Tuesday, December 24, 2013


The history of the early years of the apostles, when they were just boys, has mostly been lost because they didn’t like writing all that much.  It was hundreds of years more before anyone wrote down the stories.  I don’t know how I know about those boys -- mostly how they look and act -- but maybe I picked it off YouTube or something.  Stuff like this travels every which way these days.  No matter how much authorities try to control it, they are essentially trying to control boys and the whole purpose and motivation of boys is to escape any authority figures, esp. if they’re women.

By the time the boys became the familiar figures in the mythology -- no, not Dopey, Grumpy, Sneezy and all that -- and not Lancelot, Galahad, and so on -- they might have been named Simon later renamed Peter, Andrew his brother, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot But this is a different version, the early years, and some of the names were Irish, or Chinese, or Bosnian.  Even American Indian.  They weren’t chosen by anyone.  They just found each other.

Their families had thrown them out for being defiant, or maybe they had been taking drugs or something else illegal, or maybe their families had been killed by the occupying army or died of some plague.  The boys couldn’t tolerate the rules of refugee camps, so they left and survived however they could, and were pretty lonely until they found each other.  There’s this theory called “critical mass,” and it applies to humans in a way.  If a group gets to a certain size in a specific place, it develops an organic emergent style that helps everyone.  Unwritten rules, kind of, like “no one goes for medical help alone -- a buddy always comes along.”  Or “never go off with a stranger without a buddy knowing.”  There was always a lot of discussion and many close calls.  Those Roman soldiers were known to have very ambivalent attitudes about young boys.

But people who live along bodies of water know that if they fish, they eat, and so they did.  They also know that wine is safer to drink than some water, and so they did.  But bread was welcome.  They just were not in one place long enough to build ovens, and they had no leavening.  They WERE leavening.  But they didn’t know it.

As they went along the seashore, they left long chains of footprints, looked back at them, saw the pattern and rhythm of them, and this prompted them to make art, using whatever they found, but they went off and left what they made for others to find.  Sometimes they walked in a bunch with their hoodies, their burnooses, up on their heads because of wind or cold.  Other times, as though with a signal, they walked apart, each with his own thoughts.  A few had visions -- realer than dreams.  If they came to a really nice stretch of beach, they peeled off and plunged in, loving the dense salt water that almost made them feel as though they were flying.

There were fishermen with boats on this sea and the boys looked at them with assessing eyes, understanding the difference in the shapes of hulls and the tall triangular red sails.  Once they sat with an old man and tried knotting nets for a few days.  Another time they saw a boat had been beached somehow, and they turned out as though they were deckhands in order to push it back into the water, organizing each other with shouts so that they could find the rocking rhythm that would increase their force.  They learned that the best way to do this was with song, maybe with one person using a stick to pound out a pulse.  The Africans among them soon made the drumming so intricate that the fisherman drew up their boats close enough to listen.  Some of the boys wanted to make drums, but others pointed out they ought to travel light.  They settled for bells and little finger cymbals, which had to be wrapped in cloth to muffle them if they were passing sentries and check points.

If they found old walls or big boulders, they used them to work on their athletic abilities, doing backflips and other tricks, wishing for wheels which would let them really fly.  At night the boys who had been used to hammocks missed them, but there were rarely trees, so they all rolled their burnooses tighter around them and nested, cupped together for warmth.  Girls along the way fell in love with them and would have liked to come along, but girls meant babies and though they loved babies, there was no way to protect them as they traveled.  They didn’t even have a donkey.

It was a time of great poverty and oppression, but when is there a time without those forces?  The land was badly eroded and foreign occupying nations kept all commerce in check.  Bodies themselves were the last resource left and people were often trafficked one way or another as labor, or military or for sex.  

The boys kept hearing a name:  Yeshua or Joshua -- something like that.  Others talked about Adonis, Osiris, Tammuz who was a shepherd.  These guys, who might have been the same guy, were supposed to have been torn apart but then somehow pulled themselves together and come back.  The deal was that in pieces they became seed and grew new versions of themselves, but the boys were not farmers.  Did not plow crops.

One evening they were sitting around a campfire and they were grieving because one of them had cut his foot, it had infected, and he died.  But a fisherman had given them a LOT of fish and his wife gave them both bread and wine, so they were putting the fish on sticks to hold them over the fire and singing while they cooked.  They had taken their compatriot’s body high up into the stony hills where they found a cave and left him.  There were big pottery jars stored in there with rolls of papyrus, but they didn’t mess with them.  It didn’t look like a place often disturbed.  They wished for the magic to reassemble their friend.  At least they could kindle fires.  And they knew a lot of songs.  They got pretty drunk.

The thing about boys is that they grow up, whether or not they want to.  The group eventually dispersed as some of them settled down and others went so far away that they were never seen again and more of them died.  But always there were other boys drifting together wherever they could and that was a form of reincarnation or at least recurrent embodiment.  There are stories, songs and lessons about such men, disciples they call them, and the shape-shifter with many names, sometimes a shepherd and sometimes a sailor -- whatever.  Some people consider the whole thing a hoax.

Girls attached their own stories and inevitably there were babies after all, or there would not be any new boys.  Some of them turned out pretty well.  I’m female and old, so I never traveled with these swaggering young men, but I’ve heard about them.  They're mythic.  And not.  Sometimes they're real.

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