Free From Capture: Yeshua and the Woman Caught in Adultery

Used freely, courtesy of duchesssa on stock.xchng
Used freely, courtesy of duchesssa on stock.xchng

She felt the cold air rush in on her face and graze her naked skin. She looked at her partner next to her in the bed, wicked smile starting across his lips. “You’re going to get it now, whore,” he whispered. She stared into his dark eyes, looking for a sign of humanity, a sign of life. She only saw blackness, and demons.

She had given him everything he asked, and she hadn’t even demanded a very high price. She hated the rough treatment, the constant pain in her body and mind. She felt all their glances on the street. They all knew that she was a dirty woman.

Her parents had sold her into prostitution when she was only ten years old. The midwives gave her the herbs and the treatments. All in secret. She cried with each miscarriage, each life cut short by cruel circumstance.

But then the miracle happened. The herbs didn’t take and, at age sixteen, she gave birth to her beloved daughter, the light of her life. She hid away her child, protecting her from the judgment of society and the religious leaders.

By day she shared bread and fish with her daughter, and the rare treat of an apple or some grapes. They liked to climb trees and play hide-and-seek in the warm morning sun, when people assumed her husband was busy studying Torah. She lived her own lost childhood with her daughter. A kind man knew their secret and had built them a shelter. She laid her daughter to bed there at night, and breathed a prayer of protection over her. Then she sneaked out to earn their living.

This was the only way she knew to buy a better life for her daughter. Society gave some  protection for widows, but she was only a whore with a child, never married, an illegitimate family. She knew that nobody wanted to help, so she had to fight, the only way she knew how. There were plenty of men ready to oblige.

She had continued in this life of hell for twelve years. The child was almost old enough to marry now, and, hopefully she could find a family with a son who would understand. She only had to turn a few more tricks, keep up the secret a little longer.

She knew she shouldn’t have trusted him when she saw him. He was a religious leader, a young man from the learned class. But he was handsome, and, more importantly, he had money. Lots of money. He asked her to do the deed in the morning. She had thought it unusual in daylight where people could see, but he assured her that his parents would not be home.

The sheets were soft white and the blankets rich purple. She imagined herself a queen dressed all in palace purple as she allowed him to come into her. She closed her eyes and moaned a little to please him while she pictured her daughter, a new happy bride in a happy house, sunshine filling the windows and a flourishing olive grove growing in the field. The dream of abundance swallowed up her pain.

But the icy fingers of the wind ripped her dream into shreds. The older man stood in the door, his religious robes dark against the morning sun. She tucked her head and shivered underneath the sheets. She did not cry; she had lost all of her tears when her parents abandoned her. She only thought of her daughter.

The young religious leader rose from the bed and calmly put on his clothes. “You can take her now. Do with her as you please. We’ll take care of these two trouble-makers today.”

The older religious leader came to the bed and grabbed her from the sheets. He threw her on the floor and threw her clothes on top of her. “Get dressed,” he sneered. “You know what we are going to do to you.”

The two men dragged her out of the house and down the street. They brought her to the Temple. She saw a young man teaching in the center. She had seen him somewhere before. There was a crowd whispering and talking around him. She marveled as she saw him answer a young man’s question and touch his hand. What kind of religious leader was this?

The men whisked her through the crowd and threw her at the teacher’s feet. The crowd fell silent. “We found this woman in the middle of adultery!” they proclaimed triumphantly. “Moses said in the Law to stone these kind of women. What do you say?”

The woman stared into the man’s face. He had kind eyes, a compassion she had never seen from any man. He whispered into her ear, “Don’t be afraid, I know what they’ve done to you.” He looked at the men who had dragged her in, and she saw his eyes turn to thunder.

“Well, what do you say, Yeshua?” The young religious leader sneered the name and tapped his foot impatiently. He bent down and picked up a stone from the ground. “We don’t have all day.”

The woman whispered “Are you Yeshua? The great healer?” She had heard all the stories. Hope filled her heart.

Yeshua bent down and wrote her name on the ground. He wrote the name of her daughter.

He stood up and proclaimed, “He who is without sin, throw the first stone.” The young religious leader grimaced and tightened his grip on the stone.

Yeshua bent down and wrote another name. The older man touched the young religious leader’s hand. “Let it go,” he whispered. Yeshua continued to write, name after name, sin after sin, of all of the religious leaders.

The young man and the old man turned and walked away, followed by all of the religious leaders and most of the crowd. The woman kept staring into Yeshua’s face. A dove made a mournful coo in the still morning air. What was happening?

Yeshua straightened up and looked around. “Are you the only one left? No one condemns you?”

“No, Master,” she whispered.

“Then neither do I. I know you were forced into what they call sin, but you are free from the bondage today. I have arranged for one of my disciples to care for you and your daughter. The Father loves you and has chosen you for this moment. You will be honored in heaven for your bravery.”

The woman knelt at the feet of the Master and cried.

John 8:1-11

The Soul of the Tree

The Soul of the Tree

Spring is my favorite season. I enjoy feeling the wind tickling my leaves and the sun warming my branches. I enjoy watching the flowers popping up around my roots, adding their blues, yellows, purples to the newly-green grass, like a bunch of crayons in a child’s world. Spring is innocent and new. Spring is a child.

Summer is nice, too. I especially like the summer evenings, a cool blanket of darkness chasing away the thick heat. I dream of the starry constellations carrying me away to the realm of mystery and spirit, timelessness, peace. I especially like when the owls light on my branches, their deep voices echoing the wisdom of time past and future. I have never experienced the ocean, but I have known whispers from the coastal trees, and I imagine the owls and the whales singing the same haunting songs calling for the harmony and healing on earth.

Fall is the season of color and change before the rest. As a young tree, I feared fall. I was afraid to lose my beautiful leaves and stand naked before the world. As I grew older, I learned that my leaves are only the outward part of me, providing me energy and helping me to grow, but my outside is not me.

Winter is a time of rest and rebirth. I have experienced over 100 winters on earth, as the humans measure it, but the trees measure time in cycles of growth and rest, birth, and death, and rebirth. Winter brings snow and dark and the contemplation of silence. Once in a while, I wake out of my winter revelry as a squirrel brushes my trunk with its bushy tail, or scampers up my bark in search of a place to hide his treasure. Mostly I sleep and dream.

I often dream of my young days, only a seedling. I was born in the spring. I grew up through the seasons in a forest, surrounded by my elders. I most loved listening to the stories of the pines, who never lost their leaves, and welcomed the quiet of winter. They were the prophets and listeners and told us young ones about the coming days in which the forest would be no more. They told us not to worry, though, that the ancient cycles always bring balance, and that if we someday found ourselves as a sacrifice for modernity, our souls would make the journey back to the Creator and source.

I grew up feeling the struggles of all the trees. We are connected in the life circle of earth. I feel their fear and cries as the loggers come, extinguishing our life-spark in their appetite. Sometimes they use our wood for their constructions and communications, sometimes they clear us out of the way for their farms or their cities.

Today, on a sultry summer morning, I felt the spray on my trunk, a garish red x. The building and parking lot had replaced my friends and elders long ago. Now the building needed new paint, and my branches stood in the way. I knew this would be my last starry summer night, my last time enjoying the wind in my branches. During the afternoon, a storm blew through, driving rain like teardrops from the heavens. I am sad.

There are still trees around me, older than me. I feel their whispers, “Do not be afraid on the journey. Your soul is free.”

Photo used freely, courtesy of humusak2 on stock.xchng

Caring for the Hurting

Photo used freely, courtesy of saavem on stock.xchng
Photo used freely, courtesy of saavem on stock.xchng

This is a story I wrote for a college class that I took on death and dying. I have also shared this on another blog, Although this story is fiction, it is repeated every day around the nation. We as a society have little time, patience, or compassion for the poor and the hurting. We walk by them every day in our hurry to get to our next appointment or our next job assignment.

As a Reiki practitioner and healer, it is my job to seek out the poor and the hurting and bring them healing. Everyone is called to the same healing work and compassion for their fellow human beings. This is what Jesus was talking about in his famous Good Samaritan parable.

Let the Reiki light open your eyes to Sally and her story and the stories of those all around you. Namaste.

The Tragic Death of Sally

No one remembered Sally. Perhaps no one even knew Sally. Sure, people heard of her. Her picture was splashed across the news in a dramatic end to a quiet life. A life cut short by desperation.

Sally stared at the mirror, foward, then sideways. Can you see the bulge? Perhaps if I arrange my dress this way, no one will notice. Her thoughts flitted like the sunbeams spilling through the window. Nervous. Excited.

Sally eased herself into the chair, carefully balancing her belly by slouching forward. The pastor walked by and Sally averted her eyes.
“Hey, Sal. How are you? You know, I really need that bulletin done, and can you answer some of those emails, people really are interested in the church lately, and I need…”

The stream of words stopped abruptly as the pastor’s eyes moved from Sally’s breasts to her stomach. Sally winced.

“What? What? I really thought you were better than that. Sexual immorality will not be tolerated in this place, do you hear? You are supposed to be a role model in this church.”

The walls shook at the pastor’s outburst. Sally’s mind darted back to that late night dog walk, the piercing pain, and then the darkness. A long nothingness and then a hospital room, an exam, a police report. Sally breathed back her tears and looked down at her hands. Hands that should have protected her that night. Why did she not know better?

“Get out of here. You are done. I never want to see you again. No employee of  my church will ever display such behavior.”

Sally could no longer hold back the tears. She whispered, “Without this job how can I ever support my child?”

“Go get another job you sinner! Are you thinking about abortion? You deserve to burn in hell.”

Sally ran out the door, leaving a trail of tears behind.

“I’m sorry, there are just no jobs. Are you sure that you don’t have any other experiences? Your resume is just so… bare. Have you tried the local restaurant? What about retail, fast food, anything?”

Sally bowed her head low. “I’ve tried everything, ma’am. I was hoping your agency…”

“Well, I’m sorry. The economy is tough for everyone right now. Check back in a few months.”

Department of Human Services. Sally shuddered at the sign. She pushed the door open and looked down at the slip of paper in her hands. Appointment time: 9:30am. Intake counselor: Linda.

“Are you Sally?” Sally looked up to a tired, grimacing face. “Come on back, I’ll see if I can help you.” Linda turned and walked toward the back of the office, keeping up a stream of mutters. “Geez, when will this ever end. It will be so busy again today. I know bad economy and everything, but really. Can’t people learn to take care of themselves?”

Linda plopped down at a desk and Sally eased her heavy belly into the chair on the other side. “Now I see that you are in your ninth month of pregnancy. We can open a new case for you. I can see you have little cash reserves and your need is immediate. I can get you food stamps today, and I will put you in the pre-TANF program. You will have to let me know as soon as your baby is born. With a family of two, you can get about $400 month. How is your housing situation right now? I hope you don’t pay more than $200 rent. I can put you on the wait list for Section 8 housing, but it is a three or four year wait. You know, you will have to start looking for a job when your baby is 6 months old.”

Sally stared at her hands and nodded. She thought back to the newspaper opinion article she read the day before. “Many people are turning to government assistance, using the economy as an excuse. Why should the welfare recipient work after all? The government provides everything for them. Do you know that they can even buy lobster with their food stamps? This laziness is spreading to the millions on unemployment as well. The Republicans are right to put an end to all of this and return to the principles of hard work on which our country was founded. The family is breaking apart and so many unwed mothers are causing poverty to rise…”

“I’m not lazy, am I?” Sally whispered.

Linda looked up from her paperwork. “What did you say?” she asked sharply. Sally shut her eyes in fear.

“Never mind. Just write your social security number here and fill out this other form. I’ll be back in a minute.”

Sally moaned in pain. “Just one more push. You’re almost there!” The doctor  patted Sally’s arm while the nurse placed a cloth on her forehead. Sally found her last strength and pushed.

“Congratulations! It’s a girl.” The doctor’s jubilant words were met with silence. Under his breath the doctor whispered, “Come on, baby. Just breathe.”

“Sally, we are going to take your baby down the hall,” the nurse said as she rushed out of the room.

Sally was too tired to cry, too tired to feel. This baby was everything, all she had left in the world. She buried her face in the pillow and closed her eyes.

God, she thought. You took my job, you took my house, you took my dignity. Do you have to take my baby? God, do you even exist? Why is the world so bad?

“I hear your cry, I feel you pain.” The answer came back in Sally’s fevered dream. “I have prepared heaven for people like you. Hold on. I see the sin of the world, and I will judge.”

“I’m sorry, Sally. With no child, you are no longer eligible for TANF. You can get food stamps.” Linda patted Sally’s hand, her demeanor softer than before.

“But where will I live? I was using all the money to rent a room. Now I can’t even do that.” Sally sobbed.

“Perhaps you can stay in a family shelter. Call 211 for assistance. I can’t do any more for you. I’m sorry.”

Sally left the DHS office and walked down the road to the bridge. “Into your hands I commit my spirit,” she whispered.

The evening news splashed across the town’s television screens. “Woman’s body recovered in Cangey River. People passing by tried to stop the suicidal young woman. Rescue crews were sent, but it was too late. The identity of the woman has not yet been released.”


Stop the Bleeding

Stop the Bleeding

Tears fell down her face, streams watering the fertile fields of her cheeks and mouth. She thought about that night.

That fateful, terrible, wonderful night.

Oh, she loved him. That was for sure.

But why did he have to come on to her like that? Why could she not find the strength to resist? Or did she really want to resist?

The love had overcome her, like the gentle passion of a lone candle. The passion mounted until hot lava filled her body, seeping from her ears and coursing down to her toes.

But single candles have a way of becoming wildfires. The wildfire left its mark in her swelling belly and scattering friends. Even her family threatened to disown her. How could she dishonor us like that? Didn’t we raise her better?

She had felt the quickening, the beginning of a life. She crooned love songs to the spirit growing inside of her. Perhaps this child could make everything all right again. Her lover had left after that night, gone far away on a journey. To where, she could not know. But he had left a life behind. A life that she now grew and nurtured, alone.

Suddenly, he appeared again. He shook her from her bed, ripped the blankets from her body. Moonbeams fell through the window and landed on her naked belly. He stared at the deep mound of flesh, the round mark of womanhood. This was not the young maiden he had left behind. His eyes turned the color of the night sky. His lips curled back in a sneer. The baby kicked inside of her, and the moon hid behind a cloud. She closed her eyes at his rage, bracing for the storm.

She opened her eyes again as a woman placed a warm rag on her head. She felt a burning pain in her abdomen, an emptiness where she had before felt life. No more movements came from deep inside, no more heart kept time with her own. She could not bear to look down at her belly. She could only bear to close her eyes once more. She heard the woman whisper, “Shh. Rest now. It is done.”

She slipped back into darkness. Blood filled her dreams. She screamed out for her lost child, screamed out for her own lost childhood. It was all gone now. What did she have left? She wandered through a field of blood, looking to regain something, some fragment of what was lost.

She woke up and the blood filled the sheets. She screamed out in pain and fear. The woman came and changed her sheets. The woman held her hand over the sunken belly, praying words of comfort, praying for a miracle. The blood kept coming. Sometimes a trickle, sometimes a flood. For years, the blood kept coming.

She became an outcast, a pariah forced to live among the “unclean.” She felt worthless, alone, unloved. The agony in her heart mixed with the burning in her belly. The blood was so painful. She wished she could die, wished she could go to heaven and meet the child torn from her body. She wished that night had never happened. She wished and wished, but all she could do was continue to live among the dead.

She began to hear whispers in the camp. “He is a great healer.” “He can cure leprosy.” “He can drive out demons.” “Some think he is the Messiah.”

She listened and scarcely dared to hope. “But can he help me?” she asked eagerly.

“No one can help you,” came the reply.

“You are the worst of the unclean. You broke the law of adultery, and you killed your child. Not even he can help you.”

The words pierced her soul and brought forth rivers from her eyes. She ran from the camp into the woods. She threw herself to the ground and cried out, “YHWH, save me from this hell”. The leaves rustled and a wind tickled her lips.

Suddenly, a response came back. An almost-silent whisper in her heart. “Go to him. He will heal you.”

“But I can’t do that. You heard what they said. I am a sinner and an unclean woman,” she whispered.

“Go to him. He will heal,” the voice replied.

She rose off the ground and dusted off her dress. Her clothes hung in rags around her shoulders and knees. She could not hide the bloodstains, the years of accumulated pain, the sign of her uncleaness. Shivering, she stepped forward toward the village.

“Stay away!”

“What is she doing here?”

“How dare she leave the camp. She will infect us all!”

The crowd jeered and scattered at her approach. Tears and embarrassment burned her face. Still, she kept her head high, kept her eyes looking ahead. She had to find him. This was her only chance.

Suddenly, she saw him. She walked faster. Then broke into a run. Her heart pounded in her ears, blocking out the screams of the crowd.

If only she could reach him. Just touch him. He could heal her.

She came closer and closer. She tripped over a rock and tore a gash in her knee. Fresh blood mixed with the old blood on her dress. She lifted her head and saw the hem of his robe. She reached her hand out and grasped the hem. Power surged through her body. She felt her womb close up.

The blood was gone.

Forever gone.

She looked up and locked eyes with Yeshua, and she knew that she would never be the same.

Matthew 9:20-22 20 Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. 21 She said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.” 22 Yeshua turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed at that moment.

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