Papa, Mama and I climbed up the hill with the others. It was lush and green, the smell of the Sea of Galilee was faint in the air. We chose a space near the Teacher, we were lucky to find a space so close. There were hundreds... maybe thousands of people there to hear Him speak. I looked around. I didn't know that our village had so many people in it. Perhaps there were some from neighboring villages as well. I sat down and gathered my feet close to me, hugging my knees. I watched the Teacher as He spoke to His disciple seated next to Him. He was about the same age as Papa, in his early thirties. He had dark hair and dark, shining eyes. His clothes were simple and worn and He had rough, calloused hands. I watched Him for a long time. He had such an interesting mix of humility and self assurance, and I felt like He was someone I had known forever. He looked over at me and our eyes met. He smiled and I felt loved...right to the tip of my toes. Like the love that I felt from Mama and Papa, only many many times bigger. I smiled and He smiled back. Then He looked around at the crowd, cleared His throat and began to speak.
Instantly the crowd was quiet. Everyone stopped what they were doing and sat, ready to hear what the Teacher had to say. As He spoke I watched Him some more. He didn't speak very loudly, but His words carried even to those sitting farthest away. The sound of His voice was soothing and calm. They said that He could calm the sea with just the sound of His voice. Even the things of nature obeyed Him? How could this be? And they said that He had brought people back from the dead! One time could have been believed to just be a coincidence, two times luck. But He had raised more than that, that had to be from GOD Almighty Himself.
He spoke for quite some time. He taught us about what it means to live our lives for GOD. And about resisting temptation and being faithful. I didn't understand some of what He was saying, but I felt like I could sit there forever, just listening to Him. After what seemed like only a few minutes, but I knew from the position of the sun to be really hours later, I realized that my stomach was growling fiercely. We had been sitting there listening so intently that we forgot about the noonday meal! It was now time for the evening meal, and we hadn't brought anything with us. I looked over at the Teacher and noticed that some of His disciples were talking earnestly with Him. They looked upset, but He was calm. I couldn't hear what they were saying, but after a few minutes the disciples started walking around to all the people. The one named John came over to us and told us everyone was to gather into groups of 50. We looked around and joined a group of people from our village. We sat waiting, speaking softly about what was to happen.
I watched as the disciples went back to the teacher. He was holding a piece of bread. He broke it and looked up to Heaven. "Father, I ask that You bless this bread. Let it be nourishment for our bodies as Your word is nourishment for our souls. We thank you for providing this simple meal, and commend our lives and bodies to Your service. Amen." He repeated this simple prayer with four more loaves of bread and two fish. Then He divided what He had blessed into a few baskets and the disciples started to circulate among the groups, handing out the food. My heart sank. There would be nothing left when they got to my group. There was no way there would be enough, they were so far away and there were many people to feed before they got to us. I looked around, if there were 50 people in each group, and there were...100 groups! That was 5000 people. Nope, not going to be anything left for us.
I sat for a bit, thinking of what I could do. Should I run to our house, see what I might bring to feed Papa, Mama and I? I might miss a little of the teaching, but at least we wouldn't be hungry. I turned to Mama, and she smiled. She had this way of knowing what I was thinking before I said anything. "Have faith child." that's all she said. I sat back and looked over at the disciples. Ok. I would wait. Mama said so. Before long one of the disciples started toward our group. I waited patiently, thinking that at least I might get a small crust. I watched as he stopped at the edge of our group, his hand reaching into the basket. As he leaned over the basket tipped a bit and I could see into it.
It was full.
Full! How could it be full? The Teacher had only put a small piece of fish and half a loaf of bread in it. I had seen it with my own eyes!! It didn't even start full, how could it be full now? When he got to me I looked into the basket and it was full to the brim. I looked quickly around at the people in my group. About forty of them had already been fed and were happily eating large chunks of bread and enormous chunks of roasted fish. My head snapped back to look into the basket again. I looked up at the disciple and saw that he was watching me. His eyes twinkled as he smiled and leaned over to hand me my share. "Have faith child." and he turned away to feed those next to me. I looked down at the food in my hand. Miracle food. I took a bite of the fish and sighed. Delicious.
I went away from the hill that day changed. I never forgot the way The Teacher had smiled at me. Or the way the disciple had repeated the words Mama had spoken to me. But I will never, as long as I live, forget the sight of that full basket, or the taste of that Miracle Food. It filled my belly that day, but the wonder of it has filled my soul ever since.