Still sleeping around me on the misty ground were a number of men in the tunics and cloaks of first-century Palestine. I soon understood with no sense of surprise that the men were Jesus' 12 disciples and that he was nearby sleeping among them. So I lay on a while in the early chill, looking west across the lake to Tiberias, a small, low town, and north to the fishing villages of Capernaum and Bethsaida. I saw them as they were in the first century--stone huts with thatch-and-mud roofs, occasional low towers, the rising smoke of breakfast fires. The early light was a fine mix of tan and rose. It would be a fair day.
Then one of the sleeping men woke and stood.
I saw it was Jesus, bound toward me. He looked much like the lean Jesus of Flemish paintings--tall with dark hair, unblemished skin, and a self-possession both natural and imposing.
Again I felt no shock or fear. All this was normal human event; it was utterly clear to my normal eyes and was happening as surely as any event of my pervious life. I lay and watched him walk on nearer.
Jesus bent and silently beckoned me to follow.
I knew to shuck off my trousers and jacket, then my shirt and shorts. Bare, I followed him.
He was wearing a twisted white cloth round his loins; otherwise he was bare and the color of ivory.
We waded out into cool lake water 20 feet from shore till we stood waist-deep.
I was in my body but was also watching my body from slightly upward and behind. I could see the purple dye on my back, the long rectangle that boxed my thriving tumor.
Jesus silently took up handfuls of water and poured them over my head and back till water ran down my puckered scar. Then he spoke once--"Your sins are forgiven"--and turned to shore again, done with me.
I came on behind him, thinking in standard greedy fashion, It's not my sins I'm worried about. So to Jesus' receding back, I had the gall to say, "Am I also cured?"
He turned to face me, no sign of a smile, and finally said two words--"That too." Then he climbed from the water, not looking round, really done with me.
I followed him out and then, with no palpable seam in the texture of time or place, I was home again in my wide bed.