Unlike the leaders of the day, people listened when Yeshu’a spoke, not because they had to but because they wanted to, not out of fear, but out of desire and respect. Age seemed irrelevant, his words reaching beyond his years, but never were they spoken down. For over four years, he helped me learn. Yeshu’a had spent many years, from the age of six, learning his father’s trade. Already he was a gifted craftsman, making the most lovely furniture, much of it with intricate hand-carved details, each created with love. He and his brother were expected to take over the family business, a business that held them in good stead, but I knew that wasn’t what he wanted.
There are times in our lives when Fate steps in, decides our path, or at least a small portion of it, for us. Such was what happened now, not just for Yeshu’a, but for me, as well. He lost his father. I lost my mother. Yeshu’a was sad, but accepted the death, praying for him, holding his mother’s hand in support as he was entombed. I was mad, furious that my mother had left me, scared that I was on my own.
“May His great name be blessed forever, and to all eternity.” He held my hand as we watched my mother being carried into a tomb.
I was remembering the half-smile she wore while she worked, the gentle laugh I heard not often enough. I couldn’t bring myself to look in that hole. The anger and confusion helped hold the terror of what was to come for her, and for myself, at bay.
“You’ll be fine, Miryam. You aren’t to be alone.”
I frowned, looking slowly up into his face. “But I am alone.”
His smile tender, he wrapped his arms around me. “No. I have a plan.”
My mouth went dry.
“In the morning, you shall come with me. We will be off to see my uncle, Yusef.”
I shook my head. “That wouldn’t be proper. What would...”
He held me at arm’s length now, his hands on my shoulders. “Miryam, I love you. I love how you think, how you are so eager to learn, how you are so generous. Your learning can’t stop now.”
“But... yours has.”
His smile broadened. “No. No, Miryam, my learning has not yet started, and you will learn with me. My father’s brother, Clophas, is taking over the family business. He has worked a long time with my father, and it’s only right that he should now be at the helm, at least until Yuses or Shim’on are sure they want to. I, however, have no need to stay. My uncle, Yusef, will be leaving soon. We will travel with him. I don’t care what others think, and he won’t either.”
I was unsure of what to say, what to feel. A flood washed over me, first relief then joy, then sorrow, fear once again settling in my heart. “I... I can’t...”
“You can, and you will. We will get ready tonight then be off at first light.”
Responsibility weighed on me. “I have... I have my mother’s business to tend to.” She labored day and night to sustain what my father had created. It now fell to me.
“Is that what you want? Do you desire it or is it something you feel obligation to?”
I needed a moment to think it through. “I don’t really want to... I know that it provided many hours of pride and contentment for my father, and I know it provided a roof and food for us, but I am not sure...”
Yeshu’a smiled, took my hand and led to me the bench near the well. We sat beside each other. “Clophas is an honest man. You can trust him. Maybe we can talk to him together, see if he would oversee your interests... I’m sure he would. That way, if you want to return to it, you can. In the meantime, you can work on your education. It would hold you in very good stead should you want to return and resume what your parents started.”
I had no argument, no reason to refuse. “We should do that.”
Yeshu’a nodded. “My uncle will teach us on the way. He speaks many languages, does business abroad, knows where we can go to learn more. Are you listening to me, Miryam? This is a voyage we shall take together, a quest to learn all there is to know.”
“Where are we going?”
There was a glint in his eye. “We go where the waves take us.”
Intriguing as that might be, it wasn’t a good enough answer. “Where are the waves taking us?” I waited, arms crossed.
“Brittany. We shall start our learning, our real journey, in Brittany.”