Historical setting: A dark age in Gaul
At this waking I hear the sounds of the oars and the groaning in effort against wind driven current. I can feel the pulse of the river rills moving under my shoulders, as I lay here on the boards of hull, spine to spine with ship. Fresh bandages cover my eyes so at least there is cause for the incessant darkness.
A cold dampness is rising inside this ship’s hull as if it were the tide breaching onto dry beach. Two rowers are summoned from the stern-most bench to man the bilges and those left at the oars are heaving and drawing at peak tempo with the plan to reach Nantes before the leaking hull drowns us all.
I hear the officer and his assistant deciding what to do with me as I am in such a useless state. “Sir, I’ve heard that at the next bend in the river, where the shelf of rock juts out near a vineyard is the place where the gardens of remedies grow. We could just leave him there in the care of the pagan hag.”
“But he may be a loyal Christian, and besides we need to move quickly to the shipyard or we will all be floundering in the river.”
“And of course, Sir, he may also be fair at the oars when he has healed a bit.”
“Good man. You share my thoughts. If we could add a loyal rower to our numbers as we rejoin our fleet the centurion will surely be impressed. In these times, adding one, even a bandaged one, would seem a hopeful sign of renewal. I say we decide what to do with him later. By the time the ship is repaired we will surely know of his possibility.”
I have no recollection at all of ever having been in a warrior’s galley. My pounding head offers no glimpses of any goodness from this. I know Jesus is my friend and he will never find me here if I’m all armored and aligned in Roman battalions. But I do remember who I am. I know who I am; thank you God, for this clarity.
“You are awake now, Friend?”
One is speaking to me. I answer, “I can hear you.”
“We believe you were robbed and beaten. Do you remember what happened?”
“I don’t remember, but I do know who I am.”
“And who are you?”
“I am Lazarus, friend of Jesus.”
“Let’s give him more time. He may have lost his mind but surely he’s a Christian.”