It was only to be one day's journey back to our home. There were ten of us traveling together; my parents, a couple of my aunts and uncles and their children of various ages - some younger and some older than myself. My mother chatted away joyfully with her sisters as they bounced along the path. The men chatted but their voices were more measured in tone, so I assumed that they were speaking about more serious topics. Every now and again the adults would have to break their conversations to stop the younger children from venturing off the path to pursue a small animal, rock or plant that had captured their interest.
The terrain was flat and the road was well-worn and easy to follow but it was no match for the sickness hit me suddenly, attacking my insides. I felt the urge to vomit but when my body convulsed involuntarily nothing came up. The sun seemed to scorch and burn me. My insides and outsides felt excruciatingly hot. I lost my sense of balance, my body felt heavy, and my legs gave way. I collapsed onto the rocky path along which we were traveling.
My parents and extended family crowded around me. They were shouting, panicked. I remember my father crouching in front of me. His stern and academic countenance persisted but his brow was furrowed and his forehead was covered in sweat. His face was red and distressed.
"My little daughter are you okay?" he yelled as he reached out for my hand.
I could not respond. Before his hand met mine, all went dark. The next thing I knew was that I was lying in my own bed at home.
I remember moments of consciousness alternating with vivid dreams while I laid there. During some of the periods of consciousness I felt well enough to daydream about pleasant things. I recalled the wedding that my family had just attended. For most of the celebration I had sat on the edges and observed. I absorbed the vibrancy of the robes worn by the ladies and the excitement among the peers of the bride as they chatted, ate, and then later danced. I had begun to think about what my own future wedding and life would look like. I vaguely pondered the idea of a future husband, and I thought also about what being a married woman would mean for the other parts of my life. I wondered if it would be very different to my life at that time which mainly consisted of assisting my mother run the household with practical tasks, managing our small staff and attending to those in need in our community by running small errands or paying social visits. I thought about the adventuresome side of things - would I have to move far from my family? Would I meet new people? Oh, and what would it be like to be pregnant and to have my own children? These thoughts both excited me but scared and saddened me a little at the same time.
As I bobbed in and out of consciousness and various levels of sickness, my thoughts and dreams could become less pleasant. Sometimes future potential suitors morphed into snakes and other beasts and the incandescent dresses of the lady wedding guests became stained and worn. More and more these darker thoughts and dreams became predominant as my body succumbed to its affliction.
It became harder to eat and drink.
I can only vaguely recall some visits from physicians calling to treat me after that time. They prodded me to wake me and examined me with strange instruments.
My periods of consciousness became less regular. The last time I recall waking, before I experienced my spirit separating from my body, was to my mother, wiping my brow with a damp cloth. Short in stature and unassuming in her manner and dress, her natural bounciness and joy was gone. She was uncontrollably weeping but I did not have the energy to move or comfort her.
I felt myself rise up above my body and I sort of hovered over it looking down. I could hear sound but the way I heard it was muffled and muted as if I was suspended in water. The air around me, if I could call it that, also felt and looked different. It also felt like water to me but less thick, like a thin liquid film. Colours were also different. Brighter colours were brighter but dark colours were duller. I felt sensations homogenously throughout my spirit rather than how I experienced them in my body. It was a relief that I could not feel things in some respects as I could no longer feel the intense heaviness of my body riddled with illness. But I also did not feel at home feeling things in this way.
Time also felt different. I knew that time was passing as I could see my parents were coming in and out of the room to visit me. However, it was as if I did not have the same awareness of how fast or how slow time was movingI could see auras or energy fields around the people and living things. My mother's was a dull greyish colour. Her shoulders were hunched and she moved slowly, exhausted. Similarly, my father's aura was weak and also grey. His frame looked thinner and his hair and beard looked increasingly disheveled. There were some indoor plants on the floor near the window. They emitted a green light which became more tired from my parents’ neglect as they suffered under the burden of my illness.
Despite being present in some form I was completely alone, unable to communicate or interact with the world. I had heard of others who had experienced something similar, but they had felt the pull toward another dimension. Some had been drawn toward a light. There was no pull and no light.
I started to panic and an intense loneliness engulfed me.
Was I still dreaming? Or had I died? I did not want to die. I did not want to be separated from my parents. I wanted to experience all the things the wedding had foreshadowed for my future. My body looked limp, grey and lifeless beneath me. Was I stuck? This was not heaven or hell. I was still on Earth but no longer in my body. I tried to move but found I could not.
'What if this is my eternity?' I thought.
I did the only thing I could think of that there was left to do. I prayed.
'Please, Father in heaven, let me leave this place'.
I did not care at that point if I was to leave by moving on to the afterlife or by returning to my body. I just did not want to remain in this state of limbo.
For a long time, I felt like nothing was happening and my prayers were being both unheard and unanswered. I alternated between feelings of despair, hope and apathy. At times I felt completely blank as my mind had exhausted itself.
But then there was a change.
I do not know how long passed until I felt a jolt of energy permeate through me and a blinding light flood the room. The energy was so strong that I was flung to one of the corners of the room. The light was so bright that my reflex was to shut my eyes, but as I was not in my body I could not do so. It was as if the walls and furniture were almost pulsating with the energy from this new brightness. I also could hear an intense buzzing that sounded like hundreds of swarms of bees.
I was filled with heat and I noticed that the source of the light was in fact a person, a man. He was with five other men whose auras had no comparison to the luminousness one of this man. My father and mother had also entered the room with him. Their auras were still faint. The luminous man walked over to my body and the heat became stronger. It was a very pleasant heat. It felt like a tangible form of love. He stood directly next to my body and I watched him take my hand.
I felt myself being pulled downwards towards my body and then I felt the familiar sensations of being within it. I felt the heaviness and clamminess from its sickness once again. I felt my chest labouring to move up and down to breath. It was full of congestion. I could not see anything anymore. I then realised my eyes were closed and I had been reunited with my body. I opened them and saw the man looking directly at me. I could not hear the buzzing anymore and the man no longer was accompanied by a blinding light. However, his hand was still on mine and I could now feel it. It was warm and strong.
He looked into my eyes intently and smiled. Like how the eye colour of a baby changes before it settles, his eyes were changing colour as the energy transferred from him to me.. I could feel my body becoming lighter and more well. Then the man's eyes stopped changing and settled as a dark brown. I knew the energy transfer was complete.
I felt like my whole body was reverberating with energy. It was not an adrenaline or jittery energy but a holistic healthy flutter. I felt I could run for miles and miles and not fatigue. I also felt full of deep excitement, contentment and joy and love wanting to burst out from within me.
'Talitha get up' he said in a calming but confident tone.
The healing man pulled my arm to help me sit up. He then broke my gaze to gesture to where he wanted me to look; at my parents. My father's dark beard contrasted with his pale face. My mother had her arms around his waist, and it looked as though she was almost supporting all his weight so he did not fall over due to shock. The man who had healed me beckoned my parents to come closer. With my mother's support my father managed to move over to the bed. I stood up and moved swiftly towards them. I reached out to hug my father and my mother together. My father gulped for air then started shaking. Tears began to flow down his face and for a few minutes he uncontrollably wept. My mother, who I was used to being the more emotional one, in this moment seemed comparatively serene. It was as if it was easier for her to process that I had been healed. A few tears ran down her cheeks as she smiled at me with a deep joy. She rubbed my father's back to help calm him and his weeping slowed.
My father then released me and ran to my healer, knelt down and kissed his feet.
"Thank you, thank you!" he choked.
That evening my mother and father arranged a lavish feast to thank my healer who, as theylater told me, was known as Jesus. My father stayed up with the man and his followers until late into the night discussing scripture. My mother told me that I had been sick for over a month and had not woken for at least a week. My father and mother had heard that Jesus, who was known to have healed a great many people from grave illnesses, was in the area. So my father had rushed to find him and so he had come to heal me.
My father, mother and I walked to the outskirts of the city where they had heard Jesus would arrive. My parents had both been significantly changed by my healing. My father's eyes always revealed that he was incredibly intelligent and also wise. But now they also revealed something else - a deep joy and excitement. The changes in my mother were less obvious. She had always been a joyful, deep feeling woman but now there was something about her air that was more relaxed which allowed this deep joy to flow more freely from within her.We waited with many others who shared a similar excitement. The crowd was diverse. Some were very glamorously dressed. Their skin revealed they had been privileged in life - not having to engage in hard labour. Others had skin and teeth that revealed they had been through many struggles during their life. Despite this diversity there was lots of hugging (even among strangers), rejoicing and singing as we waited. Those waiting shared food they had prepared for snacking on and drinks from wineskins and clay cups. Some had brought coloured material to waive to celebrate the entrance into Jerusalem of the messiah. My father, mother and I had gathered some palms from trees outside our accommodation as had others.
I saw down the bottom of the rocky hill where my parents, the crowd, and I were gathered a figure in the distance. He was riding on a donkey. My belly warmed with excitement. As he came closer the crowd became louder, singing and chanting. I could see it was the same man, Jesus, who had healed me. I felt a rush of blood through my veins and my face flushed. This sensation made me feel as if we were all deeply connected and as I looked around at those in the crowd, I could see they felt the same. Jesus rode through the crowd. I could see that although he appeared joyful his shoulders appeared to be carrying an invisible weight. As he passed he looked directly at me and smiled. He remembered me. I felt flattered that he knew who I was. His eyes were magnetic, just as they had been when he healed me. As I returned his smile and looked back at him, I could see a little sorrow behind his kind eyes. I wondered at why he would be holding this sadness and weight as he was entering the city of Jerusalem.
I did not know then that what was about to occur over the next few days and months would mean an even greater change would take hold in my family, myself and those around us. But it meant my future was to be one more adventuresome and wilder than I ever could have imagined during that time when I was ill, dreaming in my bed.