1, part 2, part 3, first)

I finally did it, I awoke before Paul. I was so excited of what was to unfold today. Paul was going to bring me into his insurrection. All of the coded language surrounding the dead man Jesus would be revealed to me. I busied myself preparing breakfast for Paul and myself.

I can’t believe how satisfied I feel in his presence. I must remember to keep hidden my escape and thievery. I liked Paul so much that I feared I might disappoint him. This unusual man has done something to me with his ready laugh and eyes that fill me with something that fills like a cool drink of water on a blistering day.

As we were eating breakfast, it was all I could do to contain myself from pestering him with questions. Paul is not a man that gets pushed or provoked easily. He seems to have mastered himself in a way that few men know. What are his secrets? How can one be under the potential sentence of death and yet be so content? I want what he has but I still feel I must hide from him.

And then he began talking but in a way I had not expected. It was like he saw me as a real man, neither above me nor at me. His very tone and demeanor made me feel like I was the most special person in all the world to him. He simply began telling me his story.

He told me he was trained in the best of schools and with the best tutors. He was a man who lived by the highest of standards and looked down on others who did not measure up. He told me he was a Roman citizen which I had no idea of, until that very moment. Fear clutched my heart but I quickly pushed it aside. He certainly didn’t act the part of a man with power. He said these things with such few words and yet I know he was not trying to impress me in any way. He simply wanted me to understand what was truly of more importance to him. My ears were straining as I wanted in on the secrets of his heart.

Just as he was about to share what I was so longing to hear, he began to weep. He wanted to speak but words would not come out of his mouth. When he composed himself he confessed to me that he was a murderer of the very ones that he held most dear to his heart. I was shocked because I didn’t think that what he was saying was even remotely possible. He said that in his zeal for his beliefs, he had set out to destroy a group of people who were simply following after the teachings of the dead man, Jesus. I was still confused for I did not expect him to talk about Jesus. I thought those words were just a cover for something much deeper.

Then he told me something that I could not fathom. He said he had met Jesus years after he had been crucified. My head was swimming for I thought that I was to be let in on the secrets of a new kingdom. Instead, I realized I was simply in the presence of a delusional madman. My body was set to get up and that feeling of murder rose up in me, just as it had when I had knocked on his door. A part of me felt like such a fool, but another part wanted to hear more. Why so much talk about a dead man?

Paul looked me in the eye and spoke these words. He said when Jesus had appeared to him that he thought he was the master of his own life. That he knew that God himself must be very pleased with his zeal. And then he added that in that moment with Jesus, that all that he held dear evaporated like a drop of water on a hot rock.

How could such a man throw everything away for an illusion? But then again how could an illusion trap such a learned, clear thinking man? I wanted to understand but I could not comprehend the change in this man before me. I had seen men die, I had seen men make difficult decisions, I had never seen men change. And yet here was a man who had truly changed.

Paul seemed to see my inability to understand and said enough of his talking about himself. He got up and got us more tea. Then he said that the day had just begun and I had much to do for him. I was relieved because I had no words. It was like he knew I was not ready to decide about anything that he was saying. He wasn’t even asking me to respond. I certainly didn’t understand why the things he was saying were so very precious to him. Then Paul let out his hearty laugh, as if he could read my mind, and said that by the end of the day I would understand. I thought, well I have certainly put up with worse, why not carry on with this charade?

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