She slipped out of the house in the middle of the night, just as the wind off the lake was starting to pick up. Clouds raced across the moon as if they were contestants in some heavenly chariot race. In the distance she could see flashes of lightning. She didn’t care. She had never been afraid of storms.
Of course she shouldn’t be out at all, especially alone, especially at night. But with all the little sisters and brothers tucked in and finally asleep after chattering far past bedtime about the happenings of the day, she needed some time of her own to think things over. So she covered her head, listened for her father’s deep, even breathing, and silently slid out the door.
It had been such an unexpected day. The rumors had started early that morning– the Teacher was up in the hills, and he was going to teach. Father had already gone out to fish, leaving her as usual at home with several young siblings and a long list of work to do. Oh, how much she wanted to go hear the Teacher! She had heard so many stories about him, stories she longed to discover were true. There were whispers– could this be Messiah?
“Please, Rachel! Let us go see him!” The children clamored around her, begging. She glanced around the house. Always so much to do– weaving and bringing the water, baking the bread and mending the clothes that the little ones wore through so quickly.
She missed her mother so much. Still young, at the death of her mother Rachel had become the woman of the house. Her father relied heavily on her to care for the younger children and for the work of the home. Rachel wondered how long it would last– she was old enough to marry now, and she knew that at least one man had approached her father about the topic, but he seemed unable to make a decision. Rachel knew that unless her father remarried himself, she might stay here raising her brothers and sisters and caring for her father’s home until she was too old to find a suitable husband. It all seemed so unfair.
The young ones were still pulling on her, begging her to let them go see the Teacher. “I heard he can do miracles!” “I heard he healed someone in Jerusalem who couldn’t walk!” “I heard he turned water into wine!” Rachel sighed. She could use a miracle.
With a sudden flash of a smile, Rachel reached a decision. There was enough bread and fish for another day or two. “All right,” she agreed. “Let’s go see the Teacher.” The excited squeals of the little ones seemed to shake the little house. Rachel filled several little bags with food for them, determining to go without to make sure there’d be enough for Father when he reached home.She sent the children scurrying around to the corners of the house, tidying it up, leaving it neat and cared-for, as Mother had always done, as Father liked it.
Opening the door, Rachel peered out into the streaming sunlight of the morning. The crowd in the street made it look like a festival day. Children and their mothers, old men, and even some of the working men who hadn’t made it out to their boats or their shops yet– all were pushing their way along the dusty road, talking loudly and excitedly. Rachel’s brothers and sisters rushed out, too, spotting friends and acquaintances and cousins in the crowd. Shutting the door behind her, Rachel felt a rush of thankfulness that there were so many people she could trust to keep an eye on the little ones. As alone as she felt sometimes, the people of the village had been in many ways a big family for her and her brothers and sisters. She knew she would never have survived this long without their help.
“Rachel! Are you going to see the Teacher?” Rachel squinted into the sunlight to see her friend Imma waving to her from the road. With a quick wave back and a final tug to make sure the door was shut completely, Rachel lifted her shawl up over her head and joined the other girl in the long procession of people who were making their way up into the hills to see the Teacher they had heard so much about– Jesus of Nazareth.