I tried blending in with the crowd of onlookers, mixing in with those who cared and those who didn’t. I tried fitting in with those who came to mourn and those who came to gawk. I tried to walk unseen among those who were hoping for a last-minute reprieve and those eager to witness the impending doom.

Among the swarm of people were those who were both revered and reviled because of their association with the condemned. Revered because they stood strong with him. Reviled because they stood strong with him. The faith of the followers was both praised and scorned.

Complicated, high and mighty, Rulers, stood shoulder-to-shoulder with simple, ordinary men and women. The leaders, though schooled in the language, history, science and mathematics of the day, had hearts so hardened that neither light nor love could penetrate. The every-day folks, though unschooled in the arts, were learned in the things of the heart.

I edged closer to the road where the sordid parade was making its way toward the hill outside of town. Progress was slow as the steps of the condemned faltered beneath the weight of the chosen method of execution. Then he fell. A guard lunged into the crowd and grabbed hold of a man who had been silently watching. “You carry it!” the guard ordered the bystander.

The man did as he was commanded; the parade continued through the dusty street. The condemned shuffled along behind, head down, shoulders slumped. Drops of sweat and blood mingling in the dust of his footprints.

I kept pace with the procession. Moving seamlessly among the throng. Standing behind those taller than me, shielding my body from view, peeking around when I thought I could safely snatch a look without being seen by his probing eyes.

I fooled myself into thinking I could blend in. I fooled myself into believing I could walk through unseen. I fooled myself into trusting that my own wits were enough to satisfy my curiosity.

My mind swirled with questions. Did I believe or not? Did I have what it takes to stand with him or not? My heart felt ready to burst with indecision and longing, yet there was also something more. As if a still small voice was within me, whispering. Then-
He saw me.
His piercing eyes spoke words to my questioning heart.
Don’t hide.
Stand strong.
I am who I said I am.

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