“Now what are you up to, Marc,” said Lady, magically not appearing on this Wednesday morning, since last night was a double billing of signing her little plaster houses for the gringos at a resort in lands to the east, and the weekly poetry slam. So that made for a long night, which makes for a long morning, devoted to and attended by Morpheus, guarding Lady in her deep and much-merited slumber.
“Get back to bed,” I tell Lady. “You don’t always have to be here, since in fact you’re never not here. Anyway, the Patriarch of the Tribe of Amir is here, and does walk the café, rendering homage to guests and…”
“Enough—are you still cooking up that religion?”
“Just written the first parable,” I told her, “and let me tell you, the stuff just writes itself. If I’m going to be doing this for a year, I’m gonna be freakin’ bored, and so will everyone else. In fact, the parable was so boring that the woman at the next table was yawning!”
“Why a parable?”
Can’t she see? If this is going to be any religion at all, it’s gotta have the stuff that religions are made of. In fact, today’s task should be to make a miracle, which would be appropriate, since we are in the 16th week after Trinity.
“I don’t know why I’m worried about it, because really, whoever wrote Luke—if it wasn’t Luke—didn’t go to any particular trouble about it. In fact, it’s as thin as a Wal-Mart sheet….”
“What is, Marc?”
“The miracle of the son of the widow of Nain.”
“Don’t know it.”
“Neither did I, but I had to look it up, since the cantata for the 16th week after Trinity is supposed to be based on it. So here it is….”
11 Soon afterward Jesus went to a town named Nain, accompanied by His disciples and a large crowd. 12 And when He arrived at the gate of the town, a funeral procession was coming out. A young man had died, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. 13 And when the Lord saw her, His heart was filled with pity for her, and He said to her, “Do not weep”. 14 Then He walked over and touched the coffin, while the pallbearers stood still. Jesus said to the dead man, “Young man, I say to thee, arise!” And he who was dead, sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother.
16 Then they all were filled with awe and praised God. And they said, “A great prophet has risen among us”, and “God has visited His people”.
17 This news about Jesus went out through all the country and the surrounding territory.
“That’s it?” said Lady.
“That’s totally it. As an English teacher, I have to say that the story is completely lacking. Does the widow of Nain have a history, what they call the “back story” nowadays? Is she rich or poor, young or old? Why does she not have any dialogue? Did she recognize that Jesus was the savior? Did she entreat him to intercede? For that matter, why did Christ stick his nose in the whole business? Weren’t there funerals left and right at the time? Or was he getting a visit that day from the head honcho from Home Office, and feel the need to perform a little miracle?”
“Look, any five-year old child could cook up a better miracle than that. Anyway, isn’t raising the dead just a bit of a cliché, or was it new and brave at the time? Evidently not, since there is the Raising of the Son of the Widow of Zarephath—I’m not making this up—in Elijah.”
“You know, the more I look at it, the less convinced I am about this Jesus thing,” I told her. “Christ is supposed to be running around doing all this bat-shit stuff like raising the dead and throwing the money changers out of the temple and causing earthquakes and eclipses after his death. But nobody gets around to writing about it until well after his death, even though—in theory, and what do I know—the first century was well documented, for the time. Anyway, I don’t know why I’m going to all the trouble of inventing parables and miracles—of a substantially higher order than the Bible’s—when verily there did come to be in the Poet’s Passage an instrument sent via the angels who guided the hands of Omar, esteemed and revered acolyte of the Poet’s Passage.”
A piano had appeared yesterday in the Poet’s Passage. Those of a less mystic mindset reported that Omar had seen a pastor who was trying to get rid of four pianos.
“Do you suppose miracles will appear weekly in the Poet’s Passage, now that I’m busying myself inventing them?” I asked Lady. “Is this a sign? And if God is sending us pianos, how do we know that next week He won’t be peeved, and send us a plague of locusts? I worry a bit that I might be opening the door, as it were, to the other world, and who knows what might pop in?”
“Ridiculous, we’re not having locusts in the Passage,” said Lady. “Anyway, last week was all about poverty, and look how that worked out! A piano! So what’s this week—the 16th after whatever—about?”
“Get ready,” I told her, “it’s all about death.”
“Well, well, from poverty to death—I can see that.”
“There is a certain connection,” I told her. “But it’s interesting that Bach is more into death than your average Goth. Oh, and the world stinks, according to him.”
“Well, take this…”
Liebster Gott, wenn werd ich sterben?
Meine Zeit läuft immer hin,
und des alten Adams Erben,
unter denen ich auch bin,
haben dies zum Vaterteil,
daß sie eine kleine Weil
arm und elend sein auf Erden
und denn selber Erde warden
“Marc, you know I don’t speak German…”
“Neither do I, so I cheat and use the Bach Cantatas website. Short version: When, Dear Lord, will I die? For we occupy this wretched earth but for a little time, until we then become earth itself.”
“Oh, very cheery,” said Lady. “Anyone would be jumping out of bed on a Sunday morning, ignoring the effects of Saturday night, just to hear that message!”
“Well, you have to admit, it’s a good strategy. And really, life was not so great in Bach’s time. They had just gotten done with the 30 years war, which had been one of the longest and bloodiest struggles in European History. The plague was still around, and had killed at least a third of the population earlier in the century. And did you know that in Bach’s time, there was a dance plague?”
“Yup, people were spontaneously breaking into hysterical dancing, which sounds funny but wasn’t. They danced and danced to the point of exhaustion, and then fell dead of cardiac arrest. Nobody has ever been able to explain it.”
Lady considers this.
“Look,” she said, “however bad life was, dancing your way to death sounds pretty good to me.”
She may be right….