and he receives favor from the LORD. Proverbs 18:22
From Adara's Story - “Forgive me, Master.” Simon threw himself at Jesus’ feet, weeping.
“It is not I from whom you must seek forgiveness, Simon, but from your sister.”
Simon looked at Jesus and then looked at Adara and saw for the first time, not a foolish, witless brother, but a sister; a beautiful child. She looked at him, and without a word spoken between the two, peace was formed as forgiveness passed between them. Simon embraced his sister for the first time as he bade farewell to his brother; not the person, but the idea he had kept so hard and fast in his judgment. Jesus smiled and spoke softly,
“Rise, Simon.” The man stood and smiled through his tears.
“I will get wine that we may celebrate this homecoming, Master. Thank you for opening my eyes.”
Jesus grabbed the girl by both hands and lifted her to her feet, kissing her on each side of her face. The tears of a prophet and teacher mingled with the tears of a beautiful child, filled with love and gratefulness. She smiled weakly and said,
“MmmmMaster.” Her voice was halting and she searched for words.
“How did you know…how…dddi…you know…mmmmy name?” she stammered.
Jesus looked into her eyes and smiled.
“Adara…it is I who named you.”
A Day of Disappointment
“There are days when you are almost useless,” Simon glared at his sister, as if her slowness was her fault. She put her head down, vowing to be silent. Even after a homecoming of sorts, the girl remained a stranger in her own house, since everyone believed how worthless girls are to begin with, much less a boy dressed in girl’s clothing. That the teacher had explained to Simon about his sister meant little; especially now, even if no one but her brother knew.
“I don’t know why I allowed the Rabbi to fill my head with such foolishness, but I gave my word that I would allow you to do what you choose to do.”
Simon had given his word, to be sure, but it wasn’t to allow anything at all. With the Rabbi’s help, he had been able to see that he now had a sister. Where once stood a slow-witted boy now stood a shy if eager-to-please young lady. But the Rabbi had departed, and they hadn’t seen or heard anything of him other than what Aaron the potter had said only a few months ago; something about loud and angry crowds walking through the city shouting his name. Other than that, they had heard nothing. Moving from the village of their parents ensured that Simon could keep his promise and his business, since only he and Adara knew about her origin.
“Suh...Simon? I finished cleaning. Mmmm...May I go pick some flowers?” The girl was shy, to be sure, but much of her timidity came from having to prove herself over and over every day. It mattered not that she was as kind as anyone could imagine. It mattered not that she toiled daily doing not only the ‘woman’s’ work in the house, but also anything that came to Simon’s mind that his ‘brother’ might perform. She spoke quietly, as modest as you might expect from a young lady her age, and without a single complaint.
“Fine, but be back here quickly to prepare the midday meal!” She had baked some bread and it would take little time to finish, but Simon was almost more demanding now than before the revelation that set the family on edge. Without the Rabbi to speak to her brother, anything he had said was left without any encouragement.
“Yeh...yes, Simon,” she said and walked out of the house and up the hill. It took all the strength she had to face each day with the resolve that things would indeed turn out as the rabbi had promised. But Simon made her days feel as useless as he claimed and her nights as hopeless as the prospect of standing in two worlds but belonging to neither.
“Simon ben Nathan. I’m very glad to find you here, since I’ve got a question for you. A very important question” The man was taller than Simon and would have seemed more than him important but for their friendship.
“Benyamin! Funny you should show up here. I’ve been meaning to talk to you as well. That business arrangement we discussed.
“Oh, that’s not what I’m here for, but since we’re discussing business? I’m not very good at it, as you’d discover if you talked to my father.” He laughed a gentle laugh; a man who had virtually nothing but his good heart to show for his twenty years. He was, however, as good a worker as anyone would ever want, even if his right foot turned severely inward. That he worked hard and sought to be useful when many like him would likely be cast aside; it was a testament to the grace of the almighty, even if most felt otherwise.
“I will work for you, but only on one condition.” He smiled broadly and Simon tilted his head.
“You should agree to the wages we discussed, but what else could you want? I’m an easy man to work for,” Simon said, which flew in the face of what everyone in the village knew. Anyone who worked for Simon would be put to task more than any other merchant. He treated his ….he treated Adara like a hired hand; how much worse would it be for anyone who wasn’t a favorite sibling.
“I’m not asking for the moon, Simon. I know the wages are more than fair. I wish to request something that only you can grant, though it has nothing to do with your business.
“Ask away, friend!”
“If it be acceptable and the will of the Almighty, I would like to discuss a merger of sorts.” Benny laughed softly once again; not a joke but just a way of lightening what might be a very serious moment.
“You have no business, Benny. What could you possible bring to me that would interest me?”
“it’s not me that will bring something of value, but you, Simon. I wish to propose a merger between our families.” Simon’s eyes widened in surprise. Benny’s sister Devorah was likely the prettiest girl in the village, but she was promised to Natan Ben Yakub.
“No, dear friend. You are the one to provide the means of the merger should it be acceptable to you. I wish to wed your sister Adara.” Simon put his hand up nervously.
“NN….no, Benny…. I …. She’s hardly of age….” His face reddened and he shook his head; not furiously, but enough to send a very plain message. One that Benny completely misunderstood given the circumstances.
“I….I understand.” He put his head down and sighed. There’s nothing like love at first sight, and nothing worse than being told it will never be.
“I’m…I’m sorry, Benny. She’s just not ready for marriage.” Simon was insistent, and rightly so, since Adara would hardly be ready for marriage in their lifetimes. But Benny believed it was he who fell short. In truth, in the eyes on the almighty, in a way we all fall short, and so they both were merely human and children of their generation. But where the Lord closes a door, as they say, he opens a window. This window would shine a light on the two. A man born lame but still a good man; a just and kind and caring man. And a girl born out of time, as it says somewhere, but born at just the right time when reckoned if measured by the hand of G_d.
“I’m truly sorry,’ Simon lied. He wasn’t sorry at all. The last thing he needed was for Benny to discover just who and what Adara truly was. If that happened, Simon would lose an eager employee who was willing to do everything without any question and cheaper than anyone for miles around. He put his hand on Benny’s shoulder in sympathy when in fact he was relieved…until Adara walked into the house.
“G...good afternoon,” she said with her eyes quickly cast downward. She needn’t have been so subservient since not all men were like her brother. Had she raised her countenance she would have seen the sparkle in Benyamin’s eyes; deep olive and smiling, as the saying goes. Eyes that accepted the girl without question. Eyes that longed for the embrace she would offer had she known.
And eyes that were well aware of the beginnings of the girl; keen, sensitive, and caring eyes that knew from whence the girl had come. It mattered not to him, but it mattered even less to his best friend; the brother of the girl he had come to love from afar and from the past, since he had lived in the same village where the girl’s parents lived years before. The same parents who had two childen; Simon the elder, smart and resourceful. And Mahlon the younger, slow-witted child. Adara would have seen the look that she had seen once before, when the Rabbi had blessed her.
“You best be getting along, Benny.” Simon said, and his friend nodded reluctantly. Benyamin bowed slightly to the girl, who had yet to raise her head. He sighed and limped slowly out of the house and down the hill. Only then did the girl raise her head; only in time to see his figure disappear behind a bend in the path, but still in time to see the sun almost glint off of his nearly unkempt dark head of hair. It reflected into almost a halo before he disappeared from view. She sighed deeply and hugged herself tight; believing understandably that hers were the only arms that would ever hold her….
Next: An Afternoon of Heartache
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