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Chapter 74 - James the brother of the Lord: The Last Supper
A THOUSAND TIMES I have been visited by the memory of that night. And I know now that I shall be visited a thousand times again.
The earth shall forget the furrows ploughed upon her breast, and a woman the pain and joy of childbirth, ere I shall forget that night.
In the afternoon we had been outside the walls of Jerusalem, and Jesus had said, "Let us go into the city now and take supper at the inn."
It was dark when we reached the inn, and we were hungry. The innkeeper greeted us and led us to an upper chamber.
And Jesus bade us sit around the board, but He himself remained standing, and His eyes rested upon us.
And He spoke to the keeper of the inn and said, "Bring me a basin and a pitcher full of water, and a towel."
And He looked at us again and said gently, "Cast off your sandals."
We did not understand, but at His command we cast them off.
Then the keeper of the inn brought the basin and the pitcher; and Jesus said, "Now I will wash your feet. For I must needs free your feet from the dust of the ancient road, and give them the freedom of the new way."
And we were all abashed and shy.
Then Simon Peter stood up and said: "How shall I suffer my Master and my Lord to wash my feet?"
And Jesus answered, "I will wash your feet that you may remember that he who serves men shall be the greatest among men."
Then He looked at each one of us and He said: "The Son of Man who has chosen you for His brethren, He whose feet were anointed yesterday with myrrh of Arabia and dried with a women's hair, desires now to wash your feet."
And He took the basin and the pitcher and kneeled down and washed our feet, beginning with Judas Iscariot.
Then He sat down with us at the board; and His face was like the dawn rising upon a battlefield after a night of strife and blood-shedding.
And the keeper of the inn came with his wife, bringing food and wine.
And though I had been hungry before Jesus knelt at my feet, now I had no stomach for food. And there was a flame in my throat which I would not quench with wine.
Then Jesus took a loaf of bread and gave to us, saying, "Perhaps we shall not break bread again. Let us eat this morsel in remembrance of our days in Galilee."
And He poured wine from the jug into a cup and He drank, and gave to us, and He said, "Drink this in remembrance of a thirst we have known together. And drink it also in hope for the new vintage. When I am enfolded and am no more among you, and when you meet here or elsewhere, break the bread and pour the wine, and eat and drink even as you are doing now. Then look about you; and perchance you may see me sitting with you at the board."
After saying this He began to distribute among us morsels of fish and pheasant, like a bird feeding its fledglings.
We ate little yet we were filled; and we drank but a drop, for we felt that the cup was like a space between this land and another land.
Then Jesus said, "Ere we leave this board let us rise and sing the joyous hymns of Galilee."
And we rose and sang together, and His voice was above our voices, and there was a ringing in every word of His words.
And He looked at our faces, each and every one, and He said, "Now I bid you farewell. Let us go beyond these walls. Let us go unto Gethsemane."
And John the Son of Zebedee said, "Master, why do you say farewell to us this night?"
And Jesus said, "Let not your heart be troubled. I only leave you to prepare a place for you in my Father's house. But if you shall be in need of me, I will come back to you. Where you call me, there I shall hear you, and wherever your spirit shall seek me, there I will be.
"Forget not that thirst leads to the winepress, and hunger to the wedding-feast.
"It is in your longing that you shall find the Son of Man. For longing is the fountain-head of ecstasy, and it is the path to the Father."
And John spoke again and said, "If you would indeed leave us, how shall we be of good cheer? And why speak you of separation?"
And Jesus said, "The hunted stag knows the arrow of the hunter before it feels it in his breast; and the river is aware of the sea ere it comes to her shore. And the Son of Man has traveled the ways of men.
Before another almond tree renders her blossoms to the sun, my roots shall be reaching into the heart of another field."
Then Simon Peter said: "Master, leave us not now, and deny us not the joy of your presence. Where you go we too will go; and wherever you abide there we will be also."
And Jesus put His hand upon Simon Peter's shoulder, and smiled upon him, and He said, "Who knows but that you may deny me before this night is over, and leave me before I leave you?"
Then of a sudden He said, "Now let us go hence."
And He left the inn and we followed Him. But when we reached the gate of the city, Judas of Iscariot was no longer with us. And we crossed the Valley of Jahannam. Jesus walked far ahead of us, and we walked close to one another.
When He reached an olive grove he stopped and turned towards us saying, "Rest here for an hour."
The evening was cool, though it was full spring with the mulberries unfolding their shoots and the apple trees in bloom. And the gardens were sweet.
Each one of us sought the trunk of a tree, and we lay down. I myself gathered my cloak around me and lay under a pine tree.
But Jesus left us and walked by Himself in the olive grove. And I watched Him while the others slept.
He would suddenly stand still, and again He would walk up and down. This He did many times.
Then I saw Him lift His face towards the sky and outstretch His arms to east and west.
Once He had said, "Heaven and earth, and hell too, are of man." And now I remembered His saying, and I knew that He who was pacing the olive grove was heaven made man; and I bethought me that the womb of the earth is not a beginning nor an end, but rather a chariot, a pause; and a moment of wonder and surprise; and hell I saw also, in the valley called Jahannam, which lay between Him and the Holy City.
And as He stood there and I lay wrapped in my garment, I heard His voice speaking. But He was not speaking to us. Thrice I heard Him pronounce the word Father . And that was all I heard.
After a while His arms dropped down, and He stood still like a cypress tree between my eyes and the sky.
At last He came over among us again, and He said to us, "Wake and rise. My hour has come. The world is already upon us, armed for battle."
And then He said, "A moment ago I heard the voice of my Father. If I see you not again, remember that the conqueror shall not have peace until he is conquered."
And when we had risen and come close to Him, His face was like the starry heaven above the desert.
Then He kissed each one of us upon the cheek. And when His lips touched my cheek, they were hot, like the hand of a child in fever.
Suddenly we heard a great noise in the distance, as of numbers, and when it came near it was a company of men approaching with lanterns and slaves. And they came in haste.
As they reached the hedge of the grove Jesus left us and went forth and met them. And Judas of Iscariot was leading them.
There were Roman soldiers with swords and spears, and men of Jerusalem with clubs and pickaxes.
And Judas came up to Jesus and kissed Him. And then he said to the armed men, "This is the Man."
And Jesus said to Judas, "Judas, you were patient with me. This could have been yesterday."
Then He turned to the armed men and said: "Take me now. But see that your cage is large enough for these wings."
Then they fell upon Him and held Him, and they were all shouting.
But we in our fear ran away and sought to escape. I ran alone through the olive groves, nor had I power to be mindful, nor did any voice speak in me except my fear.
Through the two or three hours that remained of that night I was fleeing and hiding, and at dawn I found myself in a village near Jericho.
Why had I left Him? I do not know. But to my sorrow I did leave Him. I was a coward and I fled from the face of His enemies.
Then I was sick and ashamed at heart, and I returned to Jerusalem, but He was a prisoner, and no friend could have speech with Him.
He was crucified, and His blood has made new clay of the earth.
And I am living still; I am living upon the honeycomb of His sweet life.
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