“The Judas Chronicles – IV” / A Memorable Fancy #176

I leave it all to mother, dear heart, who never did approve of her accountant son. She wanted me to do with grain or fruit, with growing something in the earth and sun, wheat or lemons, mandarines. Well now, I’ve bought a field I’ve never seen, supposed to be good earth, well settled in citrus and shaded with cedar, good for growing trees; bought for a song – about a man. What will it grow for me?


     The farmers’ custom calls for prayer upon a planting field. “Hosanna for things of the earth!” So starts the prayer the farmers make; they go on at some length. And seeing now that custom calls for prayer I make my own beseeching: Take my bones and blood in this fair field of good brown earth. Let me have to do with wheat and lemons bearing, cedars, mandarines. Bless this land and give me peace.


     “I hear he hung himself with the cord of his robe. I had nightmares all last night. Someone said, ‘I had my nightmares the night before.’ His family gave him quite a bash – Kaddish in the Temple, then a fancy lunch at the King David for the mourners. The Jerusalem Post did a fine obit:

“‘Judas, Charitable Group Financial Executive.’”


     “He left a note – they all do. He wrote a list of the people who gave him trouble – blamed them for his death.

“Your name was right on top.”


     “Haven’t you heard? He burst apart along the seams like a bag of soggy wheat until his bowels gushed out upon his land. Some say it was a curse for turning in that man, you know, the one who made the cripples rise and walk. Haven’t you heard? But one who saw the dead face of Judas – the face, he told me, it flamed with a kind of – delight.”


     “Because there had to be Twelve, one man to mean each tribe, because one had gone away to kill himself, there was a lottery. And because God willed the long straw to win, and because God willed Matthias to draw that straw, the lot fell to him; I lost.

“Rock came to me that day, and told me. He knew that I would bow to God’s will. He knew that I would continue to serve the Lord in any way I might be called. He knew that I would Understand.

“I saw them pass by in the street, Matthias among them proud and humble, trying to fit in with their talk, learning how to pray with them, learning to make habits of strange ways, learning how each of them is to be spoken with, and of, and how each deals a little differently with life.

“What is there about me the Spirit does not love, or loves Matthias more? Maybe something dark the Spirit knows of me that I do not; a growth not yet seen, a lurking in a corner, something somewhere sudden –.

“Twelve men taste Heaven. I should have been a Hittite slave knowing three hills and a herd; then I would not grieve. I should have been a first-born lamb torn upon the altar, shrieking its life away; then I would have had a different grief. My life has come very close; I have almost come to Heaven. One short straw a little longer, and –.

“They pass in the street, Matthias among them, learning how to multiply the loaves, and why.

“I grieve my life forever.”


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