The Mother

The Mother

I think he knows I am here although he is so high off the ground. They will not allow me to go any closer than the edge of the crowd.

His struggling breath has become mine. I try to breath for him as I did when I carried him in my womb, but I am not strong enough.   How did it come to this?

My mind is crowded with memories. They try to push away what I see before me.

We were traveling when he was born in a rude shelter, a strange town. A stranger gave us room in a cave where animals slept. Strangers walked by and peered at him as he lay in the crude cradle we had made from bits of wood and straw we found. He was my first born, but the labor was short. He came into the world quietly, only crying when he emerged. I was so afraid when Herod sent out the decree, but we hid away from our village until the horror ended. How I wept for the mothers whose sons were slain. Now I am about to share that pain.

Even though we could only afford a dove, my heart filled with pride when we presented him at Temple.

I see him, still unsteady on his legs, but determined to pick up a tool in his father’s workshop, wanting so to help. Later, running on those legs, now sturdy and strong, to meet his friends and join them in play.

He was a good boy, listening quietly as the Torah was read and asking questions. Sometimes I thought they were strange questions, but I knew he wanted to understand things. He even became lost at Temple for a time, just wandered into the Court of Gentiles. When we found him, some of the priests were very annoyed and of course we were frantic until we found him.

Everything seemed fine for a long time. He learned his father’s trade and seemed content with his life. Then, suddenly and for no reason he could tell us, he left home. It was a long time before we heard about him being in Jerusalem. Someone from the village had seen him there with a group of men. It gave me a very unsettled feeling. How was he earning a living? Did he have shelter and food?

Finally, he did return home for a few days with his friends. Then he left again and I did not see him until word reached us that he was in Jerusalem and that he was in some sort of trouble with the Romans. I felt sheer terror. Roman courts do not follow our laws and are harsh with Jews. His brother and I left immediately to try and find him. It was almost a week before we completed the journey. Before we could find a place to stay, a hard thing during Passover, we heard rumors in the streets that three criminals had been tried by the Sanhedrin, but turned over to the Romans.  I kept asking if anyone knew their names.   All we heard was that the criminals had been sentenced to death one for treason, the others for theft, and had been made to carry their crosses to a place called Golgotha. They were to be crucified.

My heart told me to go to that place of death and horror. Without taking time to find a place, carrying our travel sacks, we pushed and shoved our way through the streets, then through the crowd at the base of the hill.

I fell to my knees. My son, roped to a cross, was being lifted into place alongside two others. I cried out to him and somehow, above the noise of the crowd, he heard me and tried to hold his head up to look at me. He did not say anything, just looked at me with eyes full of pain.

There is another mother here. She watches her son with the same sorrow. We are kneeling, praying together.

Somehow my son is turning his head. He is saying something to the man on the cross next to his and the man manages to turn his head and reply. I

I cannot believe it. My son is smiling through his pain. He is still looking at the man beside him who has raised his head and is speaking to the sky.

God have mercy, it is ended.