Josefa felt weighed down, unable to lift her arms or legs.
Her mind was racing and she tried to remember why she was on her cot in the middle of the day.
She remembered falling to the ground, her father placing her here on the cot, him calling for their servant, Josiah.
“Stay here,” he told Josiah. “Come for me if anything changes.”
His voice sounded so far away. She wasn’t sure how much time passed before the voices of her family faded into silence, darkness enveloping her and seconds later a blinding light.
Faces of people she didn’t recognize, blurred shapes, were slowly coming into focus before her
The voice was soft and familiar and then clear and close, her grandmother was standing before her, smiling, hands outstretched.
“Josefa, my darling, come! Come! I have someone I want you to meet! Oh so many I want you to meet! Your brother, Jacob, the one your mother lost before you. Your father’s brother, your uncle Malaichi, who died before you were born. Come!”
The village around her was beautiful, bright, bathed in a glow much like sunlight but even brighter, even more brilliant. People followed her as she walked with her hand in her grandmother’s, crowding around her, pushing against her.
“Welcome, Josefa,” they said, over and over, one by one, a dizzying mix of joy.
A small boy looked up at her with bright brown eyes and her father’s smile.
She felt lighter than the wind and she could see her arms and legs but she couldn’t feel them, certain somehow she didn’t need them to move in this mysterious new place.
A man with a long beard stood before her, taking her hands in his.
“Oh, Josefa. Why are you here so young? What has happened, my child?”
Slowly the face of her uncle began to blur, drift away, and when the darkness came again Josefa gulped air sharply into her lungs and
bolted upright into a sitting position, her entire body vibrating. She looked at her hands, her arms, realizing she could feel them again, focusing on the buzz sliding through her limbs as if she had been struck by lightning.
The tingling rushed from the soles of her feet to the top of her head as she looked around the room, dazed. Three men stood on one side of the room, looking at her in disbelief. One burst into laughter, seeming to be delighted at the sight of her. Another had his hands and face raised upward, his lips moving but no sound coming out. The third kneeled on to one knee, stroked his beard and watched her while shaking his head.
A fourth man was standing before her, hands outstretched, a peaceful expression on his face.
Suddenly her parents were clutching her to them, both taking turns to kiss her and cry. Their voices were loud, unabashedly loud, sounds she’d never heard from them before. They were usually reserved, quiet, certain to look proper to the community around them.
What had happened? Why did she suddenly have so much energy when she could remember feeling so weak only moments before?
Josefa heard a voice, soft, gentle, yet firm.
“Do you not see? Your daughter is alive. Get her food, drink. She will need her strength.”
How could someone speak with such authority yet also with such love?
“Yes, of course, Rabbi.”
The voice of her mother was reverent, trembling with emotion.
The water against her lips was cool as voices spoke excitedly around her.
“Praise be to God!”
The man who had told her parents to bring her food sat next to her, placing his hands on each side of her face. His eyes were full of kindness, of life. When she looked at him it seemed as they were the only people in the room. She could hear only his voice, see only his eyes.
“Josefa, your life has been returned to you. Go forth and live it fully.”
His hands were warm as he cupped her face in them. He kissed her forehead then gently lifted her face to look into is.
“Do you understand?”
She nodded meekly, not sure she truly did understand, but knowing she wanted to.
The man her father had called Rabbi stood and turned to the other men in the room.
“Peter, James, John, we must leave. There are others who need us.”
Her parents took his hand, kissed it and then each cheek.
“Teacher, how can we ever –“
His voice interrupted them. He gently shook his head, raised his hand.
“This is a gift. Treasure it. Tell no one what has happened here. This gift is for your family alone.”
Josefa could hear members of the crowd outside calling to him as he left.
“Jesus! Jesus! Are you who they say you are?”
“Tell us, Jesus. Are you truly the Messiah?”
“Jesus, your followers say you call yourself the Son of God. Who do you say you are?”