A Biblical Short Story by JQuisumbing
31 AD – Daydreams come true – Bethany
Mary always liked butterflies. This is why she always had pots of colorful flowers on her window. There was one particular butterfly that she was paying very close attention to as it hovered over a lavender flower that still had its morning dew. It had orange wings with little black spots. The body was grayish with black stripes on its abdomen.
“Well, my winged friend, what adventure has the Lord had for you this fine day?” Mary asked with dreamy eyes. Then she looked past the butterfly that had finally landed on the flower to extract the nectar, to the blue skies. After a long while, she whispers to the sky, “Lord, what new adventure have you for me this day?” She smiled.
But her reverie was soon intruded upon by a demanding voice. “Mary… Mary! The food in the kitchen will not be done by itself!” It was the voice of her older sister, Martha.
Mary flinched at the thought of helping out another day in the kitchen with Martha ordering her around. She can just hear her in her head. ‘Mary, do this! Mary, do that!’ Ever since Lazarus left about two weeks ago, Martha had been ruling the household like a queen.
“No! Today, I am sneaking out like a thief,” she said to herself.
And snuck out, she did. Avoiding her sister and the servants, she dashed out the back gate hearing her sister shout for her. Feeling free as a butterfly, Mary giggles as she skips and a hop straight to the village gates. She knows she’s not a little girl anymore but she was so happy to escape, she did not care if she acted a little childish.
She headed for a hill that overlooked the road that went from Jericho in the Jordan River Valley to the great city of Jerusalem. There was an old oak tree there that she liked to sit under and daydream. As she got there, she sat down on her favorite spot which was a cushion of grass between two roots. From her vantage point, she can see the road wind down the highlands. There was hardly any traffic on the road except for a lone wagon heading for the city and what looks like two men riding donkeys still some distance away.
Mary wondered if that could finally be her brother Lazarus returning home with her father. Her eyes teared up again whenever she thought of her father. Nine years ago, her father, Simon, became infected by the dreaded leprosy. Her most painful memory was watching him leaving home forever, to waste away in the wilderness alone to die. She so wanted to hug him badly, but was prevented lest she too be infected. Then they heard of a miraculous healer from up north. Her brother didn’t hesitate to go where their father exiled himself and bring him to that healer. That was about two weeks ago. She had hoped and fantasized he would be miraculously healed. But then she could not help remembering Martha’s words saying that no leper had ever been healed. Even her uncle did not believe the stories coming down from the north.
“Oh Abba! I miss you so,” she sobbed and her eyes were teary. She got on her knees and turned in the direction of Jerusalem, to where the Temple of God sat on that holy mountain. She bowed down and prayed, “Dear Lord… I beseech you again for your incredible mercy to bring my father home. I recall the story of how your servant Elijah lain upon the dead body of a boy and brought him back to life. Oh Lord, oh Lord. If Elijah can bring a dead boy back, well Lord… I am sorry, Lord. I am too presumptuous. Forgive me, Lord. I am not deserving. I am just a girl who misses her Abba.”
Content that she had done her devotional duty, Mary returns to her favorite spot to watch the comings and goings of the people on the road. Her favorite pastime was to randomly choose anyone on the road and imagine what exotic country they came from or what adventure awaited them. She looks up the road, still not much traffic. The lone wagon was out of sight. So, she turns her gaze downwards, tracing the winding road down the highland until she again spots the two men riding donkeys. They were a lot closer now, maybe about three miles. She closed her eyes and imagined that they were merchants from the ancient mountains of Moab from that secret stronghold called Petra. But they are not just merchants, they are actually Nabatean assassins heading for the city. They were sent by the Nabataean king to take revenge on Herod Antipas for divorcing his wife, the daughter of the Nabataean king. Mary smiled on what her imagination conjured up. The part of the story where Herod Antipas divorced his Nabatean wife for Herodias, his brother’s wife, is true. She heard it said by the Baptist before he was arrested by Herod.
For a good forty five minutes, she creatively weaves her tale of other villains, heroes and heroines, including an unrequited love affair. But then in the midst of her reverie, she heard a distant whistling sound. At first, she paid it no mind, but then she heard the whistling sound again and it sounded a lot closer. She took a squinty peek out one eye, but everything was blurry. So, she opened her eyes wide, and had to blink twice to clear her vision. What she saw were the two men riding donkeys who she playfully imagined were assassins, were actually her brother on the lead donkey and an older man riding the other ass.
“Lazarus!” She gleefully stood up and waved at him. Then her eyes widened in disbelief. The old man got off his ride, pulled off his head cover and veil that hid his face and slowly walked toward her.
“Hello my sweet cherub,” said the old man.
“Abba?” Mary asked, not believing her eyes. Then, as he came closer, she recognized his smile. “Abba… Abba!” She dashed down the short hill to the road but stopped dead in her tracks as she remembered that she could not come close.
“It is fine, Mary,” said Lazarus as he put a hand on his shoulder. “Father is well and healthy.”
Mary then jumped into her father’s embrace.
Click to go to Part 2
Mary of Bethany is an actual person based in the Gospels of the Bible, but this short story is basically fiction.
There are many such characters in the Bible, many of them were not named at all, but yet there are worthy stories to tell about them. With the help of some sanctified imagination and some artistic license, I felt their stories should be told especially of their faithful encounters with Jesus Christ.
2 responses to “MARY, THE FAITHFUL ONE [part 1]”
Intriguing! I like the way you are weaving fact and fiction.
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