This wasn’t how she had imagined it.
She had imagined this day or a day like today. A day of arrival. A procession. Acclaim. He would be welcomed and lauded with loud shouts and honour and then there would be a place for him on high. With gifts like his, a day like this must be on its way. That wasn’t just mother’s pride. Everyone could see that he was destined for great things.
You could hear it when he spoke. His manner was different. Right from when he was a boy, he could look right into you and speak with such directness and wisdom. He could speak to anyone and he never said what they expected or what they wanted to hear but only what he thought. She didn’t know where he got that from. Not from her, most certainly. She had plenty of thoughts, that’s for sure, but she carried them close. She wasn’t going to tackle the powers that be, regardless of her own thinking. That’s no way to live in peace.
But this son of hers was different. He spoke out like a prophet of old. Just like she had imagined he might back when she started imagining him. Back when his beautiful mysterious life began and then all that wondering and worrying and now here he was. A man with a powerful voice for peace. They needed him now in the Temple, of course. That’s where he should be – explaining and advising. Bringing the light that he was so good at finding in the oldest stories into these strange and shadowed days. The high priests should seek him out. They had certainly heard about him. Everyone had. So they should seek him and call him out and bring him up to a place where he might be a force for good, don’t you think? Sure, he wasn’t from the right family and he wasn’t Jerusalem-born, but he had the gifts and that should matter more. For the good of the people.
But now she worried that he was going about it the wrong way. He was spending his time trying to change the people instead of changing the ways of the nation. He was wasting his time on a very small stage. And she worried that the powers that be wouldn’t like it either. What he was doing, what he was saying put power – or the dream of power – in the hands of the people. It was all upside down. And all these people now in the streets were making too much noise – just like a celebration or a festival to rival the Temple festivals. What were they celebrating anyway? The kingdom of God is near. That’s what they claimed. And Jesus, save us! That’s what they were shouting. Revolutionary words. You can’t stir the people up like that and then expect a quiet life.
She wished he could have a quiet life.
Not that she expected to convince him that Nazareth would be best and that it might be time to settle down. She’d tried that before and he’s only turned away. Thought she was trying to silence him, to hide him, maybe. But, of course, it was quite the opposite. She wanted him to be seen. But seen in the right way, not in this loud and dangerous procession. The best thing for him would be to be a wise man – a prophet even – in a small town, and then to be discovered by those who could actually do something about it. Like a promotion, as it were. Brought to the seat of power and given space and power to speak. Not force him way into Jerusalem with the rabble. Not mess around with crowds and donkeys. Of course, he was seeing it all in light of that ancient prophecy about the king’s arrival on the donkey and she was sure that he believed that he was preaching peace. But she wasn’t sure that the Temple authorities would see it that way. The loud crowds didn’t feel like peaceful people. They felt like people on the edge and that felt dangerous.
She imagined the authorities looking down from their high places, watching. She imagined how they might see these crowds, how they might see her son and his dangerous peace. How they might mutter. But she couldn’t imagine what might happen next nor where this crowded road might end. She didn’t want to imagine that far.