The inspiration for this story may be obvious to some but not to others. It could be the beginning of a longer story, a first chapter.
I have used anglicised versions of ALL the names because I thought it would be less of a distraction or more subtle. The photos were all taken by me in 2011.
As always, constructive feedback is much appreciated.
Salome sat on the earthen floor of the corner room at the back of the house, feeding a shuttle between the cords on her hand-loom. Light shone in through the window, bringing with it heat and noise from outside, the latter of which Salome was successfully ignoring. The thick stone walls of the house offered some protection from the harsh hot sun outside, but shuttering the windows to keep the heat out meant no light to work by. Only the richest had glass or, more rarely, alabaster, to provide protection from the weather.
Salome quite enjoyed the repetitive yet creative action of weaving. She found the monotony therapeutic. It was a time of peace for Salome in a household that was often full of noise and action. It didn’t feel like work her and so she felt no guilt about her action, despite it being a day of rest.
|The ruins of Capernaum.|
As she wove, her thoughts turned to her beloved husband, her rock, Simon. Salome smiled as she considered his act first think second attitude to life, useful when he was out working with his fishing boat, but not a recipe for a calm and orderly life at home. In spite of this, Salome knew that he had a good heart. They had two young boys to add to the chaos, chips off the old block, and Salome was fairly sure that another child was on the way. They all lived in her mother’s house in a small town, Capernaum, not far from the lake, Lake Tiberius, which provided Simon and his brother with their livelihood as fishermen. Today, she was taking a break from caring for her sick mother, while the boys were out somewhere with older cousins who lived next door and Simon was at the Synagogue.
|The synagogue in Capernaum.|
In the distance, but apparently inside, she heard a door bang followed by a shout. With that, the peace of the house was replaced by bustle and excitement. Salome calmly left her weaving, stood up and left the room for the main part of the house, to look for her husband, who she guessed had returned from the Synagogue with friends in tow, to see if he wanted a meal.
Salome looked down the corridor to the front door and was surprised to see a large crowd standing outside near the open front door. Just instead were Simon, who greeted her with an excited grin, and Andrew, his brother. With them was a stranger. Hovering closest to the door, just outside were John and James, friends and fellow fishermen of her husband.
As she approached, the stranger, a man, looked up at her. She gasped and stared back at him, frozen in a moment of awe. It wasn’t that he was attractive; in fact, she had no real sense of his appearance. It was his eyes. They seemed to pierce her soul to its darkest depths, exposing every secret. And yet, there was kindness in his gaze, a look that said, “I know you, I truly and fully know you, and I will love you anyway.”
Salome felt a wave of peace wash over her. Then the man smiled and the spell was almost broken. She shook her head, as if trying to wake up and bring herself back to reality, and turned to Simon.
“What is going on? Who are all these people? Mother is not well and we are not prepared for guests.” Salome spoke softly and slowly, her voice revealing curiosity rather than accusation.
“May I see your mother? Perhaps I can do something for her?” The stranger had soft yet deep voice that seemed to penetrate as deeply into her soul as his eyes. Every word he spoke was like a precious jewel to treasure.
The man put a reassuring hand on her shoulder. Warmth flooded through her and as it reached her belly, she felt a flutter; the first movement of the child she now knew with a certainty was growing there. It was as if the baby recognised the man’s touch. Then Salome found herself leading the man up the stairs by the door to her mother’s bedroom.
Her mother, Mary, was asleep but restless and she looked feverish. Salome could see that her condition had deteriorated since she had last checked on her. About to rush over to attend to her mother, Salome was surprised when the man held her back and walked passed her into the room. He approached the bed, crouching down beside it, and put his hand on her mother’s forehead and then took her hand. He leant over and whispered something in her ear. The next moment, Salome was stunned to see her mother sitting up and getting out of the bed as she had never been ill.
“Come downstairs and I will prepare you a meal.” Mary smiled at the stranger like he was an old friend as she spoke. She then led Salome and the stranger back downstairs to the fishermen.
Simon showed no surprise at seeing his mother-in-law up and about, looking to be in perfect health, even though he had seen that she was so unwell before he went out that morning. Instead, he followed her through to the dining room, bringing with him the stranger and Andrew, plus John and James who had joined the group. Salome went to help her mother prepare and serve the food, leaving the men to talk.
After the meal, the men were getting ready to leave when Salome realised that she hadn’t been properly introduced to the stranger. As Andrew was closest at that moment, she turned to him and asked the stranger’s name.
“He is Joshua, from Nazareth.” said Andrew with a hint of awe.
The name meant nothing to Salome, and yet she could see that the man was someone special, so she gave her brother-in-law an enquiring look to elicit more information.
“It is him!” Andrew added, somewhat cryptically.
Simon, overhearing the conversation turned to her and said, “We are going with him.”
“Where?” As Salome asked the question, she could see the answer in her husband’s eyes. Simon, Andrew and the others would follow this man anywhere, absolutely anywhere, to the ends of the earth or the gates of Hades, without question. Yet, instead of fear or anger, Salome felt was that she trusted the stranger and that no evil would overtake her husband.
|The house where Simon (Peter) was said to have lived in Capernaum.|