I FINALLY got to write this after two attempts that led to different stories, and when I started, it flowed with absolute ease. I’m so incredibly happy with the way this turned out; I think I wrote it in about an hour, so it goes to show how pressing it was in my mind. xD Anyway, hope you enjoy it!
Everything went quiet. It wasn’t instant, nor was it a sudden thing; it started slowly, with the loud complaints evening out to grumbling and moaning before turning into soft murmurs which dissipated and died out, until all around the hill there was nothing but the whispering of the wind and the rustling of grass beneath us. In the distance, a figure – a mere silhouette against the backdrop of the darkening sky – raised his hands to the heavens, but what he was doing, we didn’t quite know. We heard the words loud and clear, carrying on the wind, and the reason for the silence became clear then; he was praying.
We had traveled far and wide to hear this man speak – this Jesus of Nazareth – and when the word spread that he wanted us to sit in groups, we had done so rather apprehensively. Many of us were starving, since we had been there to listen to him speak since morning, and we were waiting to go back home so that we could eat. I knew, at the very least, this was my desire – as well as that of my wife – and if the murmurs had been anything to go by, I wasn’t alone. And yet, our need of food was outweighed by the longing to hear this great man speak. He professed to be the son of God, something not many of us were certain about, and yet, the tales spoke of miracles and things that had to be a sign – but if it were from devil, man, or God, I couldn’t have been sure.
That was one of the reasons I was here, to figure out for myself what was so great about this Jesus person. So many stories, certainly not all of them were true? Could he have really done all that the tales claimed? Even his style of praying was different, speaking to God so easily, like they were related. I supposed if his claims were accurate, then this was true. I had been one of the last to arrive, and I was so far back I hadn’t been sure if we could hear him, but he had positioned himself at the top of the hill and so his voice carried, even if everyone else was talking.
Food… Disciples are… Bread and fish… So far back… Thousands of people… Be enough?
The murmuring started back up, and I caught snippets of conversation from all around. Apparently, Jesus was planning on feeding us – all of us – with bread and fish. Now, I wasn’t the best out there, but I did know how to estimate numbers (as a shepherd, it was something I had picked up quickly if I were to keep a check on all my livestock), and by what I saw, there were well over five thousand of us.
Jesus was the son of a carpenter, and his disciples weren’t exactly well off, either – fishermen, from what I’ve heard – so how on earth were they going to pull this off? I tried to perform some calculations in my brain, but the numbers got too high, and without anything to aid me, I gave up after a few minutes, but I had all the information I needed. “Even if we were to have only one bite of bread each, it would cost more than everything we make in a year combined!” I exclaimed to my wife.
“That much?!” commented the man next to me, having overheard. I recognised him, but couldn’t place his name; I had met too many people that day to accurately remember the names of everyone around.
I nodded. “That’s not to mention enough to fill us,” I said. “Nor the fish, unless they’ve been fishing the whole day.”
“Get this,” cut in someone else, scooting closer towards us. This man, I did not know at all. “I heard that there’s only five loaves and two fish! Some small boy brought it to Jesus.”
The first man let out a huff. “Why, that’s barely enough for three people!”
“Well, there seems to be enough for the front few,” the stranger commented. “They’re all eating.”
“Will there be enough for us?” my wife piped up, and I turned to see the worry written on her face. She was with child, not far along, but enough for it to just be showing. She, of all people, needed to eat, and I didn’t mind going hungry so long as she got food.
I shrugged. Honestly, I wasn’t sure. If what we heard about Jesus was true, there would be; he would somehow make the measly amount enough for all those present. But was I about to take that chance? It was a gamble, and around me, I saw reflected on many faces of people the same doubt I was feeling as they stood up and walked away. My mind told me to join them, to leave while I still had light by which to go, and before shops closed for the day. At the very least, I could pick up something for my wife before we retired for the night.
But, at the very center of my being, a tiny whisper held fast, telling me to wait and to trust, and that we were going to be okay. I glanced up, towards the top of the hill, and a shiver ran up my spine as the figure turned towards me. I couldn’t make out any details, but it seemed as though he was staring right at me. “We stay,” I said – the words escaping before I even knew they were a possibility – and averted my gaze. For some reason, my breath caught, my heart was pounding, and my fingers were tingling, something I only really experienced when I chase away wild animals from my sheep. Why had this encounter with Jesus – even from such a distance away – leave me like this?
Seconds turned into minutes as I sat in silence, ignoring the people around me, as I focused on trying to regain my breathing. As time passed, things changed. Something was different, I could tell. The atmosphere became more excited, like a buzz in the air so tangible I felt like I could almost touch it, whatever it was. Then, from somewhere in front of me, a chunk of bread was tossed back. I reached out and snagged it as more came our way, some flying through the air and other handed nicely. I passed mine to my wife and waited for her to start eating before I took a piece for myself.
It wasn’t large, and I had to have quite a handful before I was satisfied, but they kept coming. Soon enough, they were joined by the fish, and we sat in silence as we picked out the bones and ate the flesh, sweeter than any I had ever eaten before and fresher than I would have imagined, for it having apparently been out here all day. We ate and we ate and we ate, filling our bellies with the simple food, until we had our fill. Still, the silence continued, as though we were too full to talk, but I had a feeling that it was more than that; it was apprehension, the uncertainty of what had just happened.
Sometime later, large baskets were carried up and down, collecting any and all waste and leftovers. We started packing up moments later, when it became clear that Jesus wasn’t going to be sharing anything else, although a few still lingered, hopeful looks on their faces. My wife was getting tired, though, so I picked up our blankets and started folding them, when another murmur went through the crowd, reaching us last.
Leftovers… Collected… Twelve baskets… Impossible… Only five loaves… Two fish… How?
And that was the question that nobody had an answer for, and yet everyone was asking – how? How had there been enough to feed everyone? I wished I had been near the front, one of the lucky few who witnessed exactly what had happened. Did it suddenly multiply? Did the loaves split themselves, and fish divide into two, until there was enough for everyone? Or did it simply just not run out no matter how much one took? I didn’t have answers for those questions; in fact, I wasn’t even sure if what they said was accurate, but I knew one thing for sure: what happened today was special, different. And, as my wife and I headed home, full on the bread and fish that seemingly come out of nowhere, we began to believe that this Jesus person was indeed all he said he was. Because, honestly, who else but the son of God could have done this?