He was ruined. They scourged him repeatedly, taking turns to catch their breath. It was clear to see they were not trying to maim a man, but rend a god. Then the thwing, thwing as hammer pumped iron and the man previously pinned to the tail of a donkey was now pinned to the roof of the world, a specimen for all to behold. It was excruciating to watch the frame I had leaned against only hours ago. Dear God, they ruined him. They ruined the one I loved.
As I stood, my life flared before my eyes, not the sum of my days with Zebedee, but those years after the nets, when my life truly began, those three beautiful years. There were short-breath moments during his time with us when I felt inspired, compelled to capture his words and miracles, to write them down. One day he asked 'You like to tell stories, don't you?' I answered 'Yes, I like to tell stories that are true.' Then he spoke directly in my eyes: 'One day, after it is finished, you can write our story. Only then will you begin to see.'
I found myself short-breathed again as I writhed before my friend and two thieves. Words from somewhere beyond me rose up my throat causing me to gasp: 'God so loved the world that he gave.' I would remember and record those words years later when I was too old to be a fisherman much less a disciple. Of all I've penned, it is that phrase of which I am most proud, for they are the words most true. The love of God haunts me.