Jagged pebbles bit into her bruised elbows and knees. Prostrate before the Rabbi, the stones were no less sharp than the open wounds lacerating her soul. “Make it stop. Make it stop,” she inwardly cried. “Let me wake up from this nightmare.”
A scream filled the air. Who could utter such a fearful noise, full of horror and unmitigated shame? Her own mouth gaped wide – dust quickly sticking to blackened, bleeding lips. Emptiness escaped a throat already stretched wide in sorrow.
Images of the past night’s forbidden tryst, the past year’s escalating abuse, the life time of loneliness and degradation flashed before her swollen eyes. Darkened rooms. Raised fists. Lies. Rocking. Back and forth. Back and forth. Rocking. Arms clenched around curled knees. Had she ever been wanted for more than her sensual curves, alluring walk? Had she ever been needed for more than carnal, empty pleasure? Hands reached out to caress and take, undress and tear.
Hands reached out to her still. Accusing hands. Hands of justice. Blinding hands. Some of then had already witnessed her shame. Some had participated in the very acts that she now suffered for. Shaking, her Beauty bore her pain. Rocking. Back and forth. Back and forth. Rocking.
The stench of donkey manure clung to the hems of faceless guards, brushing over her prostrate form. Leather sandals prodded, mocking the torn tunic veiling her gentle nakedness. Taunts filled the air, mixing with the chorus of dignified gasps of those gathering to finally watch the stoning of Beauty.
If only they knew. If only they understood the ghosts that haunted her heart. Maybe then they wouldn’t be so quick to pick up stones. Hurl insults. Forget mercy.
Today she would remember no more. Dead would be the innocent dreams of a little girl from a simple town. Dead would be the harrowing memories of cutting words and unwanted advances. Dead would be the haunting reminders of three small graves. Dead would be Beauty.
“Just make it stop,” she murmured. Pain she could handle. Stones she was prepared for. “Just let me die. Let Beauty die.”
Rocking. Back and forth. Back and forth. Rocking. Arms clenched around curled knees. “It’s almost over now,” she knew, accepted, rejoiced.
A voice cut through the jostling crowd. “Rabbi, we caught this woman in the act. Laws have been broken. Covenants ignored. What would you have us do?”
She held her breath, lungs heaving with exhaustion.
Then she saw it.
Maybe she felt it first, sensed something changing. A hand reached out. A rough, worn hand. A strong man’s hand. Callouses from manual labor etched into sinewy fingers.
The accusers stood still. Rocking. Waiting. Arms clenched around jagged pebbles. Eyes traveling. Back and forth. Back and forth. Between her and the Master.
Hands stilled as the Hand stretched farther. It began to write, scribbling in the sand . . .
“Daughter . . .
I have long waited for this day. Pursuing you has been my childhood dream since I was a little boy from a small town. Cutting wood and fashioning cradles, I’ve known that I would one day mourn three small graves, three small coffins. Arms clenched around strong beams, images of your pain-filled soul wreaked havoc on My heart.
Sand rocking back and forth, back and forth beneath My touch . . . fasten your swollen eyes on the silent message scripted in the dirt.
Let Me embrace you, heal you, forgive you. Cling to My Rock of Refuge, and I will make atonement for your sins. My lips will bleed. My body will expose beaten nakedness. My form will rock with agonizing screams. Rejected. Spit upon. Crowds will jeer.
Beauty, Arise. Remember Mercy.”
Blood seeped through shredded cloak. She stared from behind long, dark tresses – long ago unbraided and unkept. Her rocking stilled. Pebbles dropped. She was alone in a graveyard of unthrown stones.
“Where were her accusers?”
A Hand lifted her up, wiped tears away.
“Love, My Beauty. Go and love. Dream again little girl from a small town.“
~ ~ ~
Today I stood in the Light, while the Hand scribbled love letters in the sand. Love letters to me. Love letters to my students. Love letters to those I hold close to my heart.
The Message remains strong after centuries of being spit upon, rejected, despised, beaten. . .
“Love, My Beauties. Go and love. Dream again those who have been forgotten by mercy.”
Thank you again Lauren. I have read this twice now. The second time through brought everything to life. I love you so much and I love how God worked through your hands and heart. I am so grateful to know you and trust you with my own ” arms around my knees, rocking” moments. You are truly precious and I will forever cherish our beautiful and raw moments together. You mean so much to me.