Jesus with Seasonal Depression
by Caitlin Upshall
Lazarus is not resurrected; not on time, anyway. He is less like a quick-rise miracle and more of a sourdough starter. His sisters hover by the door, waiting. Martha smooths the edges of her dress and spit shines the doorknob. Mary rearranges perfumes in the home and picks flowers from the garden for a bouquet.
Jesus takes another nap on the boat, as the disciples grow frustrated. You’re not supposed to yell at the Messiah, but thirteen grown men walking barefoot through the desert is a situation bound to elicit strong odors and tensions.
You have been napping all day, Peter says. Do you see these waves? People could really use your help.
It is a rhetorical question—like all questions we ask God; everyone can see and feel the waves.
Some days, when I feel them rocking underneath me, all I can do is sleep. It is easier than trying to keep my balance or walk across them, no matter who I’m following.
The disciples continue preaching. Philip becomes Jesus’s hype man and goes ahead of them into every town, warming up the crowd with a list of all of the miracles that the Lord has already performed. When Jesus finally arrives, tired and on the back of a donkey, the disciples will pull straws to find out who has to ask him,
Do you want to do a miracle today? Do you feel up for it, champ?
Luke writes him a prescription for zinc supplements. John the Baptist misunderstands and sends his cousin a large rock. Jesus thanks them both.
Matthew goes back to being a tax collector full-time. He starts to scam old women and children and widows and prostitutes. He becomes more brazen with it, jiggling the coin purse in front of Jesus, hoping that the Father will wake up from his nap, use the eyes in the back of his head, and turn around and shout,
Cut it out!
…or feed Matthew a sweet parable that has him apologizing and weeping at the end. Either reaction would be welcome.
With burned shoulders and blistered feet, Jesus weeps openly and often. The disciples look away at first to be polite and preserve his dignity. Thomas begins to keep a joke book on hand, filled with satirical and dry humor that goes unappreciated by most.
Their trips to miscellaneous wells become a second Sabbath and the disciples follow at a distance, trying their best to give Jesus independence while still carrying concern that he might collapse from the weight of the world. When they check in on him with homemade spy glasses hours later, they will find a crowd gathered around him, as he pontificates with a strong smile. He will offer parables and metaphors, and imagery so beautiful that it has to be captured in text. Later that night, the disciples will gather together and write their own parables about Jesus. They will center their parable on a mountain that has been lost under a thick coat of snow.
Jesus does arrive. He will see the flowers and the shiny doorknob and Mary and Martha. He will visit the tomb and cry with them and comfort them and grieve with them.
He will be four days late, but he will show up.
Caitlin Upshall’s work has been published in Words & Whispers, Entropy, The Sweet Tree Review, The Yellow Chair Review, and None Lives Later: A Dead Cat Anthology. For more, you can find her personal website here.