This continuing story is told in the voice of Lazarus. He is, like all living beings, endowed with an amazing power of healing. But the super-power of this “what-if” is simply that the extreme healing gift bequeathed him by his friend Jesus allows him to heal even from death into life. This gift makes him a physical “sign” or metaphor for the spiritual nature of resurrection. So he arrives in this writing as a literary device, a persistently thirty-three-year-old time traveler into various epochs of Christian History.
These stories are a meander through early medieval times through the eyes of one whose many heresies include befriending Jesus as a human friend and teacher. Lazarus is driven by his mission to encourage Jesus followers in the teachings; so he is a scribe of gospels and carries the variety of writings as a messenger to hidden churches or Christian gatherings throughout the known (at that time) world. Along his journeys he finds friendships and belongs with families of his own so this is not just a story about one person. It has lots of characters. May they be written for your eyes with a simple clarity.
Catching up on Characters and Plot
2020 March ends with the whole world in a strangely new crisis of pandemic. Writing history as I do, months ahead of blogging, the March chapter of Lazarus-Ink was an exploration of old saints and relics as people of another time sought their healings among objects believed to be bestowed with magical powers. Here in real time we place our hopes more solidly in science. We hoard toilet paper and lust after hand sanitizer. We send our young heroes sparsely protected, barely armed, into the battle against an invisible enemy who can show up on a whim and ravage a whole modern city and pillage a nation.
As with other turning points in history we are each called to assess our true priorities and values. But here is a hint from ancient history. Dianna Butler Bass, [A People’s History of Christianity, Harper One, 2009. p. 58] and other church historians as well, remind us of the love ethic at the core of Jesus’ teaching. In the 2nd century C.E. a terrible plague, the Galen Plague, swept through the lands. The people who went into the streets to help the sick and the dying had already committed all of their wealth to help the poor. They were those who valued love of neighbor, beyond, even their own lives.
The essence of Christian “Holy Week” is human compassion so the April chapter “Dark River” begins with an echo of the parable Jesus told in answer to the question, “Who is my neighbor?”
When the March chapter ended, Lazarus was walking from Tours back to his son’s vineyard to help his family with the spring chores. He was attacked on the road, and left for dead. So begins this new chapter.