It is hard to describe events at the beach this morning, amid their astonishment at seeing me.
Peter promised a book – ‘I will write a book of all this, this must be a book!’… though he cannot write, as Levi pointed out, ‘You can clean barnacles off the keel and stand steady in a storm, Peter. But you cannot write.’
Peter does say things. He has never been measured with his mouth; no hand on the tiller there and caught by every wind.
Some say he speaks before he thinks, though I say he just speaks; there is no obvious thought on display.
Though their astonishment, bright-eyed and frantic, scarce equals mine; I laugh inside so much, I cannot quiet it.
I laugh as they leap from the boat, splashing and wading towards me, half-swimming. I cannot believe it, this scene before my eyes.
I am making a fire, the fire is all I need, it is everything – smouldering wood, smoke and embers, heat in the morning chill and the splash and the rush toward me, the wet sunlight, these mad idiots, my friends.
‘It’s him, it’s him,’ they shout. ‘Teacher, is it you!? It cannot be you! Don’t be so stupid, it can’t be him! Teacher, it cannot be you!’
I am ripped apart by amazement and joy…amazement that I am here, that this is so; and such joy at seeing the sea and these wasters again.
They once ran away, it comes back to me, how they all disappeared; though I have lost my capacity for blame, truly… for we are not where we were, Gethsemane feels a long time ago; and now a different space unfolds.
They run towards me, soaked through with Galilee salt and shouting, arguing as they approach and I get up to greet them, to hug and to hold – as close to friends as I shall have, though Magdala is not here. And maybe that is best.
‘So where are the fish?’ I ask. ‘We cannot eat surprise.’