Happy Easter! Here is a story I wrote after imagining Jesus as a Minstrel. I share it with YOU!
The Minstrel arrived unannounced into the valley with the first warm breeze of spring. Carrying his fiddle and his battered old leather bag strapped over his shoulder resting on his hip, he made his way to the sandy shoreline of the river to set up a respite camp. Quietly, he lifted his bag over his head and laid it against a log and went off to gather some firewood.
It had been a while since he had eaten anything. His hunger made him cold. It bit into his loneliness which fortunately he rarely felt. But when it did slip under his skin, it wandered aimlessly until it found the dark ring in his soul. In moments like these, he longed for a warm place to call his own. But he knew himself well enough that his feet were made for wandering and his place he called his own were the wide open spaces. The ability to bring joy to others on his journey with his music kept the loneliness at bay most of the time.
In no time, a small cooking fire was established and his pot filled with soup given to him by a farmer's wife from the village up river was warming up. He took his other pot and scooped some river water to boil for tea. As he waited, he picked up his fiddle and began to play the quiet tune he savoured as a tribute to his true love. He never shared this one with anyone else. It was his prayer, his meditation he held close to his heart.
Soon the soup was hot and ready to eat and he set his fiddle off to the side. As he was digging in his leather bag in search of his spoon, two young boys, just on the cusp of manhood, had made their way down the path to the shoreline carrying offerings for the stranger. One was carrying homemade bread and the other was carrying more firewood. Like everyone in the village, they had watched the man set up his camp with keen suspicion. No one new had been through the village since the summer before.....the intrigue stirred their curiosity and piqued their interest. It was decided that they would represent the villagers, to welcome the stranger but also to find out who he was. The minstrel looked up at the two young men and smiled.
"Greetings to you," he said as he looked directly at them.
"Welcome to our village," the young brothers expressed.Have you travelled far?"
"I have travelled far and wide in my life, but today only from the next village. What are your names," the Minstrel asked.
"I'm Simon and this is my brother Andrew. We have brought you some bread to go with your soup and some more firewood."
"Thank you. My name is Joshua, and after I've finished my meal, I will play you a song if you'd like."
They nodded and smiled and sat down on the log beside the Minstrel, and began asking him many questions about his travels. It was such a different life, so foreign to them but it stirred a secret lust for adventure neither had ever shared with each other. As the fresh bread and soup restored his energy and the sweet tea warmed him up, the Minstrel became more animated and more descriptive.
Simon and Andrew were pulled right into the grand stories as they fed the fire with more and more sticks until it was blazing and snapping sparks high up into the sky. It was a spectacular blaze which threw off heat and seemed to melt away the inhibitions of winter's damp thaw. Pretty soon, their own closely held stories and yearnings were shared with their new friend and Joshua was intrigued to by their engaging ability to express themselves. He could feel Simon and Andrew's desire to learn the life of a wanderer and wondered if he had finally found the two he could mentor. It was a fleeting thought as he listened to their youthful exuberance and knew they were too young yet to take to the road to learn life as it unfolds. Maybe one day.... It was nice to feel a sense of brotherhood with his two new acquaintances and it left him feeling hopeful that perhaps his own stories would be passed on after he was unable to do so.
As twilight beckoned, the Minstrel grabbed his fiddle, stood up beside the bonfire and began to play lively tunes that swirled in the engaging smoke, captured and broadcasted beyond the shoreline. He could feel himself move into a place where the music poured out of him like he was the vessel passing on ancient hymns. They came from some place holy and whole, and he loved visiting there. Pretty soon, the villagers, who had been watching the scene unfold had grabbed their coats and headed down to the shoreline to join the three in an impromptu celebration of all things good.
It was the tonic they yearned for in the dead of winter when fatigue made their arms too heavy to wipe away those burdensome blues. Smiles all around as the music began to touch their cloaked spirits. For a moment in time, the sacred truth of their unmet dreams was replaced with a fullness of time, brushed by a tenderness only felt in the gathering of ancestry. Eternity seemed possible to hold in the palm of your hand.
Simon and Andrew remained captivated by this man named Joshua whose magical gifts enlightened the villagers by resurrecting their light heartedness again. Secretly they longed to sneak off and join him but they knew the timing wasn't quite right. Maybe, they thought....maybe one day he will become their teacher. But, it wasn't the time to be contemplating beyond the grand sense of life affirmed happening in a circle around the fire. The Minstrel played on....sometimes he stopped and told a story about love and forgiveness.....sometimes he changed the tempo and played a lament that seemed soaked in the rain of tears usually lost in the faraway eyes of longing. And then before the mood altered permanently, Joshua would strike his bow with a high step piece and everyone would return to comraderie and lightness. The brothers felt a sense of freedom in their spirits like they had never felt before....it was a revelation to them.
Night grew darker.......and the folks in the village began to leave one by one until the Minstrel, Simon and Andrew were the only ones left. Up the hill from the shoreline, the windows in the homes began to light up with the soft glow of lanterns. Woodsmoke curled up from the chimneys. It looked so beautiful and it warmed Joshua's heart to know that everyone in the village were safely inside and on their way to possibly finding a more restful sleep than before. He too was tired. It had been a long day and he needed to seek refuge in his own slumber. One of the villagers offered a place by their woodstove and he planned to take them up on it after he packed up his bag and fiddle and doused the fire.
Simon and Andrew had stayed behind to ask the Minstrel if they could go with him the next day....if they could learn how to be minstrels......but before they could find the words, Joshua looked up at them and smiled.
"One day," he said. "One day, I will come for you............when the time is right. I will teach you my stories, and help you with the hymns....I will offer you my knowledge and give you my blessing to carry you forward on my behalf. When the time is right. For now, help your village to continue to show love .....to be there for one another. Learn from your elders, and be kind to each other."
Joshua continued, "You are more lucky than you know to have a brother to cherish and to share your dreams with. I hope you will always remain the best of friends. So, for now....I wish you a fond goodnight. I promise I will come for you when time is ready."
With that, the Minstrel walked up the path to the house on the hill where he would rest for the night. Tomorrow, a new village.......and a chance to bring peace and love through his stories and his music. It is what he does....it is why he is who he is.....a holy troubadour named Joshua.