I was a merchant in Jerusalem.
I sold tall clay jars and wine in tall jars in a narrow
stall on a big street of such stalls. My business was
a profitable one, I made a good living, and I enjoyed
my work. I had many friends, some very close. My wife
was a wonderful woman; we were very happy together,
and our children were a joy to us.
One day---I was alone in the shop, looking, as I did,
onto the street---three bearded men in white walked
by. One of them stopped, and, from the street, caught
my gaze in his. In an instant, I knew that he Knew.
He knew everything about me: my life, my pleasures,
my hopes, my worries. But that was not important. He
knew something else. He was that something, and as he
looked at me---ten seconds perhaps---I saw that my life
was a little thing, an unimportant thing. It meant nothing
whether my business failed or I became rich, whether
I had a shrew for a wife or an adoring woman. None of
And this man had not said a word to me.
For the next weeks, I was like a man in a daze. Nothing
had changed in my life, yet what I now understood made
it all like ashes. There was nothing to say, even to
my closest friend.
I had no desire to see this man again, but somehow,
quite by accident, I came on him preaching in one of
the squares, and although I didn't stay to hear him,
I later asked and found out his name.
When I next heard of him, I heard he was to be crucified.
That day, I went down to my stall, went inside, but
did not open the front of the stall. I spent the day
inside the dark stall, crying.
I did not look for the man then, or since then, but
that one look---I could not help it. I have looked for
For months I did not know what to do. My business was
fine, my marriage fine, my friends still friendly. I
was not fine.
This man had opened a door in me, a door to a large,
empty room. From time to time, I would feel completely
hollow and find myself in tears.
Less than a year later, I told my wife I was going on
a voyage, left her with most of my money, and sailed
for Greece. I was looking for something: I did not know
what. In Delphi, at the temple of the oracle, I wished
to enter, but I did not know what to ask. The eyes of
the priest so reminded me of His eyes that I left.
I believe I spent many years as a solitary teacher of
boys in Eastern Europe, in a place where I was unknown.
I do not know if I ever saw my family again.
Posted August 19, 2016