Conversations with a lead sky



He had come as far as he thought he could, but still faced the hardest part of the journey.

Behind him lay family and friends, victims of a vision that goaded him in his waking, in his sleeping, his dream of what the world might be.

He had prayed and argued, or argued and prayed, until he had nothing left to say to the lead sky or the fickle crowds, yesterday their champion, tonight the butt of their jokes and rumors.

He had seen the worst in people and looked beyond it, the best and called it into question.

He remembered the young man, bright-eyed who had come seeking his approval.

“What must I do to inherit eternal life?” he asked.

“Love God and love your neighbor,” he told him.

“I do,” the man said in all sincerity.

“Then go sell what you have, give it to the poor and come walk this path with me.”

And he remembered the look in the young man’s eyes, the way he turned away and shuffled down the hillside without a backward glance.

He knew the young man had seen what lay ahead on the road he offered him in exchange for his soul, the rich young ruler that resided in the halls of power, for yet a little while.

He thought of three Marys, a big fisherman all bluster and heart, of a traitor soon to ply his trade.

He allowed a smile when he pictured short Zacchaeus stuck in a tree.

When the wind kicked up, he smelled the smoke of Gehenna, the trash dump of Jerusalem, he had used to describe the end of a life not well-lived.

A stronger breeze reminded him of the unpredictability of all things.  “You can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going,” he had told the crowds who inquired about God’s spirit.

Before he got up off his knees, one last image came to him, the one that had haunted him from childhood, the site of a hill shaped like a skull.

“Whatever you want,” he said to the lead sky.



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