‘Unseasonable Journey’, by Susan Jones

I remember it as if it was yesterday
the day he set his face
and turned towards Jerusalem.

We all knew that look,
all of us women
who followed him
Mary, Joanna,
Susanna and the rest,
we knew, all of us,
once that look was in his eyes
and his jaw set in that determined way
nothing any of us could say would change his mind.

An autumn chill
whispered its way
around my heart
the long, lovely summer
of camaraderie and companionship
was over

for I knew
we all knew
(especially him, although he never said)
death
lay at the end of this unseasonable journey.

Looking back now,
I remember the slow,
inevitable
irrevocable
feel of that time

his words falling on our ears
as leaves fall
one by one
from trees
weeping away their life
in golden tears

(afterwards, we looked back,
surprised at the depth
of golden leaves
which had gathered at our feet)

the first few leaves
fluttered gently to the ground
as he told the men to let the children be.
‘the kingdom belongs to such as these,’ he said.
We women knew what he meant
we know children
the gut honesty
that hasn’t been veneered with social graces yet.
We knew what he meant.

And it seemed a single golden leaf
gently touched my hair
as I heard him say
‘Mary has chosen the better part
it shall not be taken from her’

and it hasn’t.

A few more leaves fell
when he wept over the city

the stormy tension was all through Jerusalem
like one of those autumn storms
that pulls leaves from the trees in jealous fury

but once,
there was a lull,
when, through the heavy scent of ointment
above the women’s tears he said to the stony faces
about him
‘she has done this for my burial’
and a shower of golden leaves
joined the others on the ground.

But autumn ends
with gaunt skeletons
against a wintry sky
and so his end came
on a gaunt tree
starkly black
amidst a darkened day
and the chill of winter
settled on my soul
the pile of leaves
about my feet
lost their glow
as the promises lost their power.

The cold went deep within me,
and even when love had burst forth
out of season
life in the middle of death
warmth in the heart of winter,
and the leaves at my feet
had regained their golden glow
(for now I knew the promises were true)
the memory of that desolation remained

Reminding me God does not wait for spring
but offers life in winter
for love knows no season

– Susan Jones, What was it like?: Bible Reflections (Melbourne: Joint Board of Christian Education, 1993).

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