Music drifts across the cool autumn air, tumbling between the village homes, dancing over the harvested fields and dipping in and out of the rows of the now empty grape vines.
It tickles my ears, teases me, beckons me.
The whole village of Cana has turned out for the wedding. The feasts have gone late into the night and the traditional ceremonies are taken up each morning.
I have resisted the temptation to join in, for certainly someone would turn me away. But I can’t restrain myself any longer. Especially since I heard he is also here.
I don’t enter the town through the main road, crowded as it is with wedding guests coming and going. Instead, I slip between the baker’s house with its warm smell of yeast and oil, and a small, smelly pen filled with bleating sheep, most likely waiting to take their part in the feast.
I keep my head covered and my face hidden, hoping no one will recognize me. A quick glance at the merry goers tells me I should be safe, for I recognize no one.
He strides down the street with a small group of young men. Not long ago, I had been privileged and delighted to be near the lake when he invited several of them to join him. A few are beyond the typical age of being called by a rabbi, yet they left their father’s boats and followed him. I fall in step next to some others who trail behind, not part of his company, but intrigued enough to shadow them.
As we walk, hushed murmurs slither about the townspeople. Not loud enough to be heard above the music, but seen in their faces as they discuss a matter, in an ear, behind a raised hand, in a turn of a head. With furrowed brows and pursed lips. What was causing dismay on a day of celebration?
The rabbi pauses outside the gates of a large home and a woman approaches him. Is it about the hushed secrets? As casually and indiscreetly as I can, I work my way forward until I’m close enough to catch the conversation.
“…no more wine.”
The comment darts like a hummingbird among the young men.
Eyebrows raise. Eyes widen. Mouths open.
How could they run out of wine?
Did the host not purchase enough?
Had they not expected the whole town to turn out?
I strain to hear the rabbi’s response. After all, what is he to do? He is a guest.
He looks down at the woman, a small smile playing at the corners of his mouth. “Mother, why should that concern me? — or you? My time hasn’t come yet.”
Ahh, his mother. But again, what does she expect him to do?
Yet she laughs. Then turns to the servants who accompany her. “Do whatever he tells you.” They give polite nods and wait for further instruction. The rabbi watches as she slips through the gates and disappears into the courtyard.
I hold my breath. Is he going to do something? There had been talk. That he had powers from God. But no one had seen him do anything in public yet.
Others in the street slow and stop, adding to the gathering crowd.
The rabbi turns back to his small group of men and says something only they can hear. Oh, to be privy to his private comments. He then looks to the servants and to a row of tall jars standing along the wall next to the gates. To these he nods. “Fill them with water.”
Surprise blossoms on their faces. It quickly vanishes and they hurry away. Throughout the village, music still plays, conversations still buzz and laughter still breaks by those unaware of the crisis. Those of us who are aware, wait.
The servants return, carrying barrels of water, which they pour into the jars, then hurry away again. Three times they pour, until the six jars are filled. The rabbi steps closer and inspects each one. “Now draw some out.”
Again surprise covers their faces. And hesitation. But one of the servants plucks the ladle hanging next to the jars and dips it in. Another servant presents a cup to which the liquid is poured. Deep, rich, red liquid. Sparkling in the afternoon sun.
Gasps escape from the lips of everyone watching. Including mine.
Another smile plays on the rabbi’s lips. “Take it to the man in charge of the banquet.”
The other servants open the gates wide for the one with the cup to enter.
Of course the others follow. But slowly, because each one pauses to look into the jars and wonder at their contents.
I remain behind as the rabbi and his men go inside; I dare not be bold enough to enter the home. I glance around. From the folds of my cloak I pull out the chunk of bread I lifted from one of the servant’s trays when she wasn’t looking. I edge my way closer to the nearest jar and peak in. Dark red liquid reflects the sky above. I dip a corner of the bread into it. Red quickly soaks in. I bring it to my lips and taste. Spicy rich flavors fill my mouth.
Inside the house, the music pauses and hush falls.
I quickly retreat and climb up and sit a wall where I have a view of the gates.
Then a burst of joy, a shout carries through an open window. “Quickly, call the bridegroom. Bring him here.”
The rest is lost in the jubilation as the celebration starts up again. The musicians take up a lively tune that make one’s feet itch to tap and move.
The gates open and the servants return, shooing away those dipping fingers and tasting the wine. They pick up the jars and take them into the courtyard.
The news scampers with delight about the townspeople. Loud enough to be heard above the music, shouted from one to another across the street, proclaimed from the corners, told with awe and wonder.
From my perch on the wall, I watch the gates as I nibble on the rest of the wine soaked bread.
Grace & Peace