by Jose Marte Abueg
And he sent two of his disciples, and said to them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him, and wherever he enters, say to the householder, `The Teacher says….’” – Mark 14:13-14
The wells look alike around Jerusalem , it occurred to him. This one is the oldest. That’s what the old folks say. As a young man I asked one of them how certain he was, and he pointed at the sky.
Many days the sky mirrors the desert or the lake; at night it can look like the bottom of a very big well. An endless river could be running underneath that well, another elder said. I didn’t understand at the time.
Many afternoons I sit around here, watching people and things. Passing shadows, mostly. And listening to people spilling words, he mused. The things that matter take longer than an afternoon, an olive picker said. But most times the words were also shadows, or moths in uncertain space.
This hour we are shepherds gathering our flocks, said a shopkeeper after closing up for the day, and a lad walked by with a staff. That boy’s father always passed here at dusk. Nothing ever gets different, a sack maker said.
Yet there was that Thursday afternoon, during the Passover.
A house servant, a widow, was having difficulty at the well, so I took her pail and jar, and filled them up for her. It was her son that fetched water, she said, but she had sent him for some wine because her master was having visitors for supper. A teacher was coming, she said, with twelve others. He glimpsed at the sky, it was starting to get dark, and he heard without listening.
The widow’s words were turning into moths when she tapped his arm. Be kind a little bit more and take this jar to my master’s house for me, please, I must hurry with this pail to prepare the large upper room and the long table.
There where I was walking I saw two men arrive, they saw me and I nodded, I carried the jar of water and they followed. There were no words. I did not know and yet I knew—the teacher had sent them.
There was a kind of quiet and there was not, there was a kind of brightness and there was not. Through the desert, the lake and the sky it came and it did not. It was infinity passing through and it was not.