It’s the first thought that hits him each morning, when the sun strikes his eyelids and he wakes to another long lonely day. The others still lie low, in spite of their claims regarding Jesus. He refuses to keep his head down, refuses to skulk about in the shadows. So he walks the streets and buys food for the others, dumping it on the table in that upper room and getting out as quickly as possible. He feels different now, well, more different. He’s always been a bit of a loner, but now never more so. He wonders as he walks down the street if he’ll suddenly be proved wrong. Goodness knows he wants to be. If he’ll turn a corner and walk smack into him coming the other way. If he’ll feel a tap on the shoulder and turn to see a nail-pierced hand doing the tapping. The other day he spotted a figure across the street, hurled himself through the sweating, bustling bodies, for a wide-eyed reunion, only to discover the guy was the wrong height, the wrong age, the wrong everything. He wonders whether he might get his own Emmaus road thing. Or maybe he’s had it and didn’t realise. Perhaps he’s been meeting Jesus all week in the strangers he bumps into or buys food from, exchanging pleasantries with folks and muttering about the latest news. Maybe one of them was Jesus in disguise and he missed his chance. Or maybe they’ve all been Jesus in disguise and he just can’t see it. Not holy enough.
It’s wearing him down and his bones feel heavy as he rises now and throws water on his face. He wants to believe, he really does. But he wants to see Jesus again too. Wants to see his friend. Not just hear about him. And Tom’s a practical guy. Speaks his mind. When Jesus tells them at the Passover meal that he’s going away and they all know where he’s off to… well, if Tom doesn’t know he can’t just be a nodding dog like all the others, he has to ask the question. And it’s the same now. He can’t just grin and pat their backs and say he’s so glad they all met Jesus while he was out risking his puff getting them a fig sandwich. He wants to look in those eyes again, to understand what’s been going on. To hear that voice. To know that somehow, the one he claimed he’d die with and yet abandoned, is back and ready to accept him along with all his fears and doubts and questions. What would he say if he met Jesus now? Suddenly? Here? Goodness knows. He might well speak his mind as usual. And say something stupid. But if he knows anything about the man from Nazareth he knows he can be honest. And not find himself rejected or rebuffed. Many’s the time he hurled a daft comment and found Jesus looking at him with the kind of smile that gave him room to manoeuvre. He sighs. He misses his friend. Is he back? Has the impossible happened? He hopes so. And he hopes he’ll know for sure soon. Or will he just spend his life waiting? He buys some breakfast, takes a long look at the man at the stall, just to be sure he’s not Jesus in disguise, then limps off back to the upper room and those frustratingly happy disciples.