• Ancient Paths

When the Wood is Green


by Peter Venable


“Last night was warm so I slept under stars. An olive tree swayed, swished a hazy moon. I heard noises and saw torches flicker up the dark slope. Men tramped closer, closer until they circled round that scruffy man and a small crew of his associates. I got up, swathed linin wrap around me And peeked behind a nearby olive tree. A mob of soldiers and priests waved torches; I could not hear them, but one kissed his cheek. They seized and shackled that man I once heard, ‘a Prophet’ many claimed. His friends scattered. They led him down the slope and I followed until one of them yelled ‘He’s one of them.’ A guard grabbed me, gripped and pulled my linin. I shouted, ‘I don’t know this man’ and pulled, Then I broke free and dashed bare in dark groves until I knew they quit and turned away. Torches faded in the Kidron Valley. A cool breeze caused me to shake and shiver; I put on my tunic and went to sleep.


“At sunrise a guard poked me with his sword. “Is this the linin cloth you left behind?” “It is; it still has an old red wine stain. I don’t know that man! I’m the gardener.” The soldier eyed me, squinted in sunlight. He smirked, threw the linin cloth at my chest, sheathed his sword and walked down the stony path.”

“This happened last night in the Olive grove?” “Yes. I’m lucky the soldier let me go.” “So, where is this Prophet from Galilee?” “I don’t know. It is Passover today; untie the goat and we can start our walk.” “What do you think they did to the Prophet?” “One time I passed by as he said ‘. . . the blood of Abel to blood of Zechariah . . .’ I think he was talking about himself.”