Peter Remembers (1 of 3)
Setting aside his stylus, he pushed away from his desk. Pacing back and forth in the small room, his form methodically interrupted the narrow shaft of light spilling in at a lean angle from the small window, casting a long shadow over the parchment. After several minutes, he paused to look out the window. Lifting his gaze to the nearby hills, he began to reminisce. As he pored over the words he had just penned, “We did not follow cleverly devised myths . . .” he thought back to that great moment on a hillside, a hillside much like the one at which he now stared. Smiling and laughing, and with tears dimming his eyes, he shook his head in disbelief at the memory. “We heard the very voice of God,” he muttered to himself. “We watched as the Christ was confirmed in our presence—our friend, and our closest companion—and by the voice of the Father himself!” Briefly bowing his head in order to clarify the memory, and also to give thanks, he suddenly started. Rushing back to his bench and his parchment, he scrambled frantically for his stylus and continued to write, “ . . . but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.” “Yes,” he thought aloud, “That is it. We WERE eyewitnesses of his majesty. What a day that was.”
[Yet this recollection awakened darker memories . . .]
The day had been a long one, and he was tired. So much had happened in the previous week. So much had swirled around in his mind—much, in fact, that he did not understand. Much that he did not want to understand, and even less to believe. He thought to himself, argued with himself, “Three times he had told us what it was that he must suffer. Three times! Yet how can it be? How is it that one so perfect and so powerful—one who clearly has come from God—can be treated in such a way?” Supper came and went. It was a special meal, of course, because it was Passover. It was special not only because of the feast to which it was attached, but also because of the moment. And it was significant, too, because it was different from every other Passover meal up to this point in his life. Their little group had observed together all the proper rites and rituals and prayers for the occasion. And it was a fine meal. Fine enough, at least. But hovering over the entire gathering was darkness. The assembly was tinged heavily with sorrow. There was little conversation, and what there was was only whispers and portents. Hope was scarce. And it seemed there was no longer anything to which to look forward. Talk was mostly of betrayal, abandonment, and death, which mystified him. “I refuse to accept this,” Peter decided. “In fact, I am committed to never allow it to happen! I will keep him safe, and I will never forsake him. I will never abandon him. I will never betray or deny him!” But even with his bold declarations of fidelity, there remained a deep sense of foreboding. An overpowering black shadow made that night impossibly dark.
Night with ebon pinion
Brooded o’er the vale
All around was silent
Save the night wind’s wail . . .
The garden, though familiar, was dark, and the sound of silence deafening. He and his two companions grew weary. Though tasked with keeping watch—at which he guiltily recalled his earlier commitment to protection and faith—they could not overcome their fatigue. Thus he and his friends slept. They did not rest long, however, for soon the Master came and roused them roughly, “SO, COULD YOU NOT WATCH WITH ME FOR EVEN ONE HOUR??!!” They recoiled. They had never seen Jesus like this! Peter was ashamed. They all were. But their shame was nothing compared to their frailty. So they slept again, this time undisturbed . . .
He wept as he remembered the garden. In fact, the disgrace he felt at recounting his inadequacies was enough to cause him to fall on his face in grief, even after all these years. “How could I? How could we?” Even though it was now in the distant past, it was still so very raw—so fresh in his heart and in his mind. “How could I not have known? It was I, even I, who made the confession! What a cowardly, faithless fool I was.” But in his recollection he knew one thing: that for all the foolhardy mistakes he had made during that time, for all his misunderstanding and ignorance, the worst was yet to come.