They had known each other for years. They had walked and talked, sweated and laughed, fished and faced mobs together – angry mobs ready to throw one or all of them off high places, desperate mobs clambering for miracles, hungry mobs that walked miles into desolate places to have their hearts and bellies filled. They had studied the sacred words together, examining old truth with new eyes. Not his, of course. Those eyes were deep wells.
His eyes knew them. He knew who would run, who would lie and deny, who would betray. And for all they knew, they did not condemn. In the company of cowards and traitors, he set down his honor and washed them.
That night, two men stood out from the rest – two men who had walked with light and yet were blind to the darkness inside. When he told them the plain and pointed truth to come, both looked him in the eye and said, “Surely not I!” And so the truth came crashing down on them in the dark. Two men with different hearts: both pierced with remorse, bitter as the death he died because every waking moment was a memory of those eyes.
One went and built himself a gallows – the only place he could erase the kindness of the eyes that had welcomed him. Better to break his stiff neck in a noose than bend it beneath the gaze of the one who had handed him the bread and said, “Come, take and eat.”
The other went and wept rivers, but they were not deep enough to wash that night away. The torrents that flooded his soul swept him back to the beginning: back to his boat, back to the sea, back to the the place he lived before he had seen those eyes. Could he go back far enough to forget? Or would those eyes find him again? Only at dawn.
In the rising of the light, in the death of night, that broken heart discovered (too late, but just in time) the look of love which says to its betrayer, “This is my body, broken for you.”