There was no hope, or so I believed. She was so ill, my sweet little daughter. My wife had already given up and hovered by the bed waiting for the final breath, wrapped six miles deep in gloom. It was stifling; it was unbearable. I have always been a man of action, a man does not get to my position by wishful thinking, and I had to act. When the usual things do not work, you try the unusual things, even the risky ones if you are desperate enough, and I was desperate. To see that precious life snuffed out would be like helplessly watching the sun set knowing it would never rise again. I have always been a pious man, a ruler of the synagogue, so I cried out to God, and, within the space of a breath, I remembered the Teacher from Nazareth.
I had heard he was nearby, so I flung on my cloak and went forth to seek him. It wasn’t difficult, I only had to follow the noise of the crowd, and there he was, unmistakable, at its centre, while the people thronged around him, each one wanting something from him. Well, I couldn’t fault them for that, I desperately wanted something from him as well. People recognised me and let me through, and before I knew what I was doing, I found myself prostrate at his feet, begging him to come and heal my little one – I who had never begged any man for anything before! He looked into my face as if he were searching my very soul, and immediately agreed.
We made slow progress through the crowd, with everyone wanting something from him as he passed, but he stayed focused on me except for one incident with a woman who touched him. I was inwardly screaming with impatience, so I didn’t follow exactly what went on, but I said nothing, because I didn’t dare offend him.
And then, when we were properly on our way, some of my own people met us, and told us we were too late, she was already dead. It was as if my heart left my body and plunged into an abyss of darkness. But the Teacher seemed quite unperturbed, he turned to me and said, “Don’t be afraid, only believe.” I wondered what I was supposed to believe, but I was too shattered to say anything, and simply, blindly, kept going with him. He let no one else, except 3 of his disciples, come any further with us.
He swept into the house and dismissed the mourners and all their cacophony, telling them that she was not dead, only asleep, and they laughed at him; but though they offered him only the bitter laughter that one gives to the lunatic pedlar of impossible hopes, they scattered when he told them, and I marvelled, briefly at his authority. Greater marvels were to come, though, for he bent over my little one, took her hand and bid her to rise. And it was as if the dawn came while the sunset still lingered in the sky, for she rose from her bed and walked, and hope walked into our lives again, a doorway into glory.
And then, in the most ordinary way possible, he told us to give her food.
And I began to glimpse that, somehow, in this one man, heaven and earth had joined together. It was much later before I fully understood.