Talita kumi
by Herman Labuschagne
23 November 2013 

Today I saw something that I have been unable to forget all day long. I keep seeing it. I took a friend for an ice cream on the beach in Herolds Bay while she had an hour to kill before the arrival of a plane.


We walked to the end of the bay and stood for a while to look across the tidal pool. In the shallows I noticed a handsome young boy that was sitting quietly in the shallow water. After a while the little boy started walking across the rocks towards his mother. He walked with the utmost of care – almost painfully slowly and very nervously. She watched his approach with the anxious attention that only a mother can have.


A minute or two later his caring mother came closer to take his arm and steady him across the rocks. Then he turned around to face the water again – almost as if he was afraid of it. His mother gave him a little nudge from behind and he plunged forward as if that nudge had suddenly enabled him to overcome his fear. He acted like a three year old, but he looked about 7 or 8 to me. From time to time he would stand up and just shake his hands repeatedly. He was so excited but he did not know how to show it.


The little boy’s appearance seemed perfectly normal to me, but his actions clearly revealed that he was different. I kept thinking about the boy for hours afterwards. The ocean’s tide took my mind far out to sea, to a story that took place in a far-distant country. It happened 20 centuries ago that a certain man’s 12 year old daughter lay dying. In desperation he went to find a famous young man who was known for his ability to heal the sick. When he found him, he beseeched the man to come to his daughter’s aid and save her.


It took a long time to walk back to the mean’s house. When then young man finally reached her, he was told that the little girl had already passed away. But the young man was not perturbed.

“The child has not died, but is asleep,” he told them.

At this the people just laughed at him. They knew that she was definitely dead already, and the young man clearly was mistaken.


Unshaken, the young man went to the little girl’s room. There he closed the door and took her hand.

And then he said to her: “Talita kumi,” which is to say, “little girl, arise!”

At this, the little girl arose to life – as healthy as the day she was born. The stranger ordered that she should be brought some food. And then He went along His way. We don’t know the little girl’s name, but her story will never be forgotten.


I looked at the little boy in the water this morning, and wished that as it happened 2,000 years ago, someone could have somehow taken his hand and helped him up out of the water – healed and healthy as any boy his age should be. I would have wanted that to be a gift to him, to his mother – and to the world – even if his story should never be known.


And then I remembered that such a time is coming. It was spoken of by a man who lived over 2,700 years ago about a time that will be come in our own generation. At that time the lame will “leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert.” It is the time to which all who have ever shed a tear have been looking forward to, whether they knew it or not.


In that very time the same man who raised up that little girl, will be there again to heal every blind eye, ever deaf ear, every unmoveable limb – and every special little boy who can only walk across the ocean’s rocks with great difficulty and much fear. I await that time with great anticipation. Especially after today.