“Oh! I have gained a new hitch-hiker. This one is scarred, from a war-ravaged race.” he thought, noticing his visitor.
He himself was walking along the seaside; his followers, none the wiser, tramped along the sand, keeping him silent company under the sun.
“Look.” He pointed out the newcomer within him to his listening father.
“He hangs on tightly, he seems rather overwhelmed at being filled after the emptiness he has known. Such hunger… this refugee long wandered that wasteland. Now he is gasping, reaching out for a new place to call home.”
“Do you think Andrew, I believe that’s his name, will stay with me? Will he seek permanent residence?”
Any of the followers walking with him that day would be hard put to define how their master spent his hours alone. He often went for prayer; but more often, he seemed pre-occupied as they journeyed, involved somehow beyond their understanding, just listening. That would be the best way to describe him. Listening.
“Yes, I think you are right.” He reached within and considered what his father saw.
“The light I emit will soothe his patched-up soul; poor one, it looks like it has been used as the military shooting range target of his times. I’ll need to heal much as we walk around the vastness.”
“No, I sense that he found the good news in solitude, like so many in his century. His military service took away the philosophical crutches he had leaned on so long,” he answered, now catching sight of the multitudes walking toward him.
“He has yet to find others. The nearest community of his times clings together, often choosing the lesser warmth but feeling safer in their own strength.” he shook his head. “So be it. They are learning. When they see others in pain, they do reach out to them. Andrew would feel welcome there.”
The sun was hot. Summer was upon them; nearby, the rising fruit of the earth was ripening. The other creatures of the hill country looked up, greeting him as he passed.
“For sure. The deception they endure blankets their thoughts. The oppression of their enemies as well. You wisely insisted we make a clear warning for those living at that time to come…to encourage such as he.”
“Father. Explain to me.” he inquired, stopping, he picked up a shell from the water’s edge and reminisced while his present followers walked on to meet the crowd. “The future ones came out of need, an overwhelming desire for the new life I purchased. Yet, once found, some have chosen the company of other children over that of my own. They are so unlike the simpler men of this era.”
“Yes, of course, I remember the lessons during my childhood. Like turns to like, the starving hear best from the former hungry ones, the aggressive from the men of violence of old, the startled, from the harried of the past. Still. My provisions of peace have yet to convince.”
“So. We shall dwell and dine together until they are ready.” Noticing the volume of need ahead, he added, “These here are so full of life and surprises.”
“It was again your knowledge, Father. My place alongside them has earned my right to share their burden.”
“This multitude is ravenous as well. Shall I provide for both their needs?” he once again inquired.
His followers had organized them as much as they could. They listened hungrily. Their physical hunger grew as well. They were long hours in that isolated place. He asked if anyone had any food to share. Then, his followers brought the boy’s lunch to him.
“Shall we use these humble loaves and fishes?” he suggested to his father.
The thousands gathered on that sun-blazed shore that afternoon were granted remarkable gifts, they received both the word and the meal. With left-overs.
The crowd was ecstatic, calling out to each other, some calculating, others simply curious, all astounded.
“I should have realized. Knowing our own oneness — I also had to be re-made to be with and for these little ones. Just as they must be re-made within themselves.” He looked into the hearts nearest, his own heart tender at their openness, the flowering of childlike faith.
Not all though. The crowd contained the hardened folks, the ones who would complete the work of darkness. They were still few. But he chose to gaze further.
“How sublime this gift which the children have called learning — the process of maturing I now share with my fisherman mates. I, too, have much to understand as I become as human as they are.”
“You hear it too. Once again the wandering crowd cries out for a king. Poor, blind ones. We will wait until they seek what they truly need, a savior to rescue them from themselves.”
At the din of the satiated diners, he told his followers he would be leaving.
He stumbled over a stone as he parted, which reminded him of his human frailty and a need to watch his step. After a sleepless night, his concentration suffered. He knew the laborers accompanying him often bore with this difficulty.
The sun sweltered on. This world whirling in its path around it. The load of the centuries was weighing upon its crust. But there was more. Young birds took first flight nearby. He watched their eager flapping and smiled.
“My body has endured time within this present race. The new race of children within will join us, after the generations you have set, in the new body you have promised.” He laughed for joy at what he held by faith to come. Then, once again, his face fell at the recurring memory of the pain awaiting him sooner, much sooner.
“So much harder the lesson of faith is to learn.”
He shook his head. “Knowing what they have to bear to believe — it so helps me find them, and fill their needs. You were right, you are. so. right.”
He looked up. He left the clamoring crowd and saw ahead the ministers from his father approaching. They bowed as he passed, ever perplexed at his human body’s humble state after hunger or another sleep-deprived night.
They asked if he needed any of their help.
“No, all is well.”
He trudged on, denying himself, the bodily lessons still being learned. They gazed as he walked away, then they noticed the band of followers also wearing concern on their faces, as they watched him plodding along the shore up the hill.
“Do they comprehend?” one asked the other.
“They will…eventually.” another replied. “He carries them even now.”
He bore his burdens alone as he hiked up the incline, cherishing the new lives within. The presence of his father comforted him as he walked.
“The children won’t see me as I truly am until afterward. What joy will be ours, Father, together with you once again, and rejoicing with these of my new flesh and bone. These of our likeness, our spirit.”
“Yes. Even I have understood. In their flesh, they will continue bearing that great gift of love to their children.”
“Then each, in their generation, will bear crushing challenges and carve out a culture of their own.”
“The symbiosis of our joined existence will shine one day greater than their nearest star.” he paused, lifting his face to the warmth of that sun.
“I feel them growing within me, even now. Perhaps I am the only male human to know the privilege of carrying life within,” he confided to his father at his question, smiling as he walked, now stronger. “You said it would be as bread to me. So true. This newness of life has begun to warm their heart of hearts, and mine, the promise of things to come for us both.”
“Ah, Andrew is here to stay, I see. Thank you, Father, for yet another gift.”
“.. ! ..”
story based on the gospel of John, chapter 6.