Three days later there was a wedding in the village of Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there. Jesus and his disciples were guests also. When they started running low on wine at the wedding banquet, Jesus’ mother told him, “They’re just about out of wine.” (John 2:1-3 The Message)
It was in Cana in Galilee,
in a fish smelling village by the sea,
that Y’shua first stood to the test,
taking the stubborn stuff of earth
and altering it, by asking…
Because his mother asked it of him,
he came out from the crowded dark of the wedding house,
from the wine-strong song and laughter of the guests,
to stand beneath the pole shed’s roof of woven branches
in the courtyard and consider.
(His first and best friend, John,
and a new met stranger, Judas,
followed, but stopped short,
Judas’s hand on John’s arm staying,
unseen in the shadow of the doorway.)
Y’shua stood silently contemplating
the rack of ewers that held the household water
(now half empty with the ritual
washing of so many wedding guests).
Servants came and went about him.
He bobbed like a cork in a restless sea
shifting to the insistent rhythm of their errands.
Suddenly he snagged one by the sleeve.
“Here,” he said, “get a bucket and fill these jars…”
The servant stared, then seeing something in those eyes
he went, got help, and did it.
In the plaited shadows of the summer kitchen,
Y’shua stood and hummed,
like a new-made bow at first and full draw,
untried, taut with promise, vibrant with purpose.
Snatches of a psalm quivered beneath his breath
and he beat time to it with a hand upon his thigh
as he studied with inner eye the deed he was about to do.
“Will there be anything else, master?”
a pointed question put to a guest
who had already exceeded his privilege.
Y’shua smiled self-consciously
and appeared to address the pale patch
of sky framed in courtyard walls.
He spoke a single word,
placing all his questions in it…
His eyes fell quickly.
He drew a breath from the ground beneath
his feet and slowly let it sigh between his lips.
The impatient servant shifted from foot to foot
between Y’shua and the jars.
Y’shua pushed the dust up in a little heap
with sandaled toes and looked up shyly.
A boyish grin blossomed on his lips.
“Draw some off and take it to the steward of the feast.”
The servant opened his mouth in instant protest,
thought better of it, shrugged,
and turned to do as he was asked.
Now, for Y’shua, time itself slowed.
An eternity passed in the slow turning of the servant,
in the rise of the ladle from its leather thong,
in its fall.
The sound as it parted the surface of the liquid
took eons to reach Y’shua’s ears.
The ladle rose from the liquid
like the dawn swelling on
the far horizon of the sea.
stammered the servant with quavering wonder,
“the water is red…”
But Y’shua knew already.
He had come up to see the sun rise
over the servant’s shoulder.
When the servant turned,
still clutching the brimming ladle,
it was to see a man transformed.
Y’shua stood, the psalm now a raging fire within him,
a living offering of praise, his soul full-flowered,
eyes closed, lips parted, translated to a pillar
of ecstasy there in the courtyard by the ewers.
(Behind him in the doorway,
Judas’s hand tightened on John’s arm
with a sharp in-drawn breath,
and John sank slowly to his knees,
eyes huge with wonder.)
The frightened servant, caught between
the transformed water and the transformed man,
fled on flying feet to find the steward.
The ladle held before him like a live coal
shed drops that splashed the paving
of the yard with blood and fire.
As soon as he was gone,
Y’shua let loose the yet soundless spring
within him in a sudden shout,
laughed aloud at himself, and began to sing…
lending rhythm to the slow spinning dance
he did, arms raised, before the Lord.
(In the doorway John dropped his eyes and began to pray.
Judas simply stared.)
Both were shouldered aside by the groom as he came,
brim full of the hilarity of his own feast,
belatedly to see about the wine.
Y’shua drew himself up in the deeper shadow
of the roof as the groom, the errand having slipped
his wine and wedding-night anticipation muddled mind,
wandered aimlessly over to the rack of ewers
and stood staring up at the sky.
Now, like a merchantman under full sail,
the steward of the feast, all business and bustle,
came beaming down upon the groom from another door,
drawing the still incredulous and shaking servant in his wake.
“My good man,” said the steward in portentous tones,
“most serve the sound wine first and after
their guests have drunk slip in the bad…
You sir, have saved the best for last.”
And he turned to supervise the drawing.
(Judas and John exchanged a meaning
look while Y’shua smiled in the shade.)
The groom, no wiser, wandered back to the wedding house
and closer to the object of his anticipation.
The steward set his sails and hurried off,
driving the servants before him.
There was a moment of absolute silence
before Y’shua left the shadow and approached the jars.
He leaned in on tiptoe,
peering into the ruby surface of first one then another,
chuckling softly to himself.
Looking slyly to one side then the other,
he dipped his finger into the center jar
and lifted it slowly to his mouth.
(John and Judas in the doorway heard the tongue cluck
of satisfaction and Y’shua’s long sigh
before he turned to face them.)
The boyish grin was now a full-fruited smile.
Judas stepped boldly forward.
“Surely, Master, you did not doubt?”
Y’shua closed his eyes,
pressed the smile until it spread across his face,
and shook his head.
He laid his arm across John’s shoulders,
gave him a quick wink and turned to Judas.
“Tell me friend, is it doubt, then, to want
to taste the miracle for yourself?”
And he went on in, drawing John with him,
back to the song and laughter of the wedding house.
John would not forget.
Neither would Judas.