A Mormon Tale of Eastertide
“Jeremiah said, ‘The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.’ Then fair King Zedekiah (ever the prophet’s fanboy) nodded convulsively, saying, ‘True dat, Bro!'”Jeremiah 8:20, Fellow’s Translation of the Holy Bible
The entire western face of the rocky hill, including Golgotha, lit bright orange with rays from the parting suns. This dusky glow mingled with fire from burnt offerings being given to Baal in the flatlands. The evening breeze rose savory with incense and the blood of sons. In this setting, Jeremiah made his way to the summit.
The Jeremiah of this world—a simpler world nearer to Kolob—was a tarrying prophet. Like John and the Three Nephites of Earth, he walked and preached undying. The price for this temporal security was to always be ill, ever purging the crude and natural from his system. When he reached the summit where Peter and Mary waited, Jeremiah fell to the ground and began vomiting.
“I am become wind. My words dash and dissolve on the rock,” Jeremiah said between retches. Mary replied: “Thus saith your Lord, I am a god of beginnings and gatherings. Always.”
Peter looked down at Jeremiah, sighing as the prophet emptied his stomach. The apostle said to Mary, “See how the rocky hill soaks him in. See how he makes it a mountain.”
Mary knelt behind Jeremiah, placing her left hand on his shoulder, her right hand helping him to lie down on his side. He heaved again, groaned, and panted. Jeremiah curled up as Mary’s left hand came to rest over his heart. His gaze drifted over a land speckled with people writhing. In vision, he saw the end of their bonfires.
“Why did they make Joseph return? Why do they shame him into staying? Cannot they see if he stays, he will become James’s and his wife’s abuser?” Jeremiah tried to sit up, but Mary held him down. She gently shushed him, but the prophet continued: “Why confine a man to a place that triggers his madness? Let Joseph be the seer of his downfall. So let him put himself away and wander. Better a deadbeat dad than a dad who beats.”
Jeremiah heaved again, tenser than before yet almost dry. Peter said, “This is no useful policy. There is no prosperity in it.”
Mary kept her focus on Jeremiah. “Peter, lay him out a prayer mat, so he can calm himself and be nourished.” Begrudgingly, Peter took the shroud from Mary’s things and began to fold it into a thick, soft square on which Jeremiah could kneel.
Growing calmer, Jeremiah looked on as the landscape filled with burning altars. “O Mother! Do not bring me to nothing. I have called on them to let Joseph go, so he may spare his family both tongue and fist. Yet, they will not hear.”
Peter also looked out on the throngs. “There will be no orderly secession. We must look to prosecuting a victorious civil war.” To this Mary gave neither glance nor reply. Instead, she measured the slowing breaths of Jeremiah. Faintly she said, “Thus saith the Lord of hosts, fear not the terms and conditions of kings. I will keep you.”
Jeremiah sat up. Settling behind the prophet, Mary hugged and soothed his torso. Her legs and feet spread out on either side of him. Ever so slightly, she rocked him while humming a tune. Jeremiah gave up his vision of the madding crowd and looked down at Mary’s hands and feet. “Your hands and feet,” he whispered. “Your hands and feet!”
Notes and Discussion Prompt
This piece is a continuation of the Eastertide narrative begun in Mary Among the Fools. Reactions are welcome in the comments below. Even if only as an intellectual fieldtrip, have you ever contemplated what expressions of atonement might look like on other worlds? If so, what have you imagined?
It’s very stream of consciousness. What’s it all about?
Thank you for the feedback. I honestly hadn’t thought deliberately about the stream of consciousness angle until you mentioned it, so that is very helpful. This all started during Lent, when I started letting mediation sessions I was attending on Zoom inform my storytelling choices for a series of recent posts. As far as what it’s all about, my blogging here at W&T has generally focused on on old-school Mormonism, or what is sometimes called McConkie Mormonism–so very literal, unapologetic theology and doctrine in the context of an expansive universe of worlds without number. Also, I am very interested in how a Heavenly Mother could fit into this context if she is an active player with real leadership authority. So, I use poetry and prose to explore the idea, setting pieces on other worlds, or a premortal life, or even a little season after Christ’s millennial reign. But for the last couple of months in particular, the ideas and images have largely been a product of thoughts percolating during meditation, which may be causing the stream of consciousness feel.
Honestly, I’m not really sure where it’s headed as far as the characters featured here. I decided after Lent I wanted to explore the Book of Jeremiah from the Old Testament. So Jeremiah enters the scene in this story as a product of meditations I’ve done while hearing the Book of Jeremiah on audio playing in the background as I meditate. Hope that helps shed some light on what I’m experimenting with.
There’s an interesting feeling of other times being present at the same time here. I like the exploration of mental illness and it’s effects on abuse and the hard decisions faced by family and individuals, the needs that conflict. I wanted to hear Peter or Mary reassure Jeremiah that the situation with Joseph was over and past… But they don’t. That alone tells part of the story.
lws329, thank you for the observations! I’m inclined to agree with the points you make.