Claudia’s Dreams


by Algi Wijewickrema

Claudia was standing at her maid’s house as unobtrusively as possible because she was not sure how to deal with the situation. Word had reached her that her faithful maid’s lovable daughter had died and though she knew she had to visit the house, she wasn’t sure what to do.

Claudia’s treasure was her baby son and the Jewish maid who looked after him had been faithful and looked after the baby as well as she would. Quite often the maid would bring her own daughter who would play with the baby, sing to him and keep him happy and bubbly. Claudia herself had come to love the girl for she, like her mother, was of a lovable disposition and it was a pleasure to have her visit them.

And now to her horror, she had come to hear that the girl had died that morning. Without thinking of protocol or hesitating to ask her husband, she decided to go to the maid’s house accompanied by a servant.

While she was there, not sure how to deal with the situation, her attention was caught by a man being invited to the house by her maid’s husband. This man, though clothed in coarse garments, was of regal bearing. He did not look as if he was from the Jewish priestly community who were easily identified by their fancy robes. He, nevertheless was treated reverently and she saw him being invited to enter the room where she presumed the girl’s body lay. As he was about to enter he looked around and though her eyes met his momentarily, Claudia was sure he didn’t notice her. She saw him whisper to her maid and her husband and then the three of them moved into the room.

In the meantime, the wailing of the mourners continued and some were questioning the propriety of inviting this man to see a dead girl. All this did not last very long as the man emerged in a short time and did not look as if he was mourning the dead, rather he looked serene and composed. Radiating love, thought Claudia.

Soon the father appeared and signalled to the mourners to stop their wailing and behind him walked his wife, Claudia’s maid, and she was holding the little girl’s hand as the girl walked behind her. There was an audible gasp as the mourners realised the girl who was dead was now alive and walking with her mother. The relief felt by Claudia was not describable but she spoke hurriedly to her maid and left.

Back at home, more than the incident of the resurrected girl, what was haunting Claudia’s mind was the man who was brought there and who obviously brought the girl back to life and Claudia lost no time in finding out who he was.

Before coming to Judea, Claudia was in Rome, a beautiful young lady who had a lot going for her. She was well educated and from a well-connected family in Rome, the only girl in the family, Claudia was sister to two brothers who doted on her. Despite her obvious plusses what was disappointing for the family was her friendship with Pontius, a young man who studied with her. The friendship later blossomed into a love affair and being the determined person Claudia was, she insisted that she marries Pontius and no other.

Pontius was not the studious type nor well connected like Claudia was. But what he lacked in wisdom or connections, he made up through his single-minded pursuance of any goal he set for himself.

He was determined about two things. One was his desire to marry Claudia - but no one will ever know if that was also driven by his determination to achieve the other goal – and the second one was to rise to be a governor of a Roman province.

With both Claudia and Pontius determined that they should marry each other, they did so with their parents’ consent, although it must be said that Claudia’s parents gave their consent with reluctance.

Eventually Pontius did achieve his dream of being governor, when through Claudia’s parents’ connections he was appointed governor of Judea and came there with Claudia and had their first child there. Though her husband’s dream was achieved, Claudia was not entirely happy. She always felt that the inhabitants were different from those of other Roman provinces. These people, the Jews, were far too independent for her liking, had their own king and did not have much regard for Caesar in Rome and much less for his governor in their province. However, it was different with her maid who was hired to help look after her son.

This woman was knowledgeable and had a lot of home spun wisdom which helped Claudia take care of the child, the real joy in her life. The incident where the maid’s daughter was brought back to life happened not very long after the maid was engaged to look after her baby.

After a few months of the incident Claudia heard from her maid that the man who haunted her memory and about whom she heard from time to time, had been arrested and was to be brought before her husband, the governor, the next day.

That night she had a dream about this man called Jesus who had raised her maid’s daughter, calling her to cross a river. What river, why cross it, why her, she never understood but the dream was about a slow flowing river which suddenly turned bloody and across the river of blood was standing Jesus calling her.

That the dream upset her would be an understatement. The hastily scrawled note sent to her husband the next morning, pleading with him not to have anything to do with Jesus, showed the extent to which the dream upset her. Although she knew that her message reached Pontius, she later heard of how he washed his hands and gave into the popular demand of the crowd and ordered him crucified.

Claudia felt devastated on hearing of the judgement Pontius had given and the death of Jesus, but what she did not understand was why she should be so affected by this one judgement her husband had given. Pontius after all, had given many judgements to crucify criminals and she had heard of this man only a few times and seen him only once.

In his time as governor, Pontius was not known to be popular among the Jews and his stock with Rome had also come down due to a rebellion in Judea which Pontius had dealt with harshly not too long ago. Perhaps he wished to gain popularity through giving into the Jews’ demands this time around she thought, but she would never know for he never discussed it ever again.

Never did Claudia see her husband as he was before this one judgement and in fact, it seemed that he was mentally affected by this judgement and soon started to take irrational decisions in dealing with the province of Judea and finally fell out of favour with the Emperor and was recalled to Rome.

It was steady decline from then on in his relationships with his superiors as well as with Claudia. Not long thereafter Pontius Pilate was dismissed and Claudia took increasing consolation pouring all her attention to her son and also to following the deeds of the disciples of the man who was crucified, Jesus. The man they also called the Christ.

It certainly was ironic, thought Claudia that news about the followers of the crucified Jesus was spreading in Rome while the Roman Governor who gave judgement over him was a nervous wreck.

When ultimately Pontius, in his demented state committed suicide, it did not surprise Claudia and though mourning the death of her husband she did not feel any sense of loss.

About a year later, while she was worryingly trying to nurse her son back to health from an illness the doctor had said could be fatal, she had a dream that was similar to the one she dreamt the night before Jesus’ condemnation by her husband.

Jesus was standing on the opposite bank of a river of dark murky water – a river again but no blood this time – and calling her again. But as she started moving towards the river bank she hit her foot against a large boulder and as she fell against it, she felt it icy cold, which woke her. To her dismay she found that it was the cold body of her son she was embracing and he had died while both were asleep.

Claudia took a long time recovering from the loss of her beloved son but time helped her recover from the deep sorrow she felt.

It wasn’t only time that helped her recovery, but it was also her own efforts to follow the work of Jesus’ disciples and their persecutions. In addition to merely following their persecution she also learned about why they would go to their death happily for their master, Jesus. Having seen the miracle of the raising of her servant’s child to life Claudia’s readiness to accept the disciples’ preaching that he had risen from the dead, did not come as a surprise. And the more she learned about him the more inclined she was to be convinced by his teaching.

Looking back on her life. all she could think was how on that fateful Friday her husband Pontius had given up Jesus to be crucified and how His subsequent resurrection had changed her life. She couldn’t help but feel that the only reason she could spend her life with a sense of calmness was because she had come to accept His teaching, which to her was wisdom incomparable with what she had learned from Roman teachers. It came to a point that she felt she was a Christian, a label given to the followers of Jesus by the Romans while persecuting them as He was also known as the Christ.

She often recalled of her dream the night before Jesus was crucified and was convinced that the river she was invited to cross was the river of sorrows and tears that had been her lot before she started believing in His resurrection from the dead and accepting His teaching.

As Claudia would confide to some of her friends and even dared write to them, while her mind argued the improbability of a human being resurrected from the dead, in her heart she was convinced about Jesus’s resurrection and that conviction afforded her quiet happiness, despite all that life had thrown at her.

Claudia even felt she could shout out and declare that He is risen.

And then she dreamt of the river again. This time the river was of crystal clear water. As before, standing on the opposite bank was Jesus calling to her. This time His clothes were dazzling white as if the sun shone from his clothes, as if He Himself was the sun. Unlike before this time she was able to cross the river.

The next morning the servant found Claudia’s body, peaceful in death and with a smile on her face. "It’s as if she was sleeping and dreaming a happy dream", the servant confided to another.

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