He never actually called me. I know I was with Him a lot. Followed Him all over Galilee, and even down to Jerusalem. But He never actually called me.
I heard His first great sermon as He stood on the hill and told people things they already knew, and things that were startlingly new, but everyone believed what He said.
He spoke with authority, you could tell He was speaking the Truth, even when He said something about the meek inheriting the Earth when the exact opposite seemed the rule of the land while we lived under the heel of Rome.
He had called two of my friends to follow Him. They were fishermen; I mended nets and sails, and worked on boats from time to time. They took off for parts unknown with Him right then and there. Later He returned with them, and spoke a little to some of the people around. I couldn't resist. I picked up my bag of sewing supplies and followed them.
For the next three years I helped around their camp. Cooking things donated by believers and town folk to the Rabbi and His followers, mending their garments, looking after things as they traveled. We lived on the road, staying seldom in houses, living off the land and its people much as the wild beasts did.
Yet we were never in want. There was always something to prepare for the evening meal, every Sabbath was observed properly, every Holy Day seemed to mean more to Him than it did to an entire village of the most devout of my people.
When people brought things, I took the food, clothes, even a live lamb from time to time, one of the called ones took the money and other valuables. When there was too much to carry the first time, I asked Him what to do with it. He told me to give it to those without. I did. And from then on, when there were more bedrolls or cloaks than we needed, I passed them on to the poor and beggars.
He smiled at me one time.
I had given an old man my bedroll. He had come into camp after I had given away everything we couldn't carry as we moved on that morning. The old man said he was cold, so I gave it to him. Then, He smiled at me. HE smiled at me. The old man went away and I finished packing up. That night it got cold, all I had was my cloak and a threadbare blanket one of the others didn't want. But I was warm that night, and I remembered His smile.
Then a tax collector walked into our camp and handed me what appeared to be the very blankets of Caesar. He just smiled at me.
Things like that happened all the time. I never went to Him about not having something to prepare for a meal. All I had to do was start building the fire at the right time, and before I could get water heated or a place to eat ready, somebody would bring something, and it would be enough for what had grown to be a good number of people at times.
When they questioned him about taxes, money was found in a fish to pay.
When a crowd was starving, food was found.
When a storm was raging, it became calm.
Even the very hearts of some of those that hated His teachings, and us, would change. I don't know how many of the Pharisee's and lawyers would come to our camp by night, sometimes after being with a crowd that heckled and spoke badly to us by day, talk to Him in whispered voices, and leave before sunrise.
When the others were sent out to preach the Word. I stayed behind with Him.
We retreated to a lonely spot He seemed to love, and He spent most of the time we were alone praying. More than once I would make Him a plate and lay it beside Him as he prayed. Sometimes He would be standing with His arms up-stretched toward Heaven, other times flat on His face on the ground, weeping into the dust beneath Him, I would go back hours later, and the food would be untouched. Then at other times He would invite me to sit with Him, and we would eat, and talk.
We'd talk about the people that followed us, how He loved the people! We talked about our travels, and the food. The weather. Even the small animals that would raid our camp for scraps.
Then the Twelve returned.
His teaching of them intensified. Many days I would feel like I was interrupting as I went about the mundane tasks of maintaining the camp and their other needs. But He was never upset with me, no matter how the others acted.
Some of the Twelve I didn't like. I have to be honest, for His sake if no other reason. Some put on airs, others seemed always looking to be the closest one to Him as they walked or ate. And that one with the purse, he seemed to always want to say something as I gave away everything from our blankets to the pots we cooked in. But there was always plenty.
Then His mood seemed to change.
Passover was always a rough time for Him. He would cry and pray more than He would talk. Until the meal, then he would be almost serene, talking quietly, speaking in riddles and mysteries more than usual.
But as this Passover drew close, and we camped outside Jerusalem, He was distant, almost hesitant, as we looked down on the city. Then the night before Passover, He told me to give away everything we had. He said we wouldn't be needing it anymore.
I didn't understand. But I complied. That morning, I gave the entire camp to a family that had been with us for some time.
Then we went into the city.
I'm sorry, this is hard for me. I mean, those three years were the best time of my life. And He was right, it was the People. Not the travelling, or adventures, not the miracles, it was the people.
In that room, as He ate and I helped wait on the table, He was more Him than I had ever seen Him before. He broke the bread and my heart broke with it.
Then that one left with the purse. And I know now it was part of the plan, but I still hate him for it. I didn't want to name names, but I still curse the very breath Judas drew to speak his words of betrayal.
On the Mount of Olives I knew something was up. I just knew it. But as the soldiers and priests came up, I sank into the trees. I couldn't face them. I know if He would have spoke the word, we could have put up one dandy of a fight. But He told Peter to put away his sword, and went with them quietly.
I wandered the city for the rest of the night and the next day. Finally ending up in the room with the rest after it was finished. Waiting.
Then He was there.
It was Him. I fell to the floor, smashing my nose against the stone as I worshipped. He was the Son of God. I had known it all along, but something inside of me said He couldn't be. Thomas voiced the doubts I know many of us felt but couldn't say.
He was with us every so often then. Smiling, teaching, loving, more now than before.
Then He was gone. Lifted up.
I hadn't seen an actual angel before. These men stood there looking at the Eleven for a minute, seeming to laugh silently at some inner joke, then they asked what we were doing there and repeated what He had said.
Back in Jerusalem, Peter was a changed man. He took charge of our group.
Then as I was picking up their cloaks and getting things ready for a meal he told me they had prayed and drawn lots to fill the void left by the traitor.
And I was named one of the Twelve.
All I could think of was His smile, and His words that I wouldn't need my cook pots any more.
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