Familiar chatter invited me to settle into their midst as though no angry words or time had passed between us. John grinned at me and passed bread across the table, then he winked at his brother, James, and said, “Think he’s ready?” Left me a little wary, ya know.
The meal over, the storytelling started. Men and women, alike, were scattered here and there around the room, wherever they could find a seat. We listened to James and John or John and Peter argue over the telling of one story then another, always ending with laughs.
I felt it at first—a chill in the air that made the chatter fade. Simone straightened. Mary glanced toward the door. Andrew’s laughter receded and, as I glanced toward him, a presence stood in front of me—brighter than a flash of lightning. My heart lurched. My pulse raced. Boom! I was on my knees and on my face.
“Peace be with you.” The words caused that familiar stirring in my gut. It was Him, but it couldn’t be.
I looked up into the face I could never forget. He was solemn but gentle.
“Reach here with your finger, Thomas, and see my hands.”
His hands? There they were, right in front of me. Powerful, tender fingers and a gaping wound beginning to scar—and then I heard the echo of my own hasty words. ‘Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails—put my finger into the place of the nails….’
He had heard me. He had known.
He pulled aside His tunic. “Reach here your hand and put it into my side.”
‘…fantasies. If you can’t see it, touch it, inspect it … try to produce … try to conjure….’ Those words jumped back at me. Is there something real you can’t touch or see? Andrew’s laughter. Mary’s joy. The kindness of everyone to receive me, to forgive me.
“Be not unbelieving,” Jesus said, “but believing.”
The door in my mind opened and light poured in. I knew. “My Lord, and my God!”
He reached down a hand with a hole in it and lifted me to my feet. “Because you have seen Me, Thomas, have you believed? Happiest are they who did not see, and yet believe.”