It was late. I was tired, sitting out in the warmth of the summer night. The men had been drinking. Good wine, it was. Everyone was happy. A wedding is always cause for celebration, the joining of two families, the promise of babies. And just as oil makes faces shine, so wine gladdens the heart.
My daughters were with me. My sons too – somewhere. They were laughing and dancing. Drinking copious amounts, no doubt. Men laugh at us women for enjoying the fineries of weddings, the clothes, the jewellery, the unbridled joy of it all. But they love it too, the thrill of the bridegroom’s procession to the home of his betrothed as he goes to claim her as his own. They love the camaraderie of it, as a whole village gathers to celebrate the gift which God gives in joining one man with one woman.
This wedding nearly got messy, though. The wine ran out. It was just a whisper at first, a rumour. My eldest was next to me when we heard. Checking on me, making sure I was all right and didn’t need to go home yet. One of his friends, a lad who used to fish the lake until he started spending time with my son, came over to us. Jesus’ attention was on one of his sisters so he didn’t hear the lad at first. But I heard him. So did the servants who were standing nearby.
The wine has run out, I heard him say.
My face flamed. It wasn’t my shame. But it might as well have been. I felt it like it was my own. The bridegroom should have had enough. My heart twisted, just as his would twist when he heard the news. For these were to be days of joy not sadness, honour not shame. So I did all I knew to do. I tugged on my son’s arm. Said to him those simple words, They have no wine.
He saw it in my face, what I wanted. And he knew what I knew. The promises made over him. He knew why I looked to him, my eldest.
And he rebuked me, told me his hour had not yet come. It was gentle but no less firm for its kindness.
But I didn’t care.
Faith never does.
And so I turned to those servants who had been hovering. Instructed them to do whatever he told them. Perhaps he thought I was presumptuous. But I think he knew what this was. It wasn’t manipulation. Since his coming-of-age my words could never make my son do what I wanted. He had entered an awareness of intimacy with another Voice and from then on, though he always honoured me, he did only what he heard that Voice doing, what he saw that invisible Presence doing.
So it wasn’t presumption, you know. But something stirred inside me. Faith, perhaps. It took hold of him, clung in assurance that he would show compassion, protect the honour of the newly-weds, push back shame from their family.
I knew him, you see. I knew his heart like only a mother can.
I told those servants to do what he said and, as if he had never rebuked me, he turned to them. Pointing to the water jars nearby, he told these young men and women to fill the jars. I don’t know what they thought. But there was command in his voice that night and they obeyed quickly. No half-measures in their obedience, either, for those jars were filled until water sloshed over the top. When he told them next to draw some out of the jars to take to the master of the feast, perhaps they thought he was mad. But they did it.
What happened next was miraculous. I don’t know what else to call it. At some point – and I don’t know when – that water became wine. Jesus didn’t pray over that water. At least, not that I heard. And he didn’t lay hands over it. There was simply the voice of command.
And though his words were innocuous enough, when I think again about it now I remember the story of the Beginning. That first book of our Law which tells of the creation of all that is by the Word of Adonai, spoken into the tohuw barren.
I remember that story, how the Most High manifested his glory in his Word. I remember – and I wonder, playing it over and over in my heart. Were my son’s few words of command expression of the same glory manifest in divine Word? In this did my son betray the truth of his Sonship so that those with eyes to see might see and those with ears to hear might hear?
The bridegroom was speechless that night. He’d been party to a great miracle. The lad from the lake saw it too. But perhaps, then at least, it was only I who saw the glory.
Glory of a word.
Glory of the Word.