The Gladiator Book I 3rd draft 11-30-2011
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jesus, spurrio and the money changers.

Tell yourself when you make a mistake that was just another silly mistake I must be really afraid of love today.
i am telling you the truth, no master is greater than his slave, no master is free of his slave.
Nothing true can be taken down, Nothing untrue can be put up, Herein lies the peace of God.

The Gladiator — Book 1

The Gladiator was exhausted, but was still able to bring his shield up to parry the triad as though he were reaching for an apple from a bowl of fruit. Though the body was depleted the mind was disciplined, he did not panic. This block had been in time, but he was slowing down. He felt it absorbed into his forearm then glance off of his shield, instantly he countered with the gladius in his right hand bringing it down and across at a 45 degree angle, lurching forward with his right foot after the swing, too late, the Retiarius was far removed. He circled around to Spurio Pompili ‘s left side, feigned another thrust, stepped back, then thrust the triad at his face with lightening speed, Spurio Pompili was barely able to avoid it with a combination of a rising block with his shield and bending his knees while ducking his head under it. Close! There was no counter this time, he was too exhausted. The two combatants circled each other warily in sand that burned under the scorching sun. Spurio Pompili , sweating profusely was losing the battle of attrition. He was the heaver and more powerful of the two, but was less agile. He was well accustomed to suffering the wounds of combat under the intense heat of Roma’s sun, he had been trained well. Discipline and indifference wove a sturdy pattern in the Gladiator’s psyche, but training also taught that the body had its limits and Spurio Pompili knew that his was fast approaching its own. Sweat stung his eyes and he could no longer ignore the screaming cramps in his legs, making them ever heavier by the second. The Retiarius feigned to his head again which brought his shield high again, but the effort was enormous, his left shoulder burned. When he dropped the shield too low a point of the triad found its mark again piercing the forehead, making it bloodier. He was locked in a downward spiral toward a slow death of a thousand cuts. Spurio would make a life or death decision, on his feet, with blood burning his eyes and cramps setting in. He would likely regret either action, but he had to decide and training took over again, he dropped the shield, it fell with a muffled sound, pushing into the sand like a stone in the water.
Without his shield Spurio Pompili was free to move about, but was exposed to the Trident. Now the retirarius swung the net at his head, forcing Spurio Pompili to duck his head, but now he saw an opening as the retirarius’s follow through exposed his rib cage and Spurio did not hesitate he jabbed his gladius at the open ribs like it was a piece of meat. As the blood poured, Spurio Pompili hoped he had broken a rib, but he had only bruised it. The retirarius feeling as though all of his ribs were broken brought both elbows in to protect the badly punctured ribs. It was involuntary leaving him momentarily rooted, exposed to Spurio Pompili ‘s sword, but he was too exhausted to follow-up. Instead he moved around to his right, keeping a safe distance while desperately trying to take control of his breathing. It was something he would not regain until one of them was dead. The Retirarius however seemed already to have endured the worst of it as he cast the net over Spurio Pompili’s head and moved closer with the Trident while the net was still in the air. Spurio Pompili sliced at the open net, collecting up harmlessly to the ground and in one move parried the Trident at the last second. The retirarius deftly spun back, reached his net on the ground, and returned to face Spurio Pompili squarely. The near misses were taking their toll.
Exhausted Spurio Pompili moved back, circling to his right trying to buy time, but the retirarius had much different intentions, he pressed the attack. Stepping backward Spurio Pompili felt the net wrapping around his left ankle, calmly he lifted his leg stepped in and thrust his sword, but the Retiarius moved back out of range and deftly countered with his three-pronged spear. Spurio with his shield long since dropped could only block it by jamming the point of his sword in it between two of the three prongs. It was a close call and he could feel the clinging of the three-pronged sphere against the iron anklet of his left leg. Spurio clenched his free left fist and delivered a crushing blow to the Retirarius’s jaw. The Retirarius staggered back and dropped his spear. The instinct was now for Spurio to plunge his gladius deep into his opponent’s chest, but fatigue from an hour of combat beneath the scorching Roman sun made him hesitate. It was fatigue that forced him to drop his shield, and it now intensified allowing the swifter Retiarius to roll on the ground toward his trident and come up with it standing. Spurio was as disheartened as he was astonished. He had to retrieve his shield. Facing his opponent squarely, in a left forward stance with his sword firmly in his right hand Spurio shifted to his left, the Retiarius would not so easily allowing him to. This time the when the fishermen threw his net around Spurio’s left ankle it latched on, and he pulled it straight. Spurio staggered but caught himself. But the fishermen buried the center prong of his Trident into Spurio’s straightened left knee. The excruciating pain electrified him, but it lasted only long enough to intensify his pain. Spurio looked at the blood gushing from his leg that was bent backwards and fell back hard between his shoulder blades. He lay on the ground in the position of a man being crucified. He was going to be skewered. The Retiarius moved to Spurio’s left and was standing between him and his shield. He moved in cautiously for the kill, making sure that Spurio was too injured and fatigued to counter him. Satisfied he began his approach, but when he moved in Spurio saw something that made him fear both life and death and doubt all that he had till this moment believed and known. It made him lift his head and through distraction and fatigue his training held sway, the gladius was still in his hand. So, as the sky behind the Retiarius began to drop out of existence Spurio had to make a split second decision, was death the greater disaster or was it life. When a black lightning bolt sliced across the late afternoon sky it seemed that death, was more welcome, but a second after when whole black chunks of the sky were ripped away showing only starless space behind, that was most uncertain. From his back Spurio brought his sword across his body and the Retiarius lost his left leg above the knee, on the backstroke it was the right leg that ripped away, just below the kneecap. Spurio never saw that which he had done in less than a second, focused as he was on the sky falling away in slabs, as though the earth were a room in the sky, whose walls came down like papaya in a storm to reveal a darkness so total that all light was taken in there and from there none returned. Then as the advancing darkness opened it’s ugly mouth and drew near he put his head back down and clenched the sand with all that remained of him feeling the light sprinkle of blood that dappled around his body. Then he turned away and shut his eyes tight hoping that the darkness inside his lids could protect him from the darkness on the other side of them.
Lucilla couldn’t unclench her eyes, fully expecting that when she opened them the Retirarius would have skewered her husband to death. She never would have reopened them, except for the faint cries of her husband’s name. Pompili, Pompili. She could believe that he had won again even less than the crowd. Slowly, cautiously, not to be deceived she opened them focused. Her jaw shuddered as she strained in the distance to see the unthinkable, her husband, alive. She was in no condition for rational thought as tears streamed down her face and drool unabashedly dribbled from the corner of her mouth, her love for her husband matched only by her pure joy to see him alive. She brushed back tears only to confirm the vision. Then as he lay there prostrate on the ground about the length of her thumb writhing in agony her joy became enmeshed with his pain. His pain, it was an altogether new experience for her, to him for that matter. The joy was not subdued, but added to by his pain becoming hers. She could see her husband’s body and feel his pain, but she could not see the darkness he had just seen, could not know that for him everything had changed, and changed much more than if the Retiarius had just killed him.
She was on her feet, moving down to where they were taking her husband. Her only thought was to rush to her husband, to tend to his wounds. She needed to comfort and take care of him, though even that was as much for herself as for his needs. But for now the Romans and iron gates still separated her from him. Yet Lucilla blamed Jesus not the Romans for her husband’s slavery, her separation from him, and the horrendous tortures he endured, suffering which she could not even think about, along the brutal trail that led him from intellectual discussions on to spiritual enlightenment in Judea, to a bloody gladiator pit in Rome. Now, angry, grieving, and terrified for the life of her husband she was pleased that he had been crucified; now she felt he was deserving of it, making it less painful to her. Even in death it was Jesus not the Romans separating her from her husband. But just one more victory and that would be no more, Vettius had sworn it personally and contracted legally. Just one more victory and her husband was again a free man to be with her forever. That sweet thing, she and her husband together again, it was so close that it was almost real, she could almost touch it, but with tears still streaming and her body wracked at once by both agony and rapture, as she watched her husband screaming being carried away she knew that for now forever would have to wait.
Moving down she kept her eyes only on the stones beneath her feet. She bumped shoulders and slipped in between one faceless person, then another. Moving in and out of the light as she descended, men stared at her as she passed unaware. Someone else moved her body through the maze of debauched fanatics intoxicated by wine and blood of the games; she was merely a passenger in it.
She was completely in the shade now, though the air was still hot having been cooked by the sun all day. A fight broke out between two men gambling, but it sounded vicious, guttural, like the lions that had been fighting in the arena earlier. She looked up just in time to see one man’s face ripped open by the club brought down from the heavens. Blood splashed like a rock thrown into a still pond. Then others gathered round as the violence spread. She fell back against a wall, scarcely able to stand and stared hypnotically at the conflict before her, unable to comprehend it, unable to take her eyes from it.
There was violence that day too, that day in Judea when they first saw Jesus in the Temple where the money changers plied their trade. There was always a foul air about them she thought, the cloud of discontent which they breathed out as they took advantage of one group or another. On this day they exploited the Jews who had to buy their silver coins to pay the temple tax. The Temple tax gave the money changers a monopoly which is used to bleed the market for all that it would bear. Eventually the poorest Jews became desperate and then angry and they raised their voices, when they had to give over all of their possessions to the money changers, for which to pay the temple tax.
She remembered how suddenly, Spurio took action, turning over their tables and letting their coins spread around. Then he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! How dare you turn this temple into a market!”
Spurio was a giant who towered over all men there in the market, in all of Judea. She felt proud and righteous watching her strong, good husband doing the right thing. And it was the right thing, what could be more right, what else could a right thing be. That was when everything that she thought she knew about right and wrong changed, that was when Jesus came.
Absorbed in the actions of her husband she didn’t notice another man of slight build who was also watching until that man had walked over to where her husband was scattering the coins and driving both the sheep and the cattle from the Temple. She could see him then, but could not hear him. But whatever he said to her husband it stopped him there like a stone statue. Then in what seemed like the longest second later for reasons Lucilla couldn’t understand Spurio let the money changer’s coin box slip out of his large grasp and fall with a clunk to the temple’s stone floor. That was the first that she had laid eyes upon Jesus, the only time she had seen her husband do violence. But that violence was nothing like this, nothing that she had ever known was like this.
She was at pit level now, the clanging of slaves in their shackles, grunting gladiators clashing, and from down the long corridor beneath the seats she could hear the anguished sounds of men in pain. In her heart, there raised the sickening certainty that somewhere down there, her husband languished in agony. She wrapped her slender fingers around the bars that separated her from the long corridor, which separated her from her husband. She struggled to peer into the darkness and around the corner to glimpse a piece of Spurio, or isolate a fragment of his agonizing cries from the ensemble, the vain attempt making her heartbreak even more bitter. She remained there, hopeful and heartbroken, until there were no more slaves clanging in the shackles, until the sounds of men suffering subsided, until the day waned and she finally realized her husband was no longer down there, there was no one else down there. She was alone.
Pensively she left the arena, and walked alone down the cobblestone street. It was nearly dark now, but all of Rome seemed to be out, still intoxicated by wine and blood of the games that ended hours ago. There were more faceless people to not look at, and more lusting men to not see. She paid less attention to the outside world than she did even her own body, which was now she was vaguely aware hungry for not having eaten in more than a day. Nothing else registered until the street opened into a large courtyard, the far side of which was a wedding. She remembered instantly her own wedding Spurio.
Spurio was all that Lucilla ever wanted from the second she first laid eyes on him. Her mother told her that when she loved the man at first sight it meant that she had loved him before in other lifetimes. That may be true she thought, but it was not so easy to gain his love in this lifetime. So, it was that on her wedding night she savored her prize, the greatest prize in all of Judea, the handsome and wealthy Spurio Pompei. He was a prize worth fighting for now she had won him. Oddly though there was no competition, she had come to wonder. Indeed there was a moment a very short time where she actually thought the impossible was real, and that he cared not for her. Their early courtship was a series of prearranged accidental meetings at the market or in the Temple. And even after he noticed her and courted her it was too long it seemed before at long last he married her.
But then it did seem to have been worth it especially when he came towards her on their wedding night. All of her fears and doubts washed away by delicious mingling of wine and the mixed juices of their lovemaking which lasted until the morning. And as the sun rose that day it rose on new, on a deeper level of her love for him than even she could fathom. Before Jesus, in spite of herself, Spurio made her deliriously joyful.
And while she never doubted his love for her and despite her joyful delirium, she did doubt her place with him. She sensed that she would always be second, but second to what for whom. It was a subtle, subconscious doubting that she was not wholly aware of. It gnawed at her, unseen. Spurio was a man in search of something other than her, in search of what he knew not. But when she saw Jesus standing there with him, she knew that Spurio had found exactly that which he was unaware that he sought.
The time with him before their wedding was as labor before childbirth, horrible but would be instantly forgotten as soon as a new child is brought into the world. The time after Jesus was like a mother whose child is snatched up suddenly by death. Now consumed in the agony of missing him, it was as though he made her life unbearable. And yet she would have to bear it until Spurio could win one more match, if he could win one more match. She looked away from the wedding and making her sorrowfully way down the narrow street alone, and got lost.
She had taken the wrong road by which to leave the courtyard and didn’t notice until it was well past dark, didn’t notice it until the Romans nearly ran her down. Immersed in her sorrows she couldn’t hear the horses galloping down the narrow cobblestone. But as she entered into the crossway, they appeared as if instantaneously. She leapt back but not in time to avoid a violent encounter with the hairy front shoulder of the onrushing beast. It spun her around in midair threw her hard to the cobblestone on her hands and knees. The second rider cursed at her as he rushed past. She crawled away as best as she could, but it was slow it was the most physical pain she’d ever experienced in her life. Her knees were black and blue in her palms were bleeding. She leaned back against the wall curled her legs up like a child and cried. She cried not the deep sobs of anguish, but the gentle ones of despair. Sitting there, knowing not what to do she shut her eyes hard, as if trying to awaken from a nightmare. As though she would open them and be safe in bed beside her big gentle husband. Instead she opened her eyes she saw that her palms were bleeding.
She waited there, waited for the bleeding to stop, waited for the pain to subside. But just like waiting for the return of Spurio, it was hopeless. When the rain began falling she got up to find her way home.
By the time Lucilla entered the apartment that Vettius had provisioned for her, she was drenched in cold. Roma, was the center of the world, the hub to which all roads lead, but here in her dark apartment on the top floor corner of a stone building Rome, disappeared and the anguish of her broken heart was all she had fill the emptiness. She walked past the fireplace, which she had never seen burn to light a candle on the bedside. She hesitated at the edge of the bed, staring as if not sure what to do, as one would test the temperature before entering a bath. Gradually, ineptly she curled her tiny body into its center and stared blankly at the flickering shadows in the room.
The last time she could remember curled up in bed like this, it was with her husband’s big, safe body behind her. She remembered gently caressing the hairs on his arm about her waist, and feeling is comforted by his presence as she was frustrated by Jesus’ message. “I try, I try” she explained,” but try as I might, I can’t get it, I can’t understand. Jesus is the tiny mad idea”. Then her husband, as though he were moving a pillow, effortlessly turned her to her back, brushed the hair away from her cheek, “you will, you will” he said in a tone that was as gentle as any she had ever heard, and then she looked up, catching his eyes, that revealed a certainty, and the seriousness that his voice did not. That view of Spurio she’d had a thousand times, had it burned into memory. His dark eyes were white, with tapered brows riding a finely sculptured ridge that balanced a nose of the gentle Hebrew variety. He was the one who understood Jesus better than anyone. And then they made tender love. She didn’t care one bit about Jesus, but oh god, how she needed Spurio now. But on this night she wasn’t reassured, nor did she make love to her husband, Lucilla was just beginning to learn to hurt.
But for one who had hurt for so long, Lucilla still had much to hurt about.

%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%% Begin Jesus %%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%
Just as in the beginning of the universe, there was not a soul to see it. What began as just a tiny eddy barely able to stir the dust in the desert outside of Cairo, became a vortex that carried the burning sand to the sea, there it turned to clay and then stone until finally the stone to living bone. The spirit made the body seem real. By the time the body was first seen by John who was baptizing on the east bank of the Jordan River it had walked thousands of miles under a scorching sun and freezing night without water or warmth or the need for either. When John looked up and saw Jesus standing on the bank he knew instantly that this was the light that he had in searching for had found him instead.
John a self-righteous man had heard many confessions and done many baptisms by then, saying “confess your sins and God will forgive them.” But John the Baptist believed in sin and so he condemned it. He had no idea what true forgiveness really was or that sin was not at all. John watched as Jesus stepped into the water and came towards him. “Lord I cannot hear your confession as you have none to make,” John said. “Nor does any of us,” said Jesus. Then Jesus took John’s hands and put them on his head and went under the water. When he came up again, John understood that he did not understand. Jesus smiled and he watched as Jesus walked out of the river and up the bank, then out of sight, leaving John with the peace of God which he had never experienced before. But it was the last time that John the Baptist walked out of the river Jordan, nor did he ever baptize again.
Jesus went on to Nazareth to find Mary and Joseph who had lost their only son during the slaughter of King Herod more than 30 years before. They had remained childless since, unable to have children, living still in the insufferable sadness of what could have been, and the crushing guilt for not stopping that which could not have prevented.
When word reached her of King Herod’s mass execution order she took up her son and fled into the sparse woods outside of Nazareth. She hid there for two days. Heat and cold. She ignored the raging thirst in her own mouth could not ignore the suffering of her child. She had to get him water or he would die. So, she put the child in a basket and carried it boldly back into the city, to the water well. There were two Romans on horseback in the street and as the child lay silently in the basket she began to draw the water. Then a horrible realization came over her, that she had brought no jar to carry the water away with. So, she had to expose the child to the light in order to let him drink. It was a fatal mistake. Two Roman soldiers with their swords and cloaks already bloodied from prior hours of infanticide closed in swiftly. She clutched the child desperately to her breast, but one of the soldiers violently straightened her arms and the child fell from held them. Miraculously she caught him in the air and fell back hitting her head hard against the well with the child in her lap. The soldier, as though he were standing at a leaf on the ground in order to pick it up thrust his sword at her child.
The blade skewered her left arm went through the child’s heart and didn’t stop until it had cut her through the womb . The last thing that Mary remembered before she fell to the dirt was the faint sound of a limp child splashing into the water far below. She should have died there, instead the deep gouge through her womb barren.
Since she’d never seen the child actually be killed it was easy to pretend that some miracle had occurred. That she had not heard a dead infant splash into the water. Over the years she told herself this till she almost believed it was true. But she never drew another drop from that well.
Joseph suffered from a far more pernicious of self-attack, he blamed himself for not having been there when the Romans attacked his wife and son. But it was Joseph who drew the Romans away in the first place. It was he who hid a bundle under his coat and ran off in the other direction to draw the soldiers. It worked. When the soldiers discovered that it was aught but a log that he concealed from them they beat him within an inch of his life and that beating gave his wife and child time to get away. But the world, this world, takes away everything eventually.
Jesus felt their deep pain and was moved. He was still in Galilee when he told Mary that she would soon see him. She in turn told her husband Joseph that “our son is coming home.” She did not have to explain it to him. They decided to prepare a feast.
Jesus was followed there by Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Him.” These then were the 12 disciples.

When Mary and Joseph saw their son for the first time they recognized him instantly, it was as though he had simply left for a while and now was returning. Jesus had many ways of easing peoples anguish. For Joseph and Mary he used the simplest, he let them no longer think about what had happened. Whenever he did this it always worked. For as Jesus himself explained, “nothing in the past can hurt you now.” Jesus did not remove the memory of what had happened, he simply removed the parents habit of thinking about it at all. Being in such pain made them willing enough for, Jesus to give Mary and Joseph a gift which others would have to earn, the gift of now. To them nothing of the past was forgotten nor the future hidden, but for the once grieving parents rest of their days when were lived fully in the joy of the only instant that really existed, the instant which is now. For Jesus who was remembering a body remembered too the myriad of methods the human mind had to attack itself.
At the feast Mary and Joseph were in such bliss that they didn’t even notice when the wine had given out, but one of Jesus’s disciples did and said to him, “the wine has run out.” “What am I to do about this,” Jesus said? Then Jesus smiled and got up.
The Jews have strict rules about ritual washing. So, there were six large water jars there, each one large enough to hold between 20 and 30 gallons. “Fill these jars with water,” Jesus said to his disciples and they did it. When they were done Jesus paused for a second and then said, “Draw out the water and give it to the people.” They did and to their astonishment the water had turned to wine. The other guests did not see this but remarked it was the most delicious wine they had ever tasted. Not only the disciples, but a beautiful young girl named Mary Magdalene had seen this. They were all amazed especially Mary Magdalene.
In those days there was great hatred toward the money changers. For they controlled all the wealth from Judea all the way to Capernaum. It was the money changers who told Caiaphas to turn the Temple into a marketplace and he made it so.

A few days later, in time for the Passover Jesus and his disciples and Mary Magdalene traveled to Jerusalem. They entered the Temple there to a raucous and great commotion. When they moved close enough to the noise Jesus could see a huge man, the biggest man he had ever seen, who had made whip of chords and was chasing the animals away. Also had overturned the tables of the money changers and scattered their coins on the Temple floor. His disciples tried to persuade him out of it, but Jesus walked right up to the big man stopped a few feet away and waited. When the big man did notice him Jesus said to him, “Spurio my Brother, what are you doing there?”
%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%% Begin Jesus and Spurio %%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%
Mighty Spurio was so disarmed by the tiny Jesus that he froze in place, going at once from fearsome to comical. But he stammered and stopped there for seconds not because the words wouldn’t come, but because staring into the eyes of Jesus he remembered something that all save for Jesus had forgot. In a holy instant Spurio forgot about all symbols, words, his body, and symbols of symbols, but remembered the peace of God instead. It was a peace that he more remembered than discovered, but once remembered was known almost in full. So, despite the awkward outward appearances, Spurio was in that second far more enlightened than confused.
Jesus knew that Spurio believed himself to be a righteous man acting in a righteous manner, but just as John the Baptist he was confused about what righteousness was. Namely that there was no such thing. Jesus was aware of the man’s wife his wife scrutinizing himself as well as he was aware that there was much more to the big man then just his size.
Then the Jewish authorities appeared and wanted to seize Spurio who had said this is a temple, but you have turned it into a den of thieves. The Jewish authorities demanded that Spurio perform a miracle to prove that he had the right to do such a thing. But it was Jesus who answered them reciting the Scripture which said, “My devotion to your house oh God Burns in me like a fire.” The Jewish authorities looked at Jesus for a long time, then said amongst themselves, “Who is this man who recites our Scripture?” Then they looked at Spurio, but walked away without laying hand upon him. Spurio relaxed now, stood looking at them until Jesus put his hand on his shoulder. Then Spurio turned to see Jesus smiling up at him and smiled back down at him.
“How do you know my name”, Spurio asked Jesus. “I have not known you before, nor have you known me.” Then Jesus squeezed Spurio’s shoulder and answered him saying “Ah Spurio Pompei, you are a good man who wanted to be a physician, but for his father’s sake became a merchant instead. You who wanted to heal now give away your wealth and fight injustice wherever you see it.” Jesus walked away from Spurio toward the steps the money changers had just fled. Then he turned and came back toward Spurio saying loud enough for everyone to hear, “You now heal the world, finding that which was wrong and putting it to right.” But when Jesus drew near to Spurio again he said so that only he could hear, and said,
—***”Great Spurio, don’t you know that for all your righteous might that you can save not one lonely lamb. And Spurio was amazed. Who was this man he wondered to himself who knows my deepest secrets. Jesus said these words to Spurio because he knew that Spurio was the only child of a wealthy merchant who wanted for his only son to be like he. Spurio did not know how this stranger meant what he said. What does he mean by you cannot save even a single sheep. Does he say that it my fault he wondered to himself. But as the man drew closer to Spurio he could see great compassion in his eyes. Latter Spurio would say that never seen such compassion in a man’s eyes, never before nor since. Then he heard him say, “ You were just a small boy, who could never have stood up to the dogs. You cannot bring him back any more than you could have saved it. Can you not forgive yourself for it. And I tell you the truth, that you can no more save the world now, the large powerful man that you are, than you could have that lonely sheep when you were just a small boy.”
Then Spurio’s large hands dropped to his sides and he remembered. He remembered that he was a small boy who would rise before the sun to attend his father’s flock. His father had a hired man who came to attend them after the sun was up. The hired man was paid, but Spurio’s only reward was to be with the flock. He loved them since the first time he’d seen one of them born. First there was one sheep, then there were two, how. From where comes the baby lambs, from where comes life, from where come the world itself? These questions Spurio asked himself as a child and a man, with no answer. To young Spurio it was just magic, the magic of life and he wanted to be in that magic for the rest of his life. So, he stayed with the sheep all that he could. The flock knew the hired man, but out on the rocky slopes of his father’s pasture they came to him, to the sound of his young voice for they trusted it. And it was out there where only stubby grass grew on the rocky terrain that it happened.
A pack of hungry wild dogs attacked the flock and separated one of the sheep from the rest of them. The hired man was able to take the flock back to the pen. But he was a hired man and he would not try to save the one that was lost. Spurio left the hired man and went after the pack. He could not see them for they were hidden behind a small hill over which is tiny body could not see. But he could hear the sound of many dogs barking and single sheep’s panicked crying. When his tiny legs had finally carried him there the dogs were already biting into blood and flesh. The sheep cried in anguish, but the dogs, one with a bite on its throat with not let go. Spurio did the only thing he could he struck out with his stick. He hit the one with its teeth upon the sheep’s throat. Then he was overtaken by fear and fled. But the dog let go of the sheep’s throat and chased Spurio down from behind in it him on the leg. Spurio tripped, and all the dogs mauled him. As he lay on his stomach his hands find his head he could hear the animals growling, he feel the hot air and blood on their breath until he passed out.
Many hours later Spurio woke up. Somehow he knew to crawl to the edge of the cliff. When he looked over he saw the bloodstained rock below where the dogs had finished off the sheep. The image was seared into his mind from that moment on. This is what Spurio remembered as he stared at the curious stranger coming closer to him, wondering how does this man know everything I have ever done. When Jesus got close he put his hand Spurio’s shoulder and said, “Spurio my brother, forgive yourself or you will try to save that same sheep for the rest of your days”. This only Spurio could hear. %%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%
Now a larger crowd gathered around them and was filled with much agitation and discussion. ”Who is this man,” they demanded of one another. But no answer was to be provided there so they asked Jesus, “Who are you? ” Then one of them said, “Spurio was chasing the money changers from the Temple, but you said to him let them be.” And they accused Jesus of defending the money changers.
“I tell you what I told him, Judge them not, for they have harmed no one.”
Angered the crowd drew near to Jesus the disciples and Mary gathered around. Lucilla also came near to Spurio. The crowd was loud and accusatory, but they did quiet down and demanded of Jesus that he explain himself. So, Jesus did. As Jesus was waiting to speak, Lucilla was still sizing him up.
“But they (the money changers) are stealing from the poorest Jews, on their holiest ground, no less”, they replied. “They are evil”, others persisted. And now the fury was directed at the slender stranger. But Jesus gently corrected that no one is good or evil and that nobody could possibly be victimizing anybody, saying:
“I tell you the truth that everyone acts in service of their own perceived needs. Everyone acts selfishly. The money changers, attempting to maximize their profit on every single coin, as were the poorest Jews attempting to pay as little as possible, for each coin. To each his motives are moral, but each acted so that need his needs would be met first, each acted equally selfishly in service of those needs. And we each act equally selfishly, we each act completely selfish in the service of our needs. Even the martyr is totally selfish; there is nothing else that he can be.”
The point of view of Jesus was unexpected and unacceptable to all save for Spurio. Lucilla was especially critical Jesus because he could not understand that he had not acted in defense of the despicable money changers, it simply had not judge them. But even amongst the disciples themselves and Mary Magdalene it was Spurio who would struggle most to understand that good and bad were only what we called it.
And Spurio had more shocks in store for his wife, inviting Jesus and his disciples, and Mary to stay with them. “Please, you and your friends come and stay with me at my house, for I am a wealthy man and I have room enough for all of you.” Upon hearing this Lucilla jumped quietly out of her skin. But Spurio had not consulted her so, Jesus the disciples and Mary went and stayed there a while.
The idea of spending the night with these strangers and Jesus repulsed her. If asked she could not have said why, indeed she never pondered the question. But she had judged Jesus as a defender of the money changers and anything to do with him from then on was refracted through the lens of that judgment. That was exactly what Jesus was going to tell her, though she would not hear it. But Lucilla only thought that she was repulsed by the thought of Jesus and his disciples spending the night under her roof, she had no idea that she was truly threatened by Jesus, threatened because Spurio’s attention to him detracted from his attention toward her. But Lucilla a lot to learn about what a true distraction Jesus was going to be.
Spurio felt the gentle breeze wrap around his legs and watched it ruffle the cloth on the table with Jesus was drinking wine. He had learned by now that Jesus had turned the water into wine in Cana in Galilee. Spurio was not surprised that Jesus could perform miracles, for the slender stranger had told him everything that he had ever done. But he had provided a dinner in which the wine would not run out, for he knew that Jesus had not come here to perform miracles or magic. He had come to teach what a miracle really was. Yet to see and hear Jesus with the eyes and ears of the body could only be misleading he thought. Spurio realized early on that if you could understand Jesus at all, then it must be with the mind.
For Jesus was the answer to every question, to receive one just had to ask. Jesus was constantly trying to get through, one simply had to let him. Just now Spurio was attempting to do precisely that. Oddly he felt himself unable to think of a thought about which to ask the question. He was distracted slightly by children who had been playing at a distance but now drew closer to the adults.
Yet as he struggled for the question which eluded him, it was a small child who provided the question to the answer. It was in fact the answer from which all other answers sprang, the only question that need been asked, the only answer there really was. From a child, Lucilla’s young niece came the question about creation. For no seeming reason she asked, “Jesus where do we come from?” As Jesus began to answer Spurio could never have believed how different he would be when he was done. Spurio was familiar with the law as given by Moses and interpreted by the chief priests and the Pharisees. But until now he had never heard anyone speak with such a power, on that question. Before now no one had ever said where the world comes from, and more importantly why.
%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%% begin the tiny mad idea %%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%
The law says “In the beginning”, but there is no beginning or end or now, there is only Always. Always is forever and God is everything. The Son of Man was Always in heaven, in a state of eternal bliss and in perfect oneness with God. The oneness was so perfect that there was no place where one began or the other ended, oneness so perfect you could have no thought that was not thought of God, you could not imagine anything that was not God. There was no difference save one, that the Father is first cause, He created the Son. Yet was no thought of separation, you were one with God who created you. We are not separate from God, we are not part of God, each and everyone of us is God. God is everywhere and everything and we simply say God Is.
Then into the mind of the Son there crept a sick insane idea. The idea was silly because it was not of God, but the Son of Man remembered not to laugh. The idea, was, what would it be like to be apart from God? The Son waited for God to answer, but He didn’t. It was a sick insane idea because there is no such thing as separate from God. So, God not willing to make that which was unreal appear real, did not answer. The non-answer from God to the non-question, The Son mistook as rebuke. You now mistakenly believe that God is angry with you for your sick insane idea, your original sin. For his imagined sin, The Son expects real retribution.
leaving him, this is original sin, for which all mankind feels deep, subconscious, abiding guilt and expects severe and merciless retribution for a crime that never was. The Son of Man becomes the prodigal son.
This is where Satan comes in and says, “I’ll help you, I’ll show you a place to hide” Satin is not a demon or a devil, Satan is not real, rather is just trick of the mind. Satin is the part of your mind that makes up and protects the illusion of separation from God. Satan makes the illusion seem real. Then the Son of Man, terrified, running scared from an angry pursuer that doesn’t exist, actually makes a deal with the devil himself. It is Satan, the Satanic part of the mind of the Son of Man that made the world seem to exist for him to hide himself from God. That is how the world came into being. How silly, could the Son really hide from God? But burdened by original sin and mistaken guilt the Son of Man sold his soul to Satan to deny the reality that God is.
To protect the mad dream Satan must preoccupy Son of Man with more illusions. So, the false world that we fill with cruelty, inhumanity and bloody wars, with friends and enemies, with money changers and Romans. All of them, all ought but distraction. So terrified is the Son of the Father that he runs to the devil to hide.
So, all the world all that you think you see with the eyes of the body comes from but a mind turned inside out and spilled onto a world outside of itself. A world outside of everything that’s real. A world outside of God in Heaven. A world that is nothing but a dream that we but make real with judgment.
The Son of Man is asleep and heaven dreaming the dreams of separation. Each lifetime you think you live in this world but a nightmare to a dreamer in heaven. To awaken from the dreams the Son must learn forgiveness. Not the kind of forgiveness that the world knows, but true forgiveness that knows the world is not. But it takes many dreams of many lifetimes to train the mind to ignore Evil and listen to only the Holy Spirit. And in the myriad of dreams and lifetimes in the multitude forums of joy and horror they bring, at one time or another we each play the others part, we are each master and slave, we are each predator and prey, we are each everything there is to be many millions of times over. The father has sent me to gently wake the Son from his dream, to ease his burden, to reduce the number of his nightmares, to free the master from the slave, and I have already done it. I have already undone all that was never done. But follow or ignore the word makes no difference, everyone wakes up, everyone makes it out, everyone already has. “
Wake to make it out of the dream. As Spurio seized on those words, on the symbol those words represented, he felt a burgeoning sense of purpose, and wondered openly if he could wake to make it out of his dream, and make it out this time.
%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%% end tiny mad idea %%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%

Spurio never asked Jesus if he could follow him. He just assumed that he could, and he could. But Lucilla was stunned when he told her. She fell and had to catch herself on the table, and Spurio had to help her into the chair. Such a little girl he thought as she sat legs together hands twisting and writhing on her knees as she gently she gently sobbed. “It’s not as though you never see me again,” he said taking her tiny hands in his. He was as miffed by her severe reaction as she was by his desire to leave her. She tried to be angry with him, but when she looked up she could do aught but put her slender arms around his neck. He picked her up from there carried her gently to bed.
Spurio was patient with Lucilla as she protested with all her might. But there was no way to stop him. Spurio was leaving with Jesus no matter what the costs or consequences. And even had he known then just what those consequences would be, still Spurio would have followed Jesus.
The following morning Nicodemus came to visit Jesus. Nicodemus was a money changer. He had not fled when Spurio came through the market and heard Jesus speak. He came inside where Jesus was resting from the heat of the day and spoke alone to him. “Jesus we know that you are a spiritual man and speak the truth,” Nicodemus began. “We want to help you spread the truth all across Judea,” he continued. But Jesus perceived his treachery and interrupted him saying, “Nicodemus I do not judge usury, nor do I sanction it.” Then Jesus stood up and put his arm on Nicodemus shoulder and asked him, “Nicodemus was good does it do a man to gain the world and yet remain in it. Profit and loss are simply opposite sides of the scarcity coin designed keep the attention of the Son of Man on worldly things instead of the infinite treasures in heaven where no one has any need of scarcity or want.” But Nicodemus persisted saying, “Jesus we have not just wealth, but influence. Influence with the Jewish authorities and the Roman ones. We can do all manner of things to get our way.” Then Jesus stepped back from Nicodemus and looking him directly in the I said, “I am aware of all that you think you can do to me. You may to all manner of things to my body, but you cannot touch me for I am not a body. You can cause me no pain for the guiltless mind cannot suffer. Yet must you try, yet must it be done.” Nicodemus has caused much suffering in his life yet never felt remorse once. But just now he did feel pity for Jesus, for what he would do to Jesus.
Spurio watched Nicodemus leaving his house. He walked in quickly and found Jesus. He knew what Nicodemus wanted, but Jesus said with a light heart, “Worry not big man for nothing is being done only undone.”

%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%% End Jesus and Spurio %%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%
The next morning Jesus, his disciples, Mary Magdalene, and Spurio left Jerusalem. Jesus had been asked to return to Cana in Galilee, where he had turned the water and wine. The people there remembered how he had turned the water into wine and wondered if he would try to heal a young girl sick possessed with demons. “Jesus,” protested Thomas. “It will take too long. By the time we get to Galilee the girl will be dead.” But Jesus smiling replied, “Have faith Thomas and she will be healed in this very moment.” And just as Jesus said that the young girl’s demons left her. And there was great joy among them as well for they believed and knew that she had been saved.
Later, along the way a Roman centurion with his men coming from Jerusalem approached them rapidly on horseback. He was oblivious to Jesus’s miraculous ability to cure, he was there to seize Jesus at the behest of Nicodemus the money changer. Spurio counted 20 mounted soldiers as they circled threateningly Jesus and his followers. The disciples and Mary were frightened and moved towards Jesus to protect him, but as Spurio anticipated Jesus brushed them side. Spurio was calm, he had already seen Jesus perform miracles, he already knew that nothing could happen lest Jesus let it happen. And so it was that when two soldiers put their hands on Jesus they stopped just before touching him. The horses stopped the dust stopped everything came to a dead still. And Jesus looking up at the captain said to him. “You are captain Aurelius Dalmaticus Marcellus, you act in service of the money changers, but you distrust them. So, why then do you do their work?” With that the soldiers stepped back from Jesus. And the captain was amazed, but when Jesus told him, “Your young son is afflicted with the fever,” the captain nearly fainted. “Go home and attend your son and leave the work of the money changers to the money changers.” With that the man dismounted and came towards Jesus. When he got close Jesus put his arm around the man’s shoulder looked him seriously in the eye and asked, “Do you believe I can do this?” Without delay the man said, “command me and I shall do it.” Then Jesus looked at the man smiling and said, “By your faith at this very moment your son is saved. ” The captain wept at Jesus’s feet, but Jesus lifted him up and told him to go.
Later that day they entered a town, and Jesus tired out by the trip sat on a wall, while the disciples went ahead of him. Spurio, who walked slower than them because of his huge size came up to Jesus and sat next to him. Jesus rested his hands on the top of the wall while his feet dangled off the ground, but Spurio more leaning than sitting, was too tall to get his feet off the ground. Spurio looking at the dirt cupped his hands and was about to speak when Jesus said, “did you walk these past miles frightened by the threats of the money changers?” Spurio smiled, he was not surprised that Jesus could perceive his thoughts. Then Spurio said, “my father was a wealthy and powerful man. He was unafraid of the Pharisees or the chief priests. But my father always feared the money changers.” Jesus put his hand on Spurio’s big shoulder and with a squeeze said, “Spurio you who wanted to be a doctor a healer, you are so close Spurio. You might just make it this time, but you still have an important lesson to learn, that you cannot save the world, not even yourself.” Then Jesus came down off the wall and went toward his disciples. They being led by Mary Magdalene with a bucket of water were coming towards Jesus. They reunited as though they had been separated from him for year rather than just a few minutes. Jesus stroked the side of Mary’s face and then hugged her before he drank. Then he touched all the disciples as they gathered round, on the arm or the shoulder or even the top of the head. Spurio noticed that Jesus had done it to him too. It was Jesus’s way of saying, I acknowledge you even though I am not looking at you speak directly to you right now. Spurio was not trying to fit into this group, but slowly stealthily they were growing on him. They were becoming part of what Jesus would call each other’s special relationships. Part of an especially dangerous trap.
Then they left that town and as the evening drew on found themselves at last in the cool dork aloneness of the desert. Spurio was tired, his big legs had carried his large body far and it felt good to rest them as he leaned back against a stone. He fell asleep briefly and when he had waken Jesus had just returned with his arms full of logs. He dropped them into a pile and then knelt on the ground and started putting them one at a time into the fire. Spurio didn’t exactly notice when it got completely dark or when Jesus was all he could see. He didn’t notice when Jesus went from chit chatting about when we would arrive, to teaching about healing. He didn’t even notice, that he didn’t notice the weariness in his legs any longer. All he noticed was what they all notice, was how Jesus became so much bigger when he was teaching, how they were completely absorbed in the now with Jesus, and each felt that he was speaking only to them, Spurio was sure of it. “When you are healing,” Jesus began, “remember this.
The acceptance of sickness as a decision of the mind, for any purpose for which it would use the body, is the basis of healing. And this is so for healing in all forms.” ACIM
“Notice that before I heal them I ask, do you have faith and I can do this? Then after I heal them I say by your faith I have cured thee. Who then is the physician?”
On the next day they arrived at Joseph and Mary’s house. They were the agonized parents who Jesus healed by returning them to their natural state, their true state of bliss. It was there that Jesus performed his first miracle of turning the water into wine to celebrate his becoming their son. This time he would create a feast to celebrate his marriage to Mary Magdalene.
Jesus did not wed Mary Magdalene in a way that the world understood. The ceremony took place when she anointed his feet with oil. Spurio was outside when he noticed the sweetest scent of perfume oil he had ever smelled. It floated out from the window and drew Spurio irresistibly inside. When Spurio Wednesday and he saw Mary Magdalene ever said caressing Jesus’s feet with her hands. Then she if put the end of her long beautiful hair into the oil and anointed his feet. None of them there realized that from that moment on Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married. This made Joseph and Mary extremely joyous.

Judgment is what the mind made to separate us from other brothers and sisters and to create a different experience that is not true. To make real what is not real but I say, nothing real can be taken down, nothing unreal exists. Herein lies the peace of God.
different experience that is not true.
Judgment, coming from the mind, also turns within and attacks us, creating self-hate and unworthiness.
Instead of judging ourselves for having sick thoughts, realize it is just sickness, and turn to the love of Jesus in faith to show him your sick thoughts.
They may come up more often when you have decided to allow Jesus to do this healing work. Do not judge self.
%%%%%%%%%%%%% Jesus and Spurio on the open sea %%%%%%%%%%%%
After the wedding Jesus stayed in Cana for three days. Then he and his new bride and the disciples, and Spurio left Cana and went to Haifa. There they boarded a large boat to Sidron. For there was a great feud in that land and Jesus said he would go there to try to end it. When they left land it being in the middle of the day the single sail filled up fast in the afternoon heat. The mood was lighthearted. They were all happy to be done walking and alone together on their little island in the sea. Jesus and Mary danced on the foredeck while Thomas and Peter fished with nets off the rear deck. Everyone laughed when Thomas caught one. As he showed it to them flapping around in his hands they said, “don’t you see we have the greatest fishermen in the world right here and pointed to Jesus. Don’t you remember how he turned four fish into 4000. So, laughing Thomas through the fish back into the sea.
Spurio relished in and shared mutual joy of the moment, even as they teased him mercilessly for his ungainly bulk which could find no comfortable place to rest. The boat seemed much too small for him. Also after about an hour had passed he was becoming visibly sick. This was the reason, rather than his size, that Spurio stayed out of boats most of the time. Some of the disciples remarked that, if Jesus wanted to perform a real miracle then he should cure Spurio of his seasickness. But Spurio focusing his site back on the land said, “there is no need to annoy Jesus with little things, I will cure myself”. They all laughed again.
Jesus sat down and leaning back against some barrels offered to help Spurio. But Spurio waving his hand and said, “I am fine.” With that Mary Magdalene sat down in front of Jesus and he put his arms around her as she leaned back into him. Spurio lay down on his side of prop himself up with his right elbow, at the rear of the boat. From there he was both a watcher and a participant of the goings-on on the little island in the sea. Now what he wanted to was to observe his thoughts in the same way. He saw Mary Magdalene curl up and lean sideways into Jesus as he stretched out completely on the deck. He fell asleep to the rocking of the ocean and the raucous sound emanating from the pure joy of being with one another, of being with Jesus.
Spurio woke under a canopy of cacophonous colors that came all the way down to the water in 360°. The waves upon the sea seemed to be reflected in strips of clouds across the sky, bathed in orange and purple. And as the sun settle down somewhere in the West a blood red moon was rising, filling the eastern sky. Jesus, Peter and Mary Magdalene were cooking fish on the fore deck, the sent wafted back and deliciously tickled Spurio’s senses. Everyone woke and ate. The dinner was delicious.
When he was finished Spurio went to just behind the mass. It was dark by then, but the moon illuminated a huge swath of the sea and it seemed that their boat was flying on it like a cloud. Spurio looked to the east and was astounded. Where was the land? For all his worldliness Spurio had never been on the open sea away from land. It was amazing. The immense expanse of emptiness defeated his imagination. Lost in its awesomeness he was unaware of the goings-on in the boat, it took him a while to notice Jesus standing beside him. Jesus was looking up smiling, “you have never seen anything so grand have you Spurio,?” “Ha ha, drink it all in the entire experience Spurio, for the next time you see this shall not be half so grand. Nor half as much again the time after that.” Now it was Jesus that Spurio studied intently, wondering what could he mean by that. Jesus perceived his confusion and answered saying, “the grand new vista or experience is an example where the mind has no prior experience with which to compare. The mad mind searches the past frantically for reference with which it can explain the present experience which it cannot. The awestruck mind is speechless. You think that you are awestruck by something outside of you, yet it comes from aught but within you, and splashes on to the outside world like dye into the water. Just like the sunset at which you marveled earlier it is unreal. At times like this evil is speechless and unreality may be perceived. It is at times like this that the Holy Spirit can come in. But evil is quick, evil must have you believe that the world is real. So, the next time you have the experience, just beneath the surface of your cognizance evil lurks and replaces the second experience with memories of the first. This could keep real what is unreal and the Holy Spirit out.”
Spurio looked back up at the sky, then out to the sea, and finally back at Jesus, trying to take it all in. But before he could even get started Jesus gave him even more, saying, “And even the next time is an illusion just like tomorrow and yesterday Spurio. When the mind thinks about yesterday or tomorrow if thinks about that which does not exist. And when the mind thinks about what it thinks is now, it considers that which has no beginning and no and no between. So, it does not think at all. But the greatest illusion the mind is under, is that it thinks that it thinks at all.”
Jesus perceiving Spurio’s confusion yet added to it again. “There is no yesterday today nor tomorrow nor even this very moment, there is only always and the difference between always and now is everything.”
Spurio was no longer thinking about what Jesus saying, for it was too much for him all at once. Instead an odd thought came into his mind and it occurred to him that Jesus must have been alone with him for quite some time now and the rest of the disciples and Mary Magdalene would soon be coming to him. But when Spurio looked toward the bow of the boat he noticed that nothing had changed since Jesus had come to him. Even the moon had not climbed in the sky nor had even the sail made a ruffle. The whole world saved for he and Jesus seemed frozen. “Don’t be afraid Spurio, I’m just trying to show you how what is now for them is not now for us because there is no now, there is only always.”

Then Jesus turned and went to his disciples at the bow leaving Spurio to stare in wonderment. Exhausted he sat and leaned against the bulkhead. He hugged his one knee and left the other straight out and looked up at the stars.

%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%% In Sidron %%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%
Jesus said, “ pay your taxes if you must, but do not levy them upon the Son of Man.”
Whenever any of us looks at the world we look at the world through our beliefs and our concept’s, there can be no exceptions. This is what happens when we observe the world through the eyes of the body and interpret with the mind that thinks it is a body. it is the mind of judgment.
The time is coming in and is already here when by the power of God’s Spirit
There was no one on the shore when they landed in Sidron just south of the Saida Citadel. Jesus led his disciples and Mary Magdalene, and Spurio inland to the place in the mountains where the tribes were at war.
The war between the tribes was not like the war of armies. The tribes came into each other’s villages and killed each other’s wives and children, destroyed each other’s crops and animals. They threatened not just each other’s lives, but everything the other held dearer than life.
As Spurio looked down upon the Village in the throes of a vicious attack he overheard Simon Peter plead with Jesus to “Please stop the carnage, you and heal the injured her, and bring the dead back to life.” But Jesus looked at Simon Peter and told him the same thing he told Spurio before. “You cannot save that which is not Simon Peter,” Jesus said. “This all of this is aught but distraction. It is the purpose of the Io to keep the Holy Spirit out. It is not by good deeds that you get to heaven, it is by judgment of any deed that keeps you out. No deed done in a false world can be real, but by your judgment you make it seem so. This is what you must all learn, not how to save the world rather how to forgive it and to forgive it with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit does not forgive as the world does. The world recognizes that one has done wrong to the other, that the wronged and the wrongdoer are separate and unequal. The wrongdoer acknowledges his guilt, and then the wronged will grant a pardon to the guilty one there by setting all that was wrong to right. But the Holy Spirit recognizes that no one is wronged, no one is guilty and that no one can done anything to anyone. Our bodies may do all manner of things to other bodies, but none of us is a body. Only when this truth is realized can true forgiveness begin, only when all forgiveness has been given can we awaken from the dream and make it back to Heaven.”
Spurio watched the disciples as they look questioningly amongst themselves. It was difficult for them to deny the seeming realness of the world. A world dressed up in all of its splendors and horrors to seize our attention, to seize us for all time. The Io can paint the world, but only we can Judge it to make it seem real. This is what Jesus was teaching. Then Jesus took the disciples and Mary Magdalene, and Spurio down to the village.
When they were in the village fighting was done, but the chaos remained. Jesus put his hand on the stomach of a young man dying from a sword which had stabbed him there. The young man grabbed Jesus his wrist as he did it but when Jesus pulled his hand away from the man’s side he was healed. A few of the people who saw this were amazed and they told others about it. Then Jesus walked to the dead body of one of the others had been killed by them. The limp body lay face first in the dirt with the club that had been used to kill him still buried in his skull. Jesus knelt, put his hands on the man’s head and in a moment the man got up and knew everything that had happened to him. Then the man tried to leave but those in the village wanted to seize him for he was one of the others. But Jesus knew their word and told them in their own language to let the man go so that he could return with his own leader so that they might make peace. Jesus pointed to the top of the hill between the two villages and told them after the sun does rise again we shall meet there. Then Jesus bade the man go. And even as the man was leaving Jesus was healing the injured and raising the dead.
Because he had saved so many of them Jesus now had great authority in that place. But one of their elders admonished Jesus for letting the enemy go. But Jesus said to him in his own words, “where were your men to protect the village by?” Jesus did not wait for an answer, but responded saying, “they were away attacking that the village. See not the spec in your brother’s eye until you remove the plank from thine own.”
When the sun had risen on the next day everyone from both villages climbed to the spot Jesus had pointed to. Each remained on the same side as their own village as Jesus and the disciples and Mary Magdalene and Spurio met the elders on the ridge line between the two. Spurio and the disciples studied Jesus and the goings-on, but understood it not. Jesus could speak all languages, they could not. But they all sensed great hatred between the tribes each for the other. If it were not that Jesus held great authority then surely he would be dead in the tribes locked in bloody conflict even at this moment.
They were all frustrated and fascinated over the several hours that Jesus worked a miracle seemingly greater than bringing the dead back to life. He was bringing peace to a region that had no none for the lifetimes of anyone there on the hill. But when all the elders threw down their swords and a pile and hugged, Spurio didn’t have to understand the intricacies of the language or the doctrine to realize that something amazing had happened. But Jesus said it was as natural as the sunrise.
On the hilly return to the coast the disciples and Spurio could not contain their curiosity. They implored Jesus to tell them how he had done what he had done. Jesus teach them saying, “I don’t know how I did it.” And he tapped Simon Peter on the four head as he said it. Everyone laughed. They walked and when it was dark made of fire in a hilly crevice and ate. Spurio could see the fire light Jesus’s face and the shadow of his head cast on the rock behind him. As always when Jesus began to talk nothing else seemed to matter.
“When you try to make peace always remember this. You deal with the world of dreams, and you deal with God. On the level of the world of dreams everybody acts feel a sense of lack. It’s just as with the money changers and the poor Jews in the Temple. Everyone is trying to satisfy their perceived needs, to fill a void. But in reality there is only one need, one for a test that need to be filled. And that is the loneliness the Son of Man feels because he thinks that he did the impossible and separated from God. It is the same sick insane idea of something that could never really be.”
Jesus looked back and forth at them as a member cracked and pop in the fire. “I spoke mostly with the chiefs and elders. I chose the chief form of one tribe and asked him ‘What do you want from them?’” Jesus said it as though he were pointing at someone reenacting the event. “He answered me saying, that man is a murderer, he murdered my son. I already knew that this was so, but I asked so that you might learn from his answer.” Then the disciples and Mary Magdalene looked around and questioned among themselves, “What can he mean by this?” But Spurio kept his eyes fixed directly on Jesus. “Notice that I asked, what do you want and received instead judgment and condemnation. So, I asked him again what do you want from this man? But he could not answer me. Do these men threaten you when they attack, do you need more security? You see, this was his need. You must go past judgment to perceived needs that are being threatened.
Then I asked the other chief the same question. What do you want of this man?” Jesus pointed to his other side still reenacting it. “They are dogs he told me. But what do you want from them? He could not answer me. Nor would he be able to answer me yet, for he was different from the first chief. His needs were different from the other chief.” They all looked at each other and Jesus, but Jesus looking at the ground shook his head then said, “You see this chief wanted nothing from the other chief. His needs could not be satisfied by the other tribe because he had no needs of them. His need stemmed from this false sense of worthiness to be chief. He was too young and too inexperienced in battle. His father a great warrior had died and he had become chief. In his own try he alone perceives his unworthiness. But he casts that unworthiness like paint upon a canvas onto his own tribe, and then attacks the other tried again and again for what it does not have, it cannot give, that he alone can give himself, through a simple shift in perspective. But now he sees himself through the eyes of the Holy Spirit, seeing himself as he Truly is, as we all truly are, the guiltless the Son of Man.
Again when you mediate conflict, he no attention to judgment, search for perceived lack and fill it. But even doing so realizing it too is illusion, for all lack as a result of a belief in the separation from God that never occurred.” This Jesus spoke to them regarding conflict.
They came the following day to rest in the shade of a large rock and there decided to eat. Spurio could smell the sea air, hidden by the hill to their west. On the other side the sloped gently to the sea. As they sat there Jesus said to them, “We return now to Jerusalem for the religious festival. There I will be taken up by the Romans at the behest of the money changers. And they will seemingly do all manner of things to me.” Spurio felt his stomach coming up through his throat and amongst the astonished disciples there was much agitated discussion. Mary Magdalene remained serene standing to Jesus’s side. Then Simon Peter rushed to Jesus saying, “No, no Jesus don’t go to the festival in Jerusalem, stay away from that place.” Then Jesus put his hand on Peter Simons head and said, “Get out of thee Satan.” Then Jesus turned to them all to say, “You yet lack the discipline so, I remind you that this is all a dream.” Jesus tugged at his arm as he said this. “It is important that you see this and that you forgive this as I have, which is with the eyes of the Holy Spirit. I forgive it realizing that it never happened. Though their bodies may crucify my body in the dream, in truth no one has done harm to anyone because no one is a body. This is the essence of true forgiveness.”
The mood of everybody save for Jesus was much different when they returned to the boat than it had been when they landed it. They had been gone for exactly 30 days and nothing about the world had changed, only their information about it. They each suffered now for separation that was about to come as though it had already happened. The anticipation making it seem real. Jesus reminded them that when the mind thinks about the future he thinks about that which is not and therefore nothing in the future could harm any of them now. But Spurio did not feel better. The same boat which had floated them merrily here seemed now to be a death ship.
They set sail in the late afternoon and Simon Peter sailed the boat directly east until they could see land no more before turning south towards Jerusalem. It became dark around then, but Spurio did not notice the full moon until it was almost straight up in the sky, did not notice it until the clouds came in to obscure it. Then he remembered what Jesus had told him that it would not seem half so grand the next time.
The storm moved in rapidly, the wind picked up and it grew cold. Jesus slept as the rest of them took down the sail threw up the tarps in the slanting rain. Spurio pulled a blanket around himself he thought about the future. The mind cannot think about that which isn’t. Therefore the mind doesn’t think about the future nor the past. And the now is so fleeting that the mind cannot grasp it either. So, there is only Always. That is what Jesus had said, but suddenly Always seemed so very fleeting. Jesus could so easily save himself. With his hand he could waive the Romans and the money changers into the sea. Why didn’t he do it? Spurio wanted to wake Jesus and beg him to do so just as Peter had. But to what end he questioned, merely to be rebuked.
But as Spurio deeply lamented over Jesus’s future, in the cold, as the rain dropped heavy into the hard canvas, a tiny idea of a different sort crept into his mind. It was an awareness of what Jesus wanted for them when he rebuked Simon Peter. It was something more important than the body of Christ, more important than all bodies altogether. Something more important than even happiness here in this world, it was that Jesus wants us to use this to practice our own forgiveness to get out of this world. Jesus was as indifferent to our happiness in this world as he was dedicated to our salvation. This Spurio realized as daylight came but not the sun through the clouds. Yet even as the storm intensified, the clouds did not block out the sun. Spurio lay his big body down on a bed of fishnet and slept.
He was awakened by Thaddeus when they disembarked at Yafo. Spurio looked around himself as he staggered out of the boat. To this see the clouds hung oppressively low to the horizon. To the east lies Jerusalem and somewhere between here and there Jesus would be taken up by the Romans at the behest of the money changers. Spurio felt his mind, he heard its voices. They told him, “You Are going to lose he and you love.” But Spurio neither obeyed nor resisted, neither did he listen to them. He did not notice when he could not hear them any longer. But the gray and melancholy that had seemed so oppressive just moments ago seemed now cool comfort and as he walked. It wasn’t a shift in perspective, but it was a single crucial step.
On the way to Jerusalem there came a man to them saying, “Are you the Christ whom we seek, or shall I ask another.” Jesus stopped walking but did not answer him. Then the man said, “I have a sister who is possessed and only the Christ can save her.” But Jesus perceived his treachery and answered him saying “Return to Nicodemus and tell him that you have found me.” So, the man turned to toward Jerusalem and ran there. To all of the disciples and Mary Magdalene and Spurio there came a grave fear. But Spurio as he had the night on the boat with neither accept nor deny his fear, he simply watched it.
When they came to Jerusalem it was on the day before the Passover festival. A man came to him and said, “You are Jesus the Christ, I saw you in the Temple which the money changers had turned into a market. Come, you and your friends to my home and we shall feast and drink wine.” So, Jesus, the disciples, Mary Magdalene and Spurio went with the man to supper.
%%%%%%%%%%%%%%% the Last Supper %%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%
Spurio observed Jesus and his disciples and Mary Magdalene at supper. He was across the room from them, much as he had been on the boat. As he listened to the mingling sounds of the supper he pondered his own significance here. Unlike the other 13 Jesus had not chosen him, rather he had chosen Jesus. But when Jesus so inclusive so uniting would have declined no one, why was he the only one to choose Jesus. He couldn’t understand his own question. He was not separate from the group, but more like the object by which the group could observe itself. He was as the third eye by which sees in totality what the other two eyes cannot. As Spurio observed he watched Jesus rise say these words: “Love one another, not as the world knows love which is to gain love in return, but as the Holy Spirit does is simply to love, as I have loved you love the world. The world will not love you in return, but you do not need its love. You need only to forgive the world as it is, as it is not there, this is the way out of the dream. All of you all of your sad suffering brothers and sisters, will make it. Some of you this time, some of you will make it another time, but the Son of Man will make it, there is aught else he can do, he already has made it for by the Grace of the Father the dream is already over. Yet the dream seems to live on until the Son of Man remembers this time to laugh at his own tiny mad idea.
Until then forgive the world and its trespasses. Remember we are all of us figments of a guilt ridden dream. Share many dreams and many lifetimes we are both man and woman, predator and prey, teacher and student and master and slave. But I am telling you the truth that the time will come and is already here that the predator no longer hungers for the prey, and the master is free from his slaves.
Nothing real can be threatened, nothing unreal exists – herein lies the peace of God .”
This is what Spurio learned from Jesus, that what is real is real not that which is perceived to be real. A cloud does not put out the sun.
But when Jesus told them that his time had come, despite all his teachings that the world was a meaningless dream a pal was cast across the entire room and into the soul of each and every one of them. Judas Iscariot openly wept. Jesus went to him slowly knelt across the table from him and put his hand on his head. Then he told Judas take the money bag and returned with some wine, some supplies for the festival, then to go and get a prostitute to ease his pain. So, Judas took the money bag and left.
After Judas lacked much sadness remained in the room. So, Jesus took the rest of them and went to the other side of Kidron Brook. There was a garden in that place and Jesus and the disciples and Mary Magdalene went in. Meanwhile Judas found the wine and the supplies for the festival and return with them to where they had the Last Supper. When he found no one there he became very sad. But instead of finding a prostitute as he had thought to do now he thought to find Jesus and be with him. He knew that Jesus would likely be at the garden by Kidron Brook because the disciples had met there with him many times. But with Judas did not know is that the man whom they had passed on the road to Jerusalem was following him. The man whose treachery Jesus had perceived sent someone to fetch Nicodemus and the Romans and they followed Judas to where Jesus was.
The Romans came upon Jesus and the disciples and Mary Magdalene, and Spurio in the garden. Before he even saw them Spurio knew exactly their purpose. Of its own accord his body stood up to block off the Romans from Jesus. But Spurio understood Jesus’s purpose and so he stepped aside to let Jesus come to the front. Pointing to Jesus Nicodemus said, “ That is him there seize him.” Whereupon Jesus still walking forward said, “I am Jesus Christ, if you are looking for him, then you have found me.” He paused and then turning to the others said, “Let these others go.” But Nicodemus remembered what Spurio had done to his money changers in the market and he said to the Romans, “Let then go all of him except that one there, the big one.” And then Spurio as did Jesus allowed himself to be seized and taken away by the Romans. Spurio watched the Romans as they led Jesus away. Jesus disappeared down the road and Spurio never saw Jesus again, ever. The last thing he heard was Judas wailing aloud again and again into the night. They were taking Jesus to be crucified, but they had much different plans for Spurio. And as his ever deepening sadness of missing Jesus mingled with lamentation of the agony he knew that he would endure Spurio still would have lamented just as much over his own, if he could’ve had any idea what it was. For where money changers and the Jewish authorities take prisoners, Romans take slaves.
First they took Jesus to Caiaphas the high priest that year. Caiaphas question Jesus about his teachings. Jesus said About those teachings:
That nothing, in this world, save God in Heaven is real. God Is, the rest is not. Everything that you see, and feel, and know is illusion, all the world is but a dream within a dream a million times over. Jesus had never been sent to the world to suffer and pay for the sins of mankind. For mankind had no sins to pay for. He had been sent instead to teach forgiveness and shorten the journey that we had each of us completed before it was begun.
Caiaphas laughed, but he found no quarrel with Jesus’s teachings for Jesus never said that he was Lord or a king. But Caiaphas and the Temple were also under the domain of the money changers for that is why he had turned the Temple into a market. So, Caiaphas sent Jesus still tied up to Pontius Pilate.
It was early in the morning when Jesus arrived at the palace of Pontius Pilate. The Jews themselves could not enter the palace of Pontius Pilate for they wanted to keep themselves ritually pure so that they might eat the Passover meal that day. So, Pontius Pilate when out to them and asked, “What do you accuse this man of?” The Jewish authorities answered, “We would not have brought him to you if his crimes were not serious.”

Pontius Pilate too could find no wrong in Jesus. But Pilate was a politician and wanted to appease the money changers and the high priest. Just as Jesus had taught Pontius Pilate seeking to satisfy his own short-term needs gave Jesus to the Jews. When Pilate asked the Jews what he should do with Jesus the response was loud and immediate, they said, “Crucify him”.
Then Pontius Pilate took Jesus and had him whipped. The soldiers made a crown of thorny branches and put it on his head. And they found a purple rope and put it on him. Then they dragged Jesus back out before the crowd and the crowd said, “Crucify him.”

When the servants told Lucilla that there was someone at the door she had been expecting Spurio, but the man standing there instead was Judas. He was weeping and he was drunk and he dropped to his knees on the floor before her. “Where is my husband,” was all she could think to ask? Through tears that he could hold back for only seconds Judas told her that they had both been taken up by the Romans. Then Judas found his feet and left. Walking into the night what he didn’t tell Lucilla was that After they took Jesus away the Roman spy stood up and paid Judas 30 pieces of silver that he never wanted for doing what he’d never knew he had done. From there he went found a piece of rope and hang himself.
Lucilla heard Judas say that Jesus and Spurio were taken up by the Romans, but she thought he said they were taking up together. So, panicked she went off to find them. So terrified was she of losing Spurio to Jesus she never thought that he could be taken by the Romans instead. One thing that she could have never foreseen was that by the time Jesus was nailed to a blood soaked cross, Spurio would be shackled in the hold of the slave ship set sail for Rome.

When Lucilla arrived Pontius Pilate’s palace looking for Spurio she did not know that they were already separated by years and thousands of miles. She could only hear the throngs screaming about Jesus, “Crucify him,” It was not unlike the masses she would later hear in the gladiatorial arena. She moved eagerly to the front, but when she saw the bloody mess that Jesus had become standing next to Pontius Pilate and she fainted. It was only the sharp impact of her knee caps on the ground which woke her. She looked back up at Jesus whom she could barely recognize. “How could this happen’’, she asked herself? Grief for Jesus set in deep and instantly. Who would do such a thing to him, to anyone? But as she would see the Romans were just getting started with Jesus.

Lucilla somehow managed to capture Pontius Pilate attention, being beautiful had some advantage, yet it was impossible to change the course of some events once set in motion. She beseeched him to stay his hand, but he was just beginning to wash them. He looked directly into her eyes as he dipped them into the bowl. “You can wash the blood, not the deeds from your palm’s” she screamed though he didn’t hear her through the din of the mob. Then she looked at Jesus, he heard every word of it. The blood was thick and crusted around his eyebrows, but still oozing from the top of his head, and down beside his face. Though his lips never moved it sounded like he said to her, “I know.” She looked at her own palms, then buried her face in them and dropped to her knees unable to believe her eyes.

The guards pushed Jesus down the stone steps. She heard him groan, and fall off each level to the next one with a sickening bloody thud. Jesus was thrown to the stones in the center of the Villa and the people disbursed around him. Spread out on his stomach he was whipped, but not so much as to incapacitate him. He still had a cross to bear. Then the guards cleared away to the fountain, and taking Jesus by the feet dragged him to it. They set him up right and pushed him back against it. His head hung down in the guards grabbed it and set a crown of thorns upon it. Blood poured from newly opened wounds as they did. Next they threw him on his hands and knees and brought the cross. They put it across his back and wrapped and tied his hands around it. They commanded Jesus to carry it, but Jesus was weak. His right leg quivered and he put it down again. Lucilla heard a whip whistle through the wind and rip more flesh from Jesus side and back. Jesus felt the pain, but his body was too weakened to react. Slowly, unsteadily Jesus rose to his feet and slowly began to drag his cross behind him.

It’s quiet here Lucilla thought. She was on her knees when she opened her eyes. She could not believe that so much blood had come from one man. Even the water in the fountain was red. She pulled back her hair and put it behind her head, and then with her skirt tried to soak up Jesus’s blood as though she would give it back to him. She could hear the sounds of the tormenting crowd following Jesus up the hill to where he would be crucified. She wanted to hide, she wanted to die, she wanted to have never existed. Instead he came to her feet and staggered off after them. She walked through the streets then in much the same manner as she would later leave the arena. But it was the first time she had ever known such a feeling. Such a feeling as what, it was a strange to her as it was indescribable. She had not experienced anything like it. Soon it would become more than familiar, it would be her entire world.

She arrived to the place where they would crucify Jesus as he was being nailed by the palms. She thought he was already dead, but when the Roman drove the spike through Jesus woke up screaming. Lucilla could feel the friction of every inch of the nail in her own body. The anguish didn’t stop with the one hand, a guard rammed spike through the other. Standing at Jesus’s feet, Lucilia though that his suffering was so great that it encompassed the pain of all of mankind. Now she wanted so desperately to save the same man she had thought that she hated. But what could she do? She went towards him, but the guard pushed her back. Jesus lifted his head to look at her to speak. Then the soldier becoming indifferent to both of them let her through to Jesus. She put her year to his bloody lips so that she could hear him. His voice was a raspy whisper that said, “Do not surrender the peace of God for things of a dream. Instead of this I see peace.” Then the guard pushed her away again. She wondered, how can Jesus comfort me, how can anyone through all this see peace.

Then the guard crossed Jesus’s feet and drove the spike through them both. Initially his body tensed, but then Jesus gained forgave the pain and his body relaxed. Then Lucilla remembered that Jesus had said, “The guiltless mind cannot suffer.” And so it was that Jesus’s mind did not suffer even when they drove the huge silver spike through his side Jesus remained calm, his body did not flinch.

But when they hoisted the crucifix upright the wind blew cold from across the gorge behind it. Jesus looked up, but the sun was still in his eyes. Lucilla could not imagine his pain. Looking up at him she could only hope that he would soon give up the ghost. Behind her she saw Mary, the mother of Jesus weeping. The wind blew hard and it lifted Mary’s dress and pushed her back. She didn’t see the bolt of lightning but the sudden crash of thunder told her it was close. Besides she and Mary and the Romans there was almost no one else. She looked back up at Jesus, the sky behind the crucifix was black. The rain came sudden and hard. Another bolt of lightning struck diagonally across the sky and the thunder shuttered the ground. Jesus looked up and screamed something which she could not hear, and then he gave up the ghost. His body hung on his arms as limp as string. The rain splashed loud against the ground and was suddenly drowned by the wind. A guard stabbed Jesus with the spear. His body did not move but blood gushed from his side and ran down to the base of the crucifix in a torrent. It will never run dry she thought holding herself up against the wind is but she could. When she looked up the entire sky was raining blood red. What she heard next was louder than anything she ever had or would ever hear again. A thick powerful bolt of lightning electrified the air instantly before striking the crucifix. The blast lifted her into the air and threw her down 100 feet away. She looked back up at the crucifix as another lightning strike lit the night, and in the electric light all she saw was a silver spike on a bloody cross. The body of Christ was gone. For split-second there was a dark dead calm. Then the rain came down horizontally and ripped at her skin. She didn’t leave that place until it became impossible to stay. The wind seemed to push her back down the hill and so she went.

Lucilla returned to the temple in the same manner she left it, alone. She was soaked to the bone and shivering from the cold, but when she learned that Judas had hanged himself she got even colder. She staggered now rather than truly walked. Spurio she thought suddenly realizing that she hadn’t seen him all day. Where would he be? He wouldn’t be here in the temple. So, she went to where she knew he might be. There she found Peter and Paul and Mary Magdalene and others. From their manner she could tell that something was dreadfully wrong. After all that had occurred on this day Lucilla thought that she was emotionally broke, and could feel pain no more. She was certain that she was cursed by Jesus, and in that certainty expected and demanded punishment. But she never dreamed that Spurio would be taken from her and when she learned that he was a slave she discovered how badly she could truly hurt.
Lucilla was certain that she was cursed. In her certainty she expected even demand punishment, but she never expected for Spurio to be taken from her.

At the same moment that Lucilla was looking up at an empty bloody cross, Spurio awoke gagging and coughing as the salt water went through his nose and down his throat. He had been knocked unconscious three days prior, but the water woke him instantly to panic. He found himself shackled to the bulkhead of a slave ship that was sinking. Already his lungs were burning and his only thought was that, “I need to breathe”. But then Spurio instantly remembered that, “I don’t need anything. My body needs to breathe, but I need nothing. Then he was at peace. The burning in his lungs intensified as did the anguished screams of men afraid to die. But Spurio was not afraid of anything realizing that he was not going to die, but rather had never been born at all. It would have been that way except that Jesus came and told him, “Spurio I have been crucified. I have made it, but you have lessons to learn if you wish to make it this time.” “Jesus”, Spurio asked, “How did you get here”? And Jesus replied in a light tone that asked don’t you already know, “I walked”. Spurio smiled as his head dipped under the water for the last time. Down there he remembered that all this was put there by his mind. All this could be removed by his mind. So, it was. Then he went to sleep again. Unconscious his head rose up and bobbled in the water against the bulkhead. The storm still raged and waves continued to break over the deck, but somehow the sailors managed to keep the ship afloat until it subsided. It took three more days for the ship to make Rome. They were three horrific days of starvation, disease and constant threat of sinking again. But Spurio knew of none of it, until he awoke in a rock quarry in Rome.
For most of Rome’s male slaves taken near and far, there are only two possibilities, swift and certain death by attempted escape or a slow death by slave labor in the rock quarries. For Spurio there was a third, yet unknown way.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ end end Captured +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
But Lucilla was stunned when Jesus told her not to worry that he would never tell Spurio what she had done.

Spurio asks Jesus, why did you choose to be Jesus? Why did you choose to be just the last in a long line of false messiahs? Jesus answers saying I came to correct that long line. Spurio smiled.

%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%% The Quarry %%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%
To the workers concentrated there the quarries were a place of desperation, a hopeless pit from which none could emerge. The feeble and the old broke soon. The young and mighty took longer, providing more labor for the Romans. But starved and worked to death no one left the quarries, sooner or later all of their bodies all broke. For eleven months Spurio watched his body wintering. When he was arrested with Jesus, he was powerful and stocky, now he was tall skinny and starving. Spurio knew that the end for his body lay at the bottom of this pit, and he knew it would be soon. But Spurio also knew that he was not a body. That awareness made the destruction of his body acceptable. Spurio put his head down, nearly naked and completely exhausted, wondering, wondering how many more months, two or maybe three. He knew that he would be dead by now, had they not doubled the rations the past few days and he casually wondered why. He had no idea that the following morning he would find out.
The next morning there was a buzz in the camp. Today a Lanista would visit in search of gladiatorial talent. To some men it meant a way out, most simply meant a better way out, to all many things better than this. To all save Spurio. His body, though far from frail had been greatly emaciated. He doubted that any Lanista would choose him.
When the Lanista did arrive, all the men stood eagerly in line, while those with the strength, hoped. But the Lanista went up the line in front, and down the line behind, selecting no one. It was like he wasn’t really even looking, no one caught his eye. But one man intended to make him look.
Spurio was watching the Lanista leave, when he shockingly felt his head snapped back so far all he could see was blue sky as a charging bull slammed into him from behind. When he hit the ground his face was in the sand, but he had no idea what was happening.
He was able to get his arms up underneath him, and with dirt dripping off his face roll over to see Vibius raining down punches on his face. This was odd indeed. Vibius was the only man in camp nearly as large as he, they had never spoken, and every man in camp was worked too hard to engage in extraneous violence, until now.
Spurio bucked his hips wildly throwing Vibius forward, forcing his hands on the ground to keep himself righted. That allowed him to wiggle free, and get to his feet. Vibius stood and charged instantly, clenched tight fists at the end of windmilling arms, but seemingly made Vibius as dangerous to himself as anyone else. Spurio was able to duck under the first salvo, but he did so with his eyes closed. He could not react to Vibius second attack. Initially standing on his feet seemed to be the correct strategy, but when Vibius granite fists dug into his ribs Spurio rethought the ground strategy. So, Spurio wrapped his still massive arms around Vibius body, arms and all, and gave a mighty hug. It broke Vibius like a huge oak, and as he grunted they both crashed to the ground. And here they were again, but this time Spurio on top. He had an intuitive sense that it was the superior position, but no idea how to take advantage of it, and Vibius was wiggling free. Reflexively Spurio pinned the other man’s alarms under his knees, and then with his left hand he turned the other man’s head so that the right side of his face was pressed hard into the sand. This was well and good but control was tenuous so, with a sense of urgency Spurio drew back his huge left fist and prepared to drive it home, but someone pulled him from the elbow behind. It was the Lanista, he had decided to take a look after all.
It wasn’t until the horse-drawn cart rolled out of the quarry and up the chaotic Via Nomentana that Spurio got his first glimpse at the grandeur of Rome. The horse-drawn cart went slowly, almost deliberately so that period could see each intricate monument, fountain, and the awe-inspiring aqueducts. Spurio looked up as he passed through the shade of one of its broad archways. From its shade he could see the sunlight flowing, cascading as water around a dam. When he was thrust back into the naked rays of the sun again he found himself moving up the broad and spectacular Via Nomentana.
If all roads lead to Rome then he thought they all lead first to the Via Nomentana. And it seemed that today the whole world was on it. For surely Spurio wondered, how could there be one more person, one more body anywhere in the world. There was an ocean of people flowing and mixing on the broad and turbulent Via Nomentana. But Spurio was calm about all of this, for he remembered what Jesus had said to them in the boat on the way to Sidron. The mind sought to make much of things, especially those things which it had no experience of. Yet it was ought but distraction. But Spurio would not be distracted by world which did not exist anymore than the guilt which put it there. Knowing that nothing here was real, only that it seemed to be, he smiled, observing these thoughts, as he would puppets on a stage. He could see and hear them, but not go onstage nor become one of them. Thus he was not one of them, he was in the world, but not of the world. Spurio watched his mind thinking its thoughts,
Eventually just as the mountain gives way to foothills and they in turn to the flat plains, so to the wide Via Nomentana a thin strip of dirt worn into the grass. Soon after the cart turned West and headed to the sea.
Spurio rode in the rear of the cart with his hands hugging his knees, Vibius who had attacked him, sat front diagonally across, with his legs outstretched, suffering from cramps. The two men were not allowed to speak so Vibius glanced askance at Spurio for any clues, but Spurio was deep in consideration of what had happened between them. He had of course perceived Vibius’s motives, but what he contemplated now was his own. The attack was a complete surprise. He had defended himself reflexively and instinctually, the suddenness and ferocity of the attack left him no time to think. His body had taken over. But Spurio remembered what Jesus had said, that “forgivenesses is still and quietly does nothing, for in a world which is not nothing need be done.” So, through it all he had been at peace. He judged neither the attack nor the attacker. In fact he had forgiven it without judgment. In fact, in this moment riding in the back of an ox drawn cart with the man he had just fought, he was as indifferent to everything in the past as he was to what could be in the future, as indifferent to his own wellbeing it the fight as he was toward, gaining his freedom in the gladiatorial arena, or dying in the rock quarry. God’s will be done. Spurio did what Jesus had done, the only true thing there was to do, forgive.
The two didn’t speak until they stopped at a riverside, and Spurio assured him that all was well. Both men were too parched to urinate, but Vibius condition improved soon after he drank. Spurio was not thirsty, he was aware however that his body was so, he drank until it had enough.
When the cart finally stopped they were almost to the sea at Ostia, where the Tiber River split and the water which went one way from there would not meet up again with the water that went the other way until the Tyrrhenian Sea. It was in this place that the men’s new lives began.

***************************************The Ludus*************************************
When the two men arrived at the ludus they immediately swore their oath of loyalty to their new owner of that land, a stingy little nobleman named Vettius. The ludus was a laboratory to experiment with Jesus’s teachings, and verify the wisdom of following His way.
The ludus of Vettius was a two-story rectangular building on the western outskirts of Rome. In reality it was more of a rectangular collection of buildings. The main training area consisted of the sandy pit in the middle. Inside were the men’s quarters, a hospital, baths, beds and the kitchen which cooked up a steady diet of bland beans and barley. The Western Wall was several feet higher than the rest of the structure with a wide flat patio space where the men to gather and talk in the evenings. The Romans were extremely equitable and who they selected as slaves. There were slaves and criminals from the mines and quarries, mixed with former freemen who sold themselves to Vettius, to gain coin, or forgive debt. To Spurio the contrast could not have been starker. For men like Vibius, the baths and rub downs were luxurious, former freemen interpreted the same experience at the same time as an imprisonment, and a loss of everything they held dear. One group of men was ecstatic, the other dismayed. It had nothing to do with the men’s pasts, everything to do with what Jesus said. “Some will make a heaven of hell, others a hell of heaven.”
Both Spurio and Vibius were still exhausted from the rock quarry, but their training began promptly the next morning. Practicing with Vibius made one thing very clear to Spurio, which was that with a sword in his hand Vibius was much better. Vibius rather than being a political prisoner had been captured during battle by the Romans. He was a seasoned warrior, and it showed. Vibius liked Spurio, they trained often, and within weeks Vibius was showing him very sneaky little tricks. Spurio never thought of using them, but he genuinely appreciated the gesture.

All of the training took place under the stern eye of the “Doctore” or gladiator trainer. No one knew his name; they just called him Doctore. He was a fierce, mean Gaul who had won a wooden sword of the freedom with 23 victories in the arena. It was an astonishing feat, no one else had ever done it. It was said in the ludus that to be as good as Doctore was to gain one’s freedom, for then surely no one could defeat you in the arena. Under Doctore training was intense, but not cruel. To avoid this staggering heat training took place in two shifts of three hours each. The first was at sunrise, the second began at three hours after midday. The gladiators were a high valued investment, and Doctore meant to maximize Vettius’s returns.

Doctore was immediately impressed with Vibius, but he could not understand Spurio. The big man was not a trained fighter, neither was he fierce, nor aggressive. But he trained harder than any man he had ever seen, trained himself to exhaustion each session and was soon the best conditioned fighter that he had ever seen. Eleven months of labor in the quarries could not account for it. Such labor destroyed men rather than fortifying them. Once as punishment for poor performance, Doctore trained the entire ludus to the last man standing, it was Spurio. He was impervious to pain, and would absolutely not complain. Doctore concluded he must have been spiritual leader, because his mind was stronger than any man he’d ever known.
Still Doctore was concerned that Spurio might never become a gladiator. For all of his other attributes he was clumsy, and his bulk which was an advantage in unarmed combat was a disadvantage to a smaller man swiftly wielding a sharp gladius. Vibius was exceptional; hopefully his added tutorship might make the difference, hopefully.
Doctore was not the only warrior to notice something about Spurio, Vibius had himself noticed these traits. And more, Vibius had talked with Spurio, over many hours, more than any other man in the ludus.
>>>>>>>>>>>>> Put Vibius character sketch here– Asinius too <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

During the cool of the dusk some men would sit on the patio and watch the sky turning hues as the sun set in the west. To the Spaniard Asinius it was ritual. One night Asinius spoke in awe of such beauty to Vibius and Spurio. But Spurio quietly explained that such judgments were unnecessary. “The sky”, he said, “is not out there. The sky is in your mind and you do put it out there. Then you do marvel at it, has being out there, distracting you from your godliness within. Vibius and Asinius stared at each other then at Spurio and smiled, understanding him less than Lucilla, and excepting him the same. And Vibius became aware as Lucilla had that events in the outside world did not change Spurio. With slavery and violence and viciousness swirling about him doing all manner of violence to his body nothing touched his soul. Vibius understanding him less than Lucilla could only think of the spokes of a rapidly turning wheel, in which Spurio was the center.

Three months into their training and it was time for Spurio and Vibius to be initiated into the gladiatorial ranks, or sent back to the quarry. The initiation was a solemn ritual. Each initiate must do battle with an established gladiator on a 9 x 6 foot platform ten feet off the ground. There they would do battle, until one of them was thrown to the ground or forced to surrender. Even Vettius who hardly glanced askance at the training sessions of his own investments, would attend.

In preparation for the event the gladiators were spared the two grueling training sessions, held by most days. Instead the men bathed, received physical therapy, and rested. And now the hot day had given way to dusk, a pleasant breeze from the East, and in the West there was blood red sky going down. The first two gladiators summarily dismissed first two initiates, but as Vibius scaled the ladder to the platform to fight, Doctore’s hopes began to rise, and not in vain.

Vibius did not attack instantly as an inexperienced fighter would. Rather he offered a low fake with his wooden blade. When the gladiator lowered his weapon to block Vibius grabbed the wrist with his free hand and brought the point of his blade to the man’s throat, holding it there, less than an inch away. In a live match it was a sure kill. Swift, efficient, and overwhelming, it was Vibius’s way.
Spurio’s way was much different. He could feel the ladder creek under his enormous weight as he climbed up to the platform to fight. Instead of being the aggressor, it was the gladiator who confidently attacked. Spurio blocked the thrust with his blade, but was slow. With his thrust blocked, the gladiator hit Spurio hard in the face with the butt of his weapon in a back fist motion. But it put him in too close. With blood flowing from above his eye, Spurio was able to wrap both of the gladiators arms in his free left arm from behind, then as if pointing to himself he was able to bring his wooden gladius up to the gladiators throat and hold it there. In the arena it would have forced the gladiator to appeal. Although he was indifferent to his fate, Spurio had won, he would be a gladiator.

Later Spurio joined Asinius and Vibius on the patio lying on their backs looking at the stars. “We are looking at the stars inside of our heads,” Asinius said. “Yes I am seeing stars inside of my own head, even when I close my eyes”, Spurio replied holding a blood soaked cloth to his bleeding eye as he sat down with a groan. All three men laughed. “Spain is out there somewhere”, Asinius said pointing to the west. “And were I to be there, I would be a king”. “But you were captured instead” Vibius retorted.” You could have fought to the death or killed yourself, but you let yourself be captured.” Asinius grew agitated at the obvious truth. To Asinius the world was unfair he was royalty forced into slavery. To Vibius the world was ruthless, but just. He had been captured in battle, and deserving of his fate as a result. “That is why he is so arrogant”, Vibius said to Spurio while pointing at Asinius. “His arrogance is your judgment of the form of his pain,” Spurio said still groaning. “But the true cause is his false belief in and guilt of separation from the Source. It is the true cause of the world’s pain.” Asinius in Vibius stared at each other and looked back up at the sky.
One night shortly after their initiation, Vibius and Spurio were summoned from their quarters, and taken to a party of some Roman nobleman. When the guard informed them, that some important Romans wanted to meet them Vibius became agitated and suspicious, while Spurio was as always, clueless, but untouchable. The guards led them down too long rows of head high torches, that disperse light in waves rather than rays, that led to a lavish spread on the far end. Spurio was surprised to see Vettius, it was the first time he’d seen him up close. Vibius already knew what was up and paid no attention to the scowling old man. They were each handed a sword, and instructed to prepare themselves to do battle.

Vibius had felt this way many times before, blindsided, helpless. The first time when he was eight and watched his father killed on the battlefield. He was hiding with his mother, not fully comprehending, as she beseeched the gods to see her husband just once more. They did oblige. The battle had gone badly for their side. Vibius his father had come on horseback to rescue them, but so had the enemy tribe. He had barely dismounted when an arrow found him in the middle of the back, he fell dead with a muffled thud in the grass. Is that all little Vibius wondered? He could still hear the hiss of the arrow even though it was buried firmly between his father’s shoulder blades. Just one final gasp, where did his father go?
Tonight would be like that all over again. Spurio knew it too. He had not reasoned it out as Vibius had, rather he had revealed to him. It was a certainty that one of them would die by the hand of the other. How he wanted to console his friend, how he wanted to tell him, how unnecessary his anguish was, how much it didn’t matter. But it was Vibius who took control of the situation. They were allowed 10 minutes to stretch and prepare during which Vibius instructed Spurio, to fight as absolutely hard as he could. The reasoning was sound, if the men put on an entertaining bout, the losers appeal was more likely to be granted. If they both put on a near death performance, perhaps they both could live.

As the men proceeded to the center of the floor to fight, the only flaw Vibius could find in his plan was whether the big man would respond with the requisite aggression and fury, such fears were quickly allied. Before he could even get his sword pointed straight the big man was charging him, thrust, thrust, horizontal slash, thrust, vertical slash, thrust. All the while bringing his massive bulk forward at a speed Vibius had never imagined he possessed. Now Vibius found his sword arm pinned between his own body and Spurio’s. Spurio sword arm however was quite free, which posed a problem for Spurio as well. The last thing but Spurio wanted to do was kill his friend. In the same instant that Vibius connected with a stern left hook, Spurio shoved with all his might, freeing his friends sword arm, but sending him in mid air, crashing and sliding across the floor and the other side of the room. Spectators scattered as Spurio followed up. Vibius escaped the first downward slash, back clunked into the concrete, by rolling to his right. Spurio followed up with a second downward slash that Vibius partially blocked and by rolling to his left was able to stand. Vibius felt his counter attack stopped from behind, by the big dark hand of Doctore, who proceeded to instantly between the two men to keep them separate. It had worked, the crowd was mightily pleased, Vettius was proud as a peacock, and rather than let them destroy the place, he stopped the fight.
As soon as he was breathing normally the first curious thought Spurio had was that his premonition had not been fulfilled, the next one was, where is Vibius? It was just now he noticed that the guards were returning him to the ludus alone.
Back at the ludus Doctore informed him that Vibius had been sold. So, after all the invented drama, it was just a demonstration, just business. Had he known Vettius it would make perfect sense to him. As Doctore would later inform him, Vettius would’ve never pitted two of his investments against each other. But Spurio was soon to know Vettius well enough for himself.
Vibius was jolted, how easy it had been for him forget that he was chattel. Spurio following the way missed his friend just as fiercely, but in a completely different way, one that brought deep joy to him for each of the many memories of his friend. The mock battles during training, the long talks at night. No sorrow, just joy. “Some men make heaven from Hell, others make hell from heaven.” If Spurio had any regrets, it was that he never told Vibius about Jesus. It was not so much like regret as wondering what if.
Not bad Doctore thought, as Spurio deflected the opponent’s gladius in a crescent shaped block, then retrace same arc, and with his fist at the level of his own chin and blade vertical, sliced through the throat. The only sounds were banging of the wooden swords and the muffled sound of
Spurio’s own into the opponent’s flesh. Not bad at all. Vibius had been gone for six weeks and it seemed as though Spurio had suddenly learned everything he taught him, on top of Doctore’s own teachings. Most men learned their lessons little at a time, some learned them all at once. Doctore had seen this before, but Spurio was the most extreme.
Now Doctore considered Spurio worthy of him and he was set to let the big man from Judea know it. Doctore had a way of moving without being seen. It could only be experienced, all the men talked about it and mystified manner, even Vibius. Now Spurio saw that they were right. Most men lean, shift their weight ever so slightly, or flinch just before they attack. Not Doctore. Doctore hit Spurio on the head from 8 feet away before he could blink. There in the hot sun on the burning sand Doctore went at him, using the very same attack again and again and again. A choppy 45 ° diagonal cut, that Spurio, that no man could catch up to. “Block me”, Doctore demanded, attacking again and again with his right arm like the spokes of a chariot. And one-time Spurio did, the cracking of the wood against wood, and would against skull, Spurio’s. Again and again as it happened, then a block, then hit, then a block again. Doctore couldn’t believe it, Spurio never feigned. Never shied away, but Doctore had no idea what Spurio was looking at.
Spurio had not seen the Vettius for nearly two months, since the night he fought Vibius at the party. Now, standing in his office watching the little man toil at the desk, Spurio wondered if he would ever speak to him. It was easy to see why the men thought he was so mean and cheap. He was not unlike the money changers. But he remembered what had Jesus said of them that,” We all act in service of our own needs.” It was a lesson that Vettius would bring Spurio back to. Once as they were gathered round, Jesus said to Peter, who had his legs folded in front of him, “why are you sitting in that way?” Peter, perplexed, Wondering what profound teaching would come from such an innocuously posed question, struggled to respond. So, Jesus answered for him saying, “you are sitting in such a manner because it pleases you to do so. You will change position as soon as you deem another more suitable.” And as if unable to help himself, Peter stretched out his legs, and put the palms of his hands on the ground behind him. Everyone laughed including Peter. And Jesus said, “Judge not neither the villainous nor the virtuous, for each acts selfishly as the other. It is not possible for any act in opposition of his perceived needs. We are all equally selfish. We are all totally selfish.”
“I wish to congratulate you on your progress,” he finally offered. “Doctore tells me you’re progressing, and your battle with Vibius tells me it’s true.” Spurio were shocked to hear such a booming, baritone voice from such a diminutive frame. It was clear that this was a man who carried authority, who was accustomed to giving orders and having them obeyed, to having his way. It was also clear, by the way he had yet to look up at Spurio, that he was arrogant.
In reality we all suffer equally from the thought of separation, which hides itself in many different forms in the dream. Vettius suffered from one of the cruelest hoaxes, that of unrealizable parental expectations.
“Spurio let me come directly to the point.” Spurio thought he was already there, but the little man continued. “Doctore wants you to fight in some of the smaller venues outside of Rome, while I want to maximize my profits by having you fight in more lucrative events in Rome. But I want to know what you think.”
It was obvious to Spurio that the little man with the big voice was lying. He couldn’t care less Spurio thought, or his needs for that matter, but to Spurio that was okay, it was forgiven, which was Jesus’s way of making himself impervious to the world and its horrors. “Well Spurio he demanded, are you up to it?” “Dominus”, he began, “Doctore is a master instructor, it would be wise to obey his counsel, nor would I be profitable to you, dead after the first match.” Spurio had dutifully kept his eyes floor, but now reflexively, irresistibly, he raised them to look at his dominus. Vettius glared scornfully as he prepared a scolding, but it was never delivered. When his eyes met Spurio’s he sensed something he had never sensed before, something he had never even known he’d been missing, acceptance. And he realized that Spurio simply answered his question, truthfully. Then Vettius did something he hadn’t done in years, he chuckled.
Spurio realizing his mistake offered up his obedience, “Dominus, your will be done of course.” “Of coarse Spurio,” Vettius replied, “of course.”
The silence was long, but for Spurio not uncomfortable. He wondered about this Vettius. “What would Jesus do with Vettius?” Spurio asked. Instantly he answered, “Jesus would love him”. That settled it, if Jesus would love Vettius, so would Spurio.
Then Vettius asked, “Is there anything I can get for you?” “I have a wife and Judea,” Spurio said halfheartedly thinking that it was too much to ask. But Vettius replied without hesitation, “if she is alive, I will bring her to you.”
There it was again Spurio noticed. He did not say would try to bring her, rather he would bring her. The man was accustomed to getting what he wanted. So, he would see his wife again if she was alive.
Jesus taught that language has been developed by the ruling class in Egypt 3000 years ago. It had been developed to facilitate guilt and obedience, rather than to express needs. guilt designed to manipulate obedience.
After his meeting with Vettius, Spurio’s intense training intensified. Doctore had no control over who would be Spurio’s opponents, but he would control what he could, that meant he would fight Spurio daily. For Spurio it was much more than merely an opportunity to survive. Spurio knew what was coming, Doctore instructed him to block his vertical overhand cut. Still he was unable, on his first attack Doctore cracked him on the skull. Then again and again Spurio struggled to fend off Doctore’s furious attacks, but struggled more to see the instant, the eternal instant, the instinct that never was. And gradually, gently, under the blazing sun, and rain of vertical blows it came into view of his mind’s eye. Spurio felt the block, then being hit, then blocking, then being hit, then blocking, then being hit, all of the same blow. Then each blow. Behind Doctore’s dark streaking body the sky turned to the color of the sand, and Spurio experience both alternatives of each attack, blocked, and being hit each at once. Doctore paused, but Spurio was confused, facing at once both consequences of the same event. Doctore was at once congratulating him for fending off all of the attacks, and berating him for blocking none of them. But in all those many worlds, it was time for Spurio’s first fight.
under the scornful eye
%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%The night before his first fight Spurio received first lesson in the full decadence of the roman orgy.
There were nude women dancing in pits in the marble floors,The gladiators were permitted to feast, drink wine, and have sex with wealthy noble women who could not wait to get their hands on them. It was debautcheious, but most of the gladiators welcomed the diversion, from the looming threat behind tomorrow’s sun. Tonight there was only one who was unappreciative, he was Asinius, a holy man captured in Turkey, the eastern part of the empire. Asinius told Spurio, ” the gods would punish the impure, who indulge in access”. Spurio thought, then the gods must punish us all, for we all indulge in compleatly in our own needs, the sinner and the saint are equally virtuous. ” tomorrow they will all die”, Asinius said. Spurio knew that Asinius too was satisfying his needs, and even as he moved away get some wine, he did so without judgment.
Smiling he thought how much Vibius would enjoy such frolic as this. Joyfully he thought of Lucilla. Anathema to some, bewildering to all, but blissful was the only ways he could think of things, the only way he could long for those loved, but not close, the only way he could be, it was what he was, what he had become since knowing Jesus.
Later that night, he stretched out on the bed in his cell, thinking not about tomorrow, but the evening that had just been. He remembered it not as if living in the past, rather bringing the past moment in too the present one, and experiencing them both at once, as they really were. Contented, Spurio fell into a deep sleep.
He was awakened the following morning by a Roman guard clanging at the gate of his cell. Behind the guard was Doctore. Doctore made sure to let the men sleep as long as possible. He wanted to minimize their wait, and its strain on their nerves. It was unnecessary for Spurio. When all of
Vettius’s gladiators had gathered, Doctore led them into the arena. There they paired off, and did light sparring with each other. Across the arena gladiators from the other ludus did the same. It served as a warm up for the gladiators, and a snack before blood, for the crowd.
To ruling noblemen like Vettius pleasing crowd was everything. Individuals were of no importance at all, but controlling the imagination of the collective was the key to power. To a Lanista like Vettius, the games meant nothing, the power he could garner from them, met all. When the warm-ups were over, all there was for the gladiators to do, was returned to the areas, and wait. Asinius was the first to fight. Spurio did not watch the fight, he focused on the crowd. Although the contest lasted a full 25 minutes, the only parts Spurio saw of it was Asinius’s appeal to Julius Lentulus, and Vettius. The fight was well contested by both men, the crowd had been appeased, it was LenTulus’s games, and he was given to Mercy, but Vettius was not. So, with the thumb pointed towards his own throat, Vettius gave the signal, and Asinius was no more. But pal was cast
instantly over all the gladiators. Such was the nature of Vettius, their Domino, their owner. Spurio make no judgments, nor was he affected by the elements of a dream. He was up next.
As Spurio emerged from to shade inside to the unsheltered blazing sand of the arena floor, he was not invested in his fate, rather curious. The glare cut his eyes like glass, forcing him to squint hard. He was aware that the shards of light and furnace of heat made the sun enemy to both men. Spurio was a secutore, a heavyweight, and he was fighting Brutus, a samnite with three victories in the arena. The three men in the arena, to gladiators, and a referee, acknowledged sponsor, the gladiators faced each other, and the referee signaled about to begin. Spurio was fighting for his life.
The two men circled first. The samnites was another heavyweight, but slightly less heavily armored. Spurio knew that a long fight was not to his advantage, however circling the arena with the din of the intoxicated crowd surrounding, there appeared to be no opening to his opponent. Keeping his shield tight Spurio shuffled in hopes with his gladius that Brutus’s shield. To no avail. His weak attack failed to open Brutus up, and worst of all Spurio failed to retreat after his attack. He was flat-footed as Brutus moved in. Brutus’s sword, and a slashing diagonal cut, hit Spurio hard in the head, bending his neck at a 90° angle, sending him stumbling backwards. Spurio noticed something. After weeks of training with Doctore, Brutus seemed to be moving in slow motion. And in slow motion Spurio could see that Brutus dropped his shield ever so slightly, just before he attacked.
Spurio, circled around until he felt recovered. Then pulling his shield close, behind it the tip of his blade pointed at the Samnites throat. Then flat-footed, Spurio waited. Doctore thought Spurio was dead. Instead Brutus, dropped his shield as anticipated. Spurio pushed his own shield against that hard thrusts the tip of his blade against his opponents helmet. It entered the left eye socket, and snapped the man’s head to the right in a twisting motion. In agony Brutus dropped his sword and shield and writhed on the ground holding his eye. Brutus never appealed, it was unnecessary. Vettius signaled the referee stopped the fight, and the match was over. Spurio had won.
The following morning they buried Asinius, on a sandy hill east of the ludus. His body was wrapped in white linen and he was carried on a stretcher from the ludus to his grave. Burial was another solemn ritual for the gladiators. Another mechanism by which they bestowed respect and honor upon each other. Another narcotic and numb the sting of being slaves.
Asinius had no family so all the gladiators together bought his gravestone. Thousands of years later the gravestones would be the treasure trove’s to archaeologists. Spurio noticed he can just see the ocean off to the horizon. He knew that Asinius would have approved of being buried near the ocean, toward the setting sun.
Returning to the ludus the men were sad, about the death of one of them. Even if the aggravating one of them, one of them. But in total Vettius had done well, having only lost Asinius, and everyone else won. Spurio as usual was not saddened, having only happy memories of Asinius, having never judged him, secure in the knowledge, that not only was Asinius not really gone, but that in reality he had never been. But there was one thing for which Spurio was completely unprepared. It was the astonishing sight of Lucilla. Indeed, Vettius was well versed in the language of reward and punishment.

She stood there in the archway of the gate to the villa. Even at a distance and under the shade he could not mistake her outline. She did not see him until he was almost close enough to touch. When she did, she threw herself into his chest. It was a feeling he had never forgotten, her tiny body against his, her soft skin and marble hands. He stood there holding her with her face buried in his chest and he stroked her hair gently as she sobbed. He remembered what a child she was, he remembered how he loved her, but was still surprised by how good this felt.
When finally she looked up, and he could brush the hair away from her cheek and the tears from her eyes he looked long into them before kissing her. Then he looked at her again, there were no words. This was a potent portion of the dream. He wondered now, whether he had been in denial. No matter, it was a dream for sure, and for sure he would live. The guard grew impatient and hurried them in, Spurio was only too happy to comply. With his Spurio’s winnings Vettius provisioned a private room for Spurio in the ludus. It was where he led his wife to it now.
It was the most exquisite lovemaking they’d ever had. It was the simplest lovemaking they’d ever had. Spurio could always enjoy the moment, any moment. It was a skill he had honed with Jesus, but this time Lucilla enjoyed the purity of the moment as well. In their prior lovemaking, she had been passionate and sincere, but fearful. Irrationally fearful. Rather than live in the lovemaking, she sought to save it, to keep it like a coin to spend at a later date. This time she sought to save nothing digging her nails into his back again and again and again. There were no words.
Lucilla hadn’t nearly time to adjust. Spurio still didn’t seem real to her, not as real as the sounds of combat clangoring up through the window from the ludus down below. ”

When finally, they spoke, though two years apart it was as familiar as yesterday. Spurio was sprawled out on his side as Lucilla sat up crosslegged looking at him. She seemed almost embarrassed now, halfheartedly giggled and spoken to her shoulder, when she talked to him. Although she was certain that he had endured unspeakable horrors, still she wanted desperately to know that nothing bad happened to him. She tried to believe in the reality that wasn’t. She looked at him, his entire body. My big gentle husband is so strong, she thought. “How do you do it,” she asked? How do you endure all this pain and suffrage”? He gave her the concerned look which she recalled instantly, meant that right now, he was focusing everything on her every word, on her very next word. “Just yesterday you kill the man, it could’ve been killed yourself. When I saw you, you were just returning from a funeral of your friend. I don’t understand, how can you go on another day? In your place, I’m sure I should have killed myself long ago.” She finished her statement weeping, but her husband was laughing. He laughed long and heartily, and then shaking his head, said “oh my dear, don’t you understand it yet? No one has killed anyone, because no one is here.” And then he finished laughing, looking at her lovingly, but looking at her like a child. She couldn’t believe what she was feeling, anger. Here it was two years later, after all, he’d been through, and all she’d done to get to him, she was actually getting angry at him. They were squabbling as though nothing had happened. “You sound just like Jesus”, she snapped at him. “Why don’t you try speaking to him”, he said, still smiling. She paused, “he’s dead, didn’t you hear?” “Jesus is the only thing that’s real, Lucilla. The one real thing in our dream.” “They crucified him,” she persisted. “They crucified his body, but Jesus was not a body. So, once his body died, he was resurrected.”
She was still incredulous, but unwilling to waste what precious little time remained discussing Jesus. She coyly and gently seduced her husband again, and he willingly led to where she want to go. That night, the ludus fell silent, but she knew she could not keep it from encroaching with the sunlight. Lucilla looked out the window as the first rays dappled the sands of the ludus below. She felt Spurio behind her enveloping her like the ocean around a rock on the shore. He held her there and she already dreaded having to leave, having to leave him there to the horrors of the day and days ahead, which she was powerless to save him from. He turned her toward him, and putting his hand gently under her chin lifted it until her eyes met his.” Don’t cry”, he said. “We are not apart, it is impossible to be separated. We are in heaven, and there is no place where one of us ends for the other begins. We are one.” As she protested, he interrupted her gently, saying, “You will see this when you make it out of the dream. And in actuality, you already have, we all already have.” And now she stared up at him in such a way that she could never look away he said “when I make it out, none of this will matter. And when you make it out you’ll see that it’s true. I know you don’t believe me, but I swear you’ll see that it’s true. And when I do make it out, I’ll tell you, I promise. ” Still looking straight into his eyes and believing every word she said, without knowing what she was saying, or how she would accomplish it swore “And I promised to let you know, when I make it.” Before now Lucilla had never thought of waking from a dream, of making it, but now she swore solemnly, and meant it. It was implicit of course, that Spurio would be the one to make it first.
In the morning, it was not the ludus that exited, it was her.
In the morning Spurio watched his wife depart through the gated archway. Most men never could’ve watched her walk away with such peace. Most men would have felt deep pangs of want, born of loving from lack. Spurio lacked very little, therefore, he loved almost purely, the absence of missing her, but a symptom of his pure love for her.
The ludus was like a microcosm of Rome, he lived and breathed it woke in slept and rose again. He was not concerned for her welfare, because he was aware that as himself, she was a dreamer and a dream. But he was curious as to whether or not she would attend his fights. Well aware that she could watch him die before her very eyes. Such thing would intensify her nightmare, but could not harm her, the dreamer. He decided that he would take these things to Jesus.

%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%% the mystical fight %%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%
With a victory fresh under his belt, Vettius was anxious to maximize his returns on Spurio. So, he determined that Spurio would fight in the ludus of his political rival, Claudius Maximus against his best gladiator. Vettius was in the enviable position of not having to field the winning fighter. Maximus was younger, but Vettius was politically unknown. To gain status, he merely needed to satisfy the crowd, which could include either sparing or sacrifice and Spurio at their delight. Maximus had not only to please the crowd, but his men had better win. Either way, as always, the gains and losses to the owners were denominated in the currency of blood of the gladiators on the field.
The match would be held without shields. It would be to Spurio’s detriment, he was by far the bigger and slower man. As anticipated, the Thracian brought the fight to him, trying to negate his superior reach. Spurio deftly blocked a series of diagonal and horizontal slashes with the same attitude that he would pick flowers from the side of the road. Then the Thracian thrust straight at Spurio’s midsection. Spurio brought his blade down in a counterclockwise half arc, and clearly heard and saw thrust being easily blocked, he also clearly felt and saw the blade run him through. Both, disparate acts, occurring in slow motion stop action. That was, “interesting”, he thought. He retaliated with a horizontal cut, which missed entirely when his opponent ducked under it, and simultaneously cut the Thracian’s head off. From above the battlefield, Spurio could see his dead prostrate body, could see himself appealing to Vettius his mercy, could see the Thracian appealing for the same, and could see the dead Thracian. He could see all the dreams as they were, happening all at once. It was his Jesus had said, and he could take any of them he wanted, or none at all. But he could not hold all of them at once, anymore than he could see both near and far. He had to focus on one and it was not one of his choosing. The Thracian cut him across the belly, horizontally, not deep enough to cause internal injuries, but deep enough that if Spurio wanted to do in this lifetime, then he had to do something fast. He did. The Thracian was leaning forward and off balance, as he finished the slicing cut. Spurio’s, with more agility than such a big man should have had already recovered and was moving in. With both hands on the hilt, he sliced vertically with all his might. The dull blade struck the Thracian in the back of the head, with a blunt thumping sound, splitting it from the crown to the base of the spine. When the man fell on his stomach at Spurio’s feet, a cloud of dust was the only movement his body made. The helmet was the only thing holding his head together.
Back inside to Spurio was once again obtained the finest standard Roman medical care. Roman doctors had pioneered physical therapy techniques that would be practiced for thousands of years. They could reset broken bones perfectly. Only severe internal bleeding was beyond their competence, and fortunately Spurio had none of that. His quick backward jump, along with the extra layer of fact afforded by his bland bean diet, had protected him from the worst of the Thracian’s blade. He was still safe from things that weren’t, within the dream. He had seen the multitude of allusions, now he wanted to see beyond it. He could have no idea how soon he would. But that little bit of wanting, would make him wish he hadn’t. So far it had all been going well, for the man who’d never lost sight of the goal. But he was about to find out just what a distraction being too close to what he always wanted could be.
%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%% End the mystical fight %%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%
All of that happens before the opening fight. What happens below happens after the first fight. you need to bring the story from here to the opening sentence.
%%%%%%%%%%%%%% All the above happens after the first fight or the opening scene %%%%%%

“How is your leg Spurio, Vettius asked?” “”Well, I think it bends in both directions now,” he answered dryly. Vettius straightened his arms out on the desk leaned back in his chair and studied his man. Without either of them knowing it, in the next few minutes, they would both make a critical decision for themselves and each other. “Spurio”, Vettius began, “you’ve done well. You’ve risen quickly and with just three victories, you’ve won coin and fame. Of course, you’ve also gained me coin and influence with Claudius Maximus. He almost begged me to sell you to him.” He said it as though he had done Spurio a favor by not selling to him, but was thrown off when he realized that Spurio did not get the implication. Actually Spurio did get the implication, it just didn’t register with him. Vettius lived by the double-edged sword of reward and punishment, success and failure, friends and enemies. Spurio understood those concepts, and understood the falseness of them. He understood they were just devices of evil to keep our attention on things in the dream and not having.
“I didn’t sell you, but I did pledge you to fight in Maximus games in three months. I know you are still injured in Doctore tells me that three months is not enough time, but if you win I will gain his patronage for the Senate and I will grant you your freedom.” Now Spurio sense, a slight touch of pleading in his voice, that Vettius was unaware of. As usual, Vettius never got that Spurio got him, but he understood Spurio not one iota. “You don’t have to answer now, give it some thought.”
Until now, their relationship was one of master and slave, but in this moment it was the master pleading to the slave for something that only he could give. At this moment, their relationship, crossed the well marked line of master and slave to man to man. They studied each other. “Dominus”, was Spurio’s only remark, but both men knew that the answer had given.
Doctore was the only one worried about Spurio’s next match. Vettius was far too self-centered and preoccupied, when not directly involved in the affairs of the ludus. Spurio himself was still rattled by having seen the sky, the world, drop away. He had no idea what it was, or what it meant. Jesus always said that the absence of the illusion of separation looked like pure bright light. But the reality he had just woken to was completely dark.
Every organ in the body does its job. The liver secretes bile, like the brain thoughts. Since it seemed the sky fall away Spurio’s brain had been excessively secreting thoughts. Successively secreting, evaluating and eliminating ideas before most of them made their way to his consciousness. Each idea, a toehold into understanding what he had seen. And of all the thoughts which capricious randomness could give him, the only idea taking form now was the one that was unthinkable until now. Jesus was wrong. The thought popped up and was immediately suppressed for it could become a full-fledged idea, but like everything else in the dream it fights to live.
Spurio, who could not train had plenty of time to think, his thoughts weren’t the only thing working against him. Claudius Maximus in his quest for redemption against Vettius, has a new gladiator in his employ, but not his ludus. None of Vettius as spies could discover him, but out there, somewhere in Rome, a healthy highly accomplished technically polished gladiator was training, training as though he were fighting the gods, but would be fighting Spurio instead.
It was already a month after his match with the retirarius and yet was Spurio preoccupied, by the darkness, by the doubts about Jesus. His injured left leg could barely hold weight. It was being manipulated by the physical therapists. By this point in his career painful injuries were commonplace to Spurio. In the past he’d always ignored the pain and chatted with the doctors and physical therapists, attending him, but now, he solved with the shoulders hunched and stared at the floor, beyond the floor.
He needed the help of two other gladiators to scale the steps to his room. Once there, however, he noticed a Vettius have left a small, very big gift for him, Lucilla. He was overjoyed to see her, but as her visit lingered a new idea, entered his mind, one he’d never known before. As he saw her sitting there, on the edge of the bed, her beauty, her desirability for the first time in his life he was overwhelmed with the impending sense of loss. Beautiful and desirable now, he wanted to hold her more than ever, but when he stepped toward her he could not back the grimace as the leg sent the screening message of agony to his brain and he stumbled. Lucilla rushed to get him and together they hobbled over to the bed.
Once there Lucilla realize that she was not going to make love to her husband this day. She could feel his burning with fever and see that the pain in his leg would take predominance over all. Lucilla was barely 22 years old and still very much a girl, but as she stroked her husband’s four head propped up the pillows for him to lean against, she sensed, became aware that they were something wrong with her husband, and it wasn’t his leg. Spurio reclined back against the pillows, but he didn’t stay that way long, he immediately lay full out.
She looked up at her into her gentle eyes and told her, told her about the darkness. And as doubt weaved it’s way deeper into Spurio psyche is wife’s response turned it upside down. “It was nothing”, she said. “It was just nothing, just as Jesus always said.” “Listen now to you, quoting Jesus”, Spurio said, laughing, painfully, and fell asleep. Lucilla spent the night in the V shape between her husband arm and body. She cuddled his burning hot arm in hers and lay awake all night. Though there was no way for them to know it, she had just taken the first baby steps toward her own enlightenment.
Three months later
Doctore was livid. Somewhere in Rome was a fierce and seasoned gladiator who had been training for three months while Spurio could barely recover, he could only limp. For all the spies that his and Vettius is money could buy, that Maximus is gladiator was in Capua was the only information they can get. Doctore told Spurio of this and promised to double the name and some useful information about the unknown gladiator, but for Spurio it was completely unnecessary. He instantly knew who his opponent was. Spurio kept to himself, there was no need for Doctore to know. But on this day, it wasn’t just Spurio keeping secrets. He had been with Vettius many years now, and he perceived Vettius’s treachery. Earlier in the week he had pled with Vettius to delay the fight, or place another gladiator in Spurio Stead. But Vettius steadfastly refused, Maximus insisted on Vettius as champion, and that was Spurio. But the treachery did not and there, Doctore realized that Vettius was deliberately sacrificing Spurio to the altar of his own higher ambitions. Politically, Vettius could gain more right losing to Maximus, and politically Vettius was moved as in no other way. Vettius would sacrifice Spurio and Maximus would save face. Vettius would then have his patronage for political advance. It was also painfully obvious, but he would spare Spurio such knowledge, he thought. He was wrong.
As Spurio finally began training, he perceived Vettius’s treachery and forgave it, but he did not forgive it as Jesus would. He did not forgive it by making nothing of it, because it was nothing. He forgave it as one who is wronged. Since he’d seen the darkness Spurio sees the world through the eyes of his separated mind rather than the eyes of the Holy Spirit, and thus had slipped back into the rescuer personality of his boyhood, and now he would rescue Vettius.
Doctore must now train Spurio such that his strength and stamina returns, but his injured leg also heels. With two weeks to go, there was no good way to do it. Yet was Doctore amazed for Spurio had progressed beyond all he could have imagined. He might yet win.

He remembered it not ever like this. Lucilla’s shapely form snaking rhythmically on top of him. It was an experience that made the dreams seem very real and not one he wanted to wake from, and he wondered what was Jesus really talking about anyway.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ The last day +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The games began early the next morning. First Lesser known and lesser skilled gladiators were paired against each other en masse. From between the vertical bars of his cell Spurio could see the men entering from opposite sides of the arena and walking purposefully towards each other at its center. He was painfully aware that each man began the morning with high hopes of moving down his road to freedom. But neither Vettius nor Claudius Maximus were in a mood for mercy. The men who lost and appealed were slaughtered, the winners paired against each other again. Before the sun’s shadow was lifted from the arena’s floor not a single gladiator was standing, all their high hopes brought down to bloodstained sand.

Spurio adorned his armor in the manner of a man accustomed to doing a particular task, unconscious, that he was even doing it. It was the same manner in which Doctore had taught him to fight. Warming up, he felt the pain of his injured leg, moving from unbearable to something just slightly less. To save both his stamina and leg for the match, Doctore kept his warm-up, abbreviated. The gladiators would enter from opposite sides of the arena and walk briskly towards each other. Doctore didn’t want his man limping into the arena.

As the gates swung open with the clang Spurio stepped onto the sand into the din of the crowd noise and walked towards the center towards his old friend of Vibius. He was shocked, Vibius had changed his style completely, he was now a Thrax. He fought now with a shield, and a sword curved like a J.. He knew that the sword when blocked still snake around and slice him in the back. All of Doctore’s hard work, just crumbled like grains of sand. He made eye contact with Vibius for just a second. If Vibius recognized or was surprised to see him it didn’t show. He simply turned to Vettius and bowed, Spurio followed suit. It wasn’t surprising to Spurio thought. Gladiators lived trained and grew together, just like Original Sin separation sets in scattering loved ones like dust in the wind.

And Vettius dropped a white cloth to signify the beginning of the bout, and cool dusk breeze blew it away before it hit the floor. To Spurio was a good sign. But Vibius was quick, barely had Spurio turned to look what he felt the impact of Vibius is curved blade against the shield, it staggered him. The rumor that Vibius would be granted his freedom for winning was obviously true, he fought like a man possessed. Spurio now put head into the fight, he determined to fight in the center and make Vibius use more energy and move around him, like spokes around the hub of a wheel. Vibius charged viciously, he had never seen his old friend in this manner before. It felt like he had 10 arms, but Spurio’s shield, sword and own massive body absorbed and sprung back after each powerful blow. Vibius’s frontal assaults weren’t working so, he shifted, moving around in a large circle as Spurio had hoped. It was Vibius, who was using more energy, but it was he who had more energy to use.
Still Spurio was well aware that Vibius was much too good to continue using something that wouldn’t work. Spurio shifted to his left to his right keeping pace with Vibius moving in a wide arc. Then Vibius attacked, but unlike the previous times this time when he stepped back after his failed attempt he moved right back in Spurio, slamming his shield and shoulder into Spurio’s massive torso. Spurio was slightly unbalanced, but it was Vibius, who was knocked off balance. Spurio hesitated not an instant he jabbed reaching with his right arm for all he could, nearly stepping Vibius in the rib cage and ending the fight, but pushing off with his injured left leg made him a second to slow and Vibius regained his balance without injury.

For a cruel hopeful second Lucilla thought her nightmare was over, until Vibius straightened up and squared off against her husband.
Spurio took the standard position, with his left leg forward now. It’s not that his leg didn’t hurt, he was just too busy to pay attention to it, and as Vibius charged in like lightning, this time he gave Spurio something else to think about. Vibius struck diagonally down and although Spurio blocked it, he was a second late, with a shield to close to his body. It was then that Vibius’s oddly curved sword did its duty. It reached like a claw around Spurio’s shield and sliced tissue of his left shoulder to the bone. The pain was worse than his leg had ever been, but not enough to stop the attack he’d already commenced. While fending off Vibius his blade with a clang he lunged in with several short chopping jabs when his blade returned bloody he knew that at least one of them found its mark.

Neither man knew how bad the other was wounded, but each of their bodies recognized their limits against the cold steel of the other man’s blade.

The calculation had changed from preserving stamina to saving blood. Each man would have to kill the other before he bled to death. Spurio’s agonizing shoulder left his shield noticeably low and Vibius sought to take immediate advantage. He attacked with lightning speed but surprisingly big man sidestepped and bladed his body to the attack and was able to nick him on the sword arm as he flew by. Suddenly both men realize that although Vibius entered the arena with more stamina now he was the one losing the most blood. Spurio didn’t have to do anything but wait and Vibius knew it. But Spurio’s shield was now down by his side and when Vibius sliced at his left side it cut a gash across Spurio’s left arm midway between his shoulder and elbow. Spurio shield dropped as he brought his elbow in to his ribs, holding himself, comforting himself. When Vibius attacked again he had only his sword to block with. It might be enough Vibius was slowing down. They who were in a fight to the death were now in a race to it. The loser would survive. Had Vibius looked at his injury he would’ve seen a streaming blood, instead his focus zeroed in on the huge target offered by his one armed opponent. Then he did something desperate. Vibius inched in slowly, cautiously,. Spurio was confused, yet never seen such trepidation on the part of Vibius. He was sure that Vibius was on the verge of death or treachery. Then he noticed Vibius’s shield held low, down to the rib cage. With every fiber of strength remaining Spurio drew back his sword and sliced horizontally that Vibius his head. He was sure that Vibius would be too late to raise the shield; he was right. Vibius drops and shield entirely bent his knees and let the blade swish harmlessly above him. In a split second that seemed like an hour all he could see was Spurio’s huge damage left leg. Remorsefully but viciously he cut it to the thigh bone. Spurio screemed and dropped to both knees, his blade fell ineptly into the sand.
Vibius, bleeding badly moved in for the kill. With his left hand he pulled back to Spurio’s head his right hand placed the point of the blade on Spurio’s throat poised for the command that both men knew was coming. Spurio could feel the slight pressure of the tip of the blade as he raised the two fingers of his right hand to Vettius. Vettius in turn appealed to the crowd and it was in a frenzy. He extended his right fist with thumb pointed out parallel to the ground. Spurio could see Vettius’s head pivoted slowly back and forth its full range. As he scanned carefully, deliberately all the choices came down to just the only choice there ever have been. And then with a final glance at Claudius Maximus, Vettius did what Jesus said we all do. Acting against his word, but in his own self-serving test interests Vettius put his pointed thumb on his own throat sending the command to Vibius to take his old friends life.
Spurio tried desperately to change his dream. In the times when he’d been in different he could change the dream at will, but suddenly, when it deeply mattered all the choices vanished like midst into mid air, the mere wanting of any, instantly doing away with all of the infinitely many possibilities. Betrayed and blindsided as his old friend rammed the gladius through his chest, forcing a gag reflex that he would never live to experience, Spurio’s eyes locked onto Vettius, but it wasn’t Vettius’s treachery that he perceived, it was Jesus’.

+++++++++++++++++++ End the last flight ++++++ +++++++++++++++++++

“Nooooooooooooooooo”, Lucilla screamed, louder, longer, than she had in her life, whatever would again. Leaning over the rails so that her feet came off the floor, she wailed for a minute continuously without drawing a breath. She shrieked so loud that it could not be heard over the roars of the drunken rowdy crowd. She screamed the life, vibrancy and beauty of youth right out of her, and when her feet hit the floor again, she turned her back bent her knees, collapsed, curled up on the concrete floor, and stayed there till her weeping became shallow raspy breaths, stayed until she was the only one there, until the pale sun came out under a rainy sky.

She staggered down the stone steps and out of the arena in the drizzly light. She meandered lonely cobblestone streets blank in thought with her jaw quivering in slanting rain that was turning cold. Aught for what to do she returned to the dank apartment that Vettius had provisions for her.
It was there that she resolved to end her suffering, but with dagger in hand Vettius’s men summoned her. So, concealing the knife in her gown she determined another way to join her husband and takes Vettius with her. Lucilla did not lift her eyes, had not lifted her eyes since seeing Spurio killed. She did not look directly at Vettius sitting at his desk. He began speaking, saying all the polite appropriate things. What a great champion Spurio was, how sorry he was that he was gone. He said it as though he had nothing to do with it. But when he slid coin that Spurio had won across his desk toward her she reached into her gown pulled the dagger and sliced down at the ugly little man. It was the most futile act she had ever done. The guards were upon her instantly. They ceased her harshly leaving the dagger stuck in the desk. Vettius stood up and walked around the desk and bade the guards to release her. She fell like a sack in his arms weeping. He nearly had to hold her up, but for a reflexive act of revulsion. ” Don’t touch me”, she screamed in a guttural tone as loud as she could, that could barely be heard. Vettius told her that she could stay in the apartment for as long as she lived, and had the guards deliver her and her coin to it. But she never heard him, she fainted in the guards had to deliver her home.

Lucilla didn’t remember what much in the days and weeks that followed. They buried Spurio along with Vettius is other fallen gladiators. She did not attend, nor did she purchase a headstone. It was the expected thing to do, but she would not dishonor him so. It was an ugly and inhumane practice that took her husband, who was himself a savor of lives, a physician and a philosopher.
The days and weeks flowed into weeks and months, but for her nothing changed. She ached for Spurio who was gone and gone with him all hope. It is an incomprehensible, but undeniable mechanism, that a thing available, whoever much want or not, when made unavailable becomes so much more in value, and now for Lucillia that mechanism cast a cold pall over her. He had always seen her as a gentle thing, a flower. But some flowers do not blossom in the shade, cannot thrive in the cold. So, lost and alone and seeing no way out she took the only way out she knew. The one she knew she would take the instant he died. And though she lived in crippling anguish he did so without fear. She feared not to be alone, for companionship brought no relief. She had not fear death, she welcomed.
She studied the dagger, like the one she tried to bury him to Vettius. Though she didn’t approve she had confessed herself that being left alone without him was fitting. She had loved him unquestioningly, with neither motive nor purpose and been in longing of him since. She followed him from Judea to Rome with Jesus or Vettius and now death to stand between them. And now without him her life was unbearable. And here in her fearlessness she can the last say that the cost of Spurio had been too high, loving him had not been worth it. Being apart from him was the only way he could be. So, without hesitation she prepared with both hands to drive the blade home, but a singular odd thought made her delay. “Jesus was wrong”, she remembered her husband saying. She remembered that as though he were in the room speaking it to her now. But Jesus was right as well, Spurio had seen the lack of separation for himself. If she killed herself which should be one with her husband in timeless permanence, or separated from him forever. Can Jesus be both wrong and right?
Wrong or right she couldn’t care less. As she looked at the wall across the room she saw a small dark oval in the middle of it. The voice in her mind said look away, it said he terrified, that for her was impossible. She stared at the darkness, she challenged the darkness, threw her dagger at it, watched it disappear into it and in that instant saw not it for what it was, rather the rest of the world for what it wasn’t,. She realized that the dagger didn’t disappear rather that it never really was. Simply that it wasn’t. Staring there into the abyss she said mournfully “Oh my poor pitiful Spurio, my poor husband”, there was nothing to fear, it’s just the nothingness that is. They were the last words of regret she ever spoke, and after she looked back up she would never weep again.

Her eyes dropped to the floor in tears, but they were the last tears she ever cried. When she looked up she saw rather than the nothingness the oneness of all, and new that she’d made it.

It was so simple she thought. We spend our lives tripping over it never noticing. But Spurio had found it. He’d found and lost it as suddenly as she found it. However improbable!

Although nothing in the dream mattered she had made a promise to her husband, they had made a promise to each other and that promise was somewhere between the dream and heaven. So, she results to keep her promise to leave her message and believe something more. But where? Where could she leave it? She had only to ask and it was answered.
She left the improbable message she had made it, in the only place it could be found, the one place it could not be missed, at the same time fulfilled the promise to her husband, champion, her student and teacher, herself. Then she lived as many years days and seconds as she wanted, teaching the word, but living not in the world until she decided to leave the dream. Then she gently set aside her body and went out with no intention to come back in save to find the one who was lost and help him home.








For Spurio it was the something more that would make all the difference.
She left the improbable message in the only place it could be found, the one place it could not be missed, at the same time fulfilled the promise to her husband, champion, her student and teacher, herself.
He told her about the darkness, but she could not comprehend the reason for his alarm. “Jesus always said, I am the way to the light.” But all he saw was darkness so thick it could be touched. Lucilla had never seen her husband confused before, not in any of Jesus’s teaching, word or deed, but now she sensed more than mere confuse, she could taste a palpable loss of faith.

If you are not, then neither is my life, nor meaning, nor reason to be. Spurio felt a gentle heaving of his wife’s stomach and her tears on his arm. Gently he pulled her, brushed her hair back from her face, and lightly kissed her cheek, and then he whispered to her, “I am not real in your dream, yet I am real. We are all real in heaven and there we are so close that there is no place that one of us ends and another begins, we are all one, the only one.” Lucilla stopped crying, but was not satisfied. If this was a dream she didn’t want to wake up, she wanted everything to be as it seemed, that she lay here surrounded by the man she loved, would always love, and would love no other. To her things were as they should be, if this was a dream, then she did not want to wake up. She wanted to take her husband, live her dream, and Jesus with his strange message to go away. Yet Spurio, the only man she understood less than Jesus stayed with him so, she stayed with her husband, making Jesus’s message all the more threatening, making Jesus all the more threatening.
but could not know what a curse loving him would be.

Jesus came to correct Arjunea and others were born of a virgin birth, died on the cross,, and after three days resurrected.

And even if the money changers had given the coins away altruistically, still they would have been completely selfish. It is as impossible for us to knowingly act against our own perceived best interest, as it is to know it. There can be made no distinction between victim and victimizer, between predator and prey we are all equally selfish, we are all completely selfish. Money is simply a symbol, a powerful one, of that selfishness.