Monday Rewrite: A Quiet Afternoon

He’s taking the afternoon off. Going to do some gardening. He’s been so busy lately, needs a break. Time out. Things have changed so quickly he almost feels hunted some days. It’s been a whirlwind. At times he feels as if he’s watching himself from a distance. Seeing the need, the hopes, the conflict, the injustice, the wonder. But not today. If he doesn’t breathe for a while he may keel over. So tending a few cucumbers will do just nicely right now, restore some balance and perspective. And strength.
He hears the footsteps, recognises the sound of that soft tread.
Her face is furrowed, lines of worry, and lines from the years.
‘Hello mum,’ he says, an unforced smile on his face, along with a few streaks of dust and sweat.
‘I’m worried,’ she says. ‘Been worried a while. I hear things. Are you all right? You seem to be acting strange.’
He nods. ‘Don’t worry mum, I’m fine.’
‘But they say you keep getting into fights.’
‘Arguments mum, not fights. There’s a difference. People get upset with me. That’s all.’
She narrows her eyes. Nods, then shakes her head.
‘Are you eating enough? What about money? Why not get a proper job? You were good at all that building you used to do. Your dad spent years teaching you.’
‘I have a job mum,’ he crouches and points, ‘look. New life! They’re growing!’
She catches a glimpse of the boy who used to race around the streets full of wonder and derring-do.
‘I think that’s a weed. You should know better, that’s got to go,’ she scolds him.
‘A weed? No. It’s mustard.’
‘It’ll spread like wildfire.’
‘I like it.’
She sighs. ‘I heard you upset Simeon down the road. Told him he had to change.’
‘He asked for some advice, so I told him his money was choking the life out of him. That’s all.’
‘But the community leaders, they’re very angry some of them. They say you disrupted a funeral, and you keep breaking the temple law. Telling people they can be forgiven without going through the proper channels. We brought you up better than that. And I won’t mention the Pharisees and what they’re saying…’
‘You just did mum.’
‘You have to be careful what you say. People are listening to you. Powerful people. I don’t want you getting hurt.’
He stands and looks at her, that lovely face he’s seen so many times.
‘I love you mum,’ he says.
‘Then behave yourself,’ she says.
He nods. ‘I’ll do my best,’ he says but she knows he doesn’t mean it, at least, not in the way she would like him to.
She leans in and kisses his cheek.
‘I’m glad you’re doing something ordinary for once,’ she says, nodding towards the garden.
Not long after her steps have faded he hears more feet.
‘They want you,’ says John, gasping for breath, hands on his hips. All muscles and good nature.
‘Who does?’
‘Everyone,’ says John. ‘We’ve been looking for you. They all need you.’
‘And I need this,’ he says, looking around at the vegetable garden.
‘What?’ says John.
‘Time in the garden,’ he says. ‘Didn’t I say? My father’s a gardener. So I’m spending time with him.’
John looks around, they’re all alone. Then the penny drops.
‘Oh…’ he says, ‘you’re talking about…’ and he raises his gaze to the heavens.
Jesus smiles, John watches him for a moment and then turns and pounds his way back to the others.

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