I was deaf already. I had been my whole life. My eyes worked just fine, though, which meant I saw perfectly well how Jesus healed the blind man in town. The act itself was one thing, watching a man I had known for a long time go from blind as a bat to seeing fully with eyes of wonder. I confess, it did annoy me a little bit. Jesus had walked right by me that morning as I sat on the curb, begging, and went for the blind man instead. Granted, I wasn’t looking up at the time to see him coming and get his attention. I guess I just missed my chance.
But, I wondered, what if I kept after him? If I got another chance, I wouldn’t miss it again, I swore to myself. After all, as I said, the act was one thing. Jesus’ smile was another. He had a hurricane in his eyes—soft joy at what he was doing and brimming sorrow that it had to be done. That hurricane drew me in. I had never seen anything like it in all my life, so I followed him.
I followed him out of town, down the road, and into Jerusalem. I was still deaf, so I couldn’t hear the cheers and singing of his name when he entered the town. Crowds gathered, hundreds of people. They gave him a donkey to ride in on and laid out coats and branches along the road for him, like a royal carpet.
Eventually, I lost him in the chaos, as I was shoved and driven with the current until I ended up in an alleyway alone. It was late in the day, so I took shelter in that alleyway and slept for the night. The next day, I wandered the streets, hoping to spot Jesus again. With a welcoming like he’d received, I figured he wouldn’t be too hard to find. Sure enough, late that afternoon, a surging crowd moved through the streets, and I was carried off to join them. We must be going to see Jesus, I thought! And we were, but under circumstances I would never have dreamed of finding him.
The herd of curious people led me to the temple and straight on inside, where we came upon a horrifying scene. Jesus was tearing the place apart! Animals scattered everywhere, as did priests and peddlers, as chairs flew through the air and tables flipped over. The ground was littered with coins and scales and cages. Jesus breathed heavy, his chest rising and falling. And I saw it… that hurricane in his eyes—this time, that he did what he had to, and it broke his heart.
It was odd to me, but I noticed amid the wreckage, bowls of incense that were spilled over as well. Such a sweet scent in such a terrible sight, I wondered. But that’s when I realized, I couldn’t smell it. I sniffed and sniffed. I even got closer, as best I could, and gave such a whiff to one pile that some of the embers stung my nose, but still I smelled nothing. I ran out into the market and plunged my face into a bushel of apples, a stack of fresh bread, and finally—desperately—a barrel of dead fish. Nothing.
Deaf, and now unable to smell as well, I found my way back to the alleyway and lay down to cry myself to sleep. I was awakened the next day by a big hand shaking my shoulder. I looked up, groggy (and a bit grumpy), to see a burly man with sharp eyes standing over me. He was one of Jesus’ friends! At the revelation, I gave a start and he stepped back to give me space. When I was fully awake and had my bearings, he motioned for me to follow him. We left the alleyway and went into the market, my least favorite place in the world now that I couldn’t smell anything.
I rubbed the sleep from my eyes. The man moved from stall to stall methodically, thumping bread and sampling herbs. When he found things that met his standards—whatever those were—he would pay for them, bag them, and then hand them to me to carry. I noticed we were not the only patrons making these purchases. Everyone around us seemed to be buying the same things.
Once we had everything, I followed the man, my arms full as well as his, out of the market and into a less busy part of town. We came to a house where he let himself in and we went straight upstairs. There, we found a long table in an otherwise empty room. Another couple of men joined us. I recognized them as some of Jesus’ friends as well. We all worked together to set the table with the groceries I had just gathered with the one man. When it was complete, we stood back and admired it for a moment together. Slapping one another on the back, we left the room.
Back out on the street, the burly man shook my hand and gave me a nod of thanks. As we parted ways, he placed a half-loaf of bread in my hand and smiled. Little did he know, I only went around the corner of the house. I sat there, leaning against the wall for the rest of the day, holding that bread to my chest like a treasure. Evening came. I saw the men return and Jesus was with them now. They went into the house and I could see a light come on in the window as they gathered around the table we had set upstairs. So close, at last, in proximity to Jesus again, I let out a deep sigh and took a bite of my bread.
I tasted nothing. Another bite. Nothing. Another.
It might as well have been sand or wood. Frustrated, I crushed the remaining bits in my hands and let the crumbs fall to the ground. Tears burned my eyes and ran down my cold face in the growing night. What was happening to me? So close to Jesus, who healed people left and right, and yet I was falling apart. I stared at the crumbs and shuddered in misery.