Updated: Apr 21, 2020
She strode awkwardly back from the lakeshore, a basket of wet laundry on one hip, her infant son on the other. Despite her aching back from scrubbing the week's clothes and linens, she felt refreshed from talking with the other women. Who else could understand her daily struggles better than the women who lived her reality day in and day out?
“Come along, Samuel,” she called to her three-year-old, half-turning to make sure he was still following. He had a rock clutched in each chubby fist, treasures from his time at the shore. Alizah smiled. More for the growing collection.
She turned sideways to fit through the doorway to their home and crossed through to the enclosed courtyard. The dirt already smelled hot from the morning sun. Setting the baby in a shady corner, she began to shake out the clothes as she hung them on the line to dry. Samuel added his rocks to his pile to free his hands to feed fistfuls of hay to the goat.
Alizah ran through her mental list. She had already fetched the day's water for the house and garden. She had milked the goat. She had fed Samuel his bread and date honey while she taught him from memory about the scriptures. After hanging the laundry, she needed to grind the barley for tomorrow's bread. The shepherd boy should be here soon to take the goat to pasture for the day. Then there was the dusting and sweeping. She needed to get a few more rows done on her weaving or her husband's new robe would never be finished. Then there was lunch for herself and the boys, including her oldest son who was at school until then. She planned to make a lentil stew for supper, and there was the fish she cooked last night to add to the meal. Elisha was always famished when he returned he returned from a day's hard work.
She hung the last cloth on the line and stood up to knuckle her back. All this had to be done while making sure Samuel didn't get into trouble, plus having to stop to nurse little Avi every couple of hours, and pausing everything to put the boys down to nap.
She was vigorously grinding the grain when she heard a voice calling from outside the house, “Mama! Mama!”
She looked up as her oldest boy, Alexander, ran into the house. He was nine years old and missing his top four front teeth.
“Alex, what are you doing home from school so early?” she said, sitting back on her heels.
“I forgot to tell you!” he panted with his eyes aglow. “Rabbi is taking us all out to see the prophet today! He is up on the mountain, and thousands and thousands are going to see him.”
“You should tell me these things as soon as you hear about them,” Alizah sighed. “You need me to pack a lunch then?”
Alexander nodded as Alizah rose to her feet and went to the shelves. The boy would be tired from his long walk, and may not be back until after supper, so she packed him five barley loaves and two fish. She rolled it up in a cloth and handed him the bundle with a kiss on his forehead. “Listen well to your rabbi, and the prophet.”
“Yes, Mama!” he grinned and dashed out the door. She stepped outside and lifted a hand to shield her gaze from the sunshine as he scampered to join his waiting classmates. The boys varied in age, and all of them looked eager for their adventure. Rabbi Mordecai raised his hand to her in greeting, and she waved back.
She felt a tug of disappointment that she couldn't go with Alexander. After being involved in every moment of his life for the first seven years, it was still hard to see him go off to experience new things without her. A lump rose in her throat as she saw other men and women heading down the street to listen to the prophet. She couldn't help feeling left out and left behind. She had heard some of what the prophet taught and had heard of his miracles. She wished she could see him for herself.
“Mama! Avi is eating my rock!” Samuel protested from inside the house and Alizah hurried back inside to rescue the baby from his big brother's sharing.
The sun was already down, Elisha home from work, and the little boys in bed by the time Alexander returned. Alizah was tired from her day's work, but she rose eagerly to greet her son with a hug. His face was gleaming with wonder.
“How was your day?” Alizah asked.
“Amazing,” Alexander breathed.
Elisha laughed and asked his son, “Did you see the prophet?”
“I sure did. And Mama—” Alexander looked up at her with a huge, toothless grin “—you'll never guess what Jesus did with the lunch you made.”
Read this story for yourself in John 6:1-14
Have you ever felt like my fictional character, Alizah? You've got a million and one things to do, children and a home to care for, but you wish you could cram in one more good thing? Maybe you have dreamed of dropping your responsibilities for just one day so that you could be a part of something that the other adults get to enjoy, like sitting through a full church service! :)