Monday, August 11, 2008

A story of love

I and my kids have a game that we play when we take drives together. They join me during weekends on errands that have to be done and we play this game. We call it the game of imagination. In this game we take on imaginary roles and tell our tales. Usually we are rain drops, dew drops, little pebbles, rainbows, rivers etc. And we always enjoy each others tales. Last week end we decided to play the game a little differently. We decided to play a character from the bible and tell our tales. So here is the tale I told them, it was told a bit differently to them considering their ages.

I intended it to be short but it grew as I started off, bear with me ..

Caution: Don't look for correctness in terms of adhering exactly to bible passages, bible chronology etc. Enjoy it as a simple tale of love ...

The story starts in a little village near Jerusalem. I little Mary was born in that village. My village was a small but beautiful place and at the edge of that village stood my house. It was not a big house, it was small house, a hut almost, but neat and beautiful. In it lived me, my mother and my father. I have only very faint memories of that time, almost like a wonderful dream. How happy it was, it feels almost like a little reflection of heaven to me. But it was so long ago and so much has happened in my life since then that the memories are faded and distant.

Then it happened, the events that changed the course of my life. I remember my father and mother talking about some dreaded disease that was sweeping through the land. Daily I heard of people going away, some times it was a neighbor, and at other times it was a relative. I never understood it clearly at that point in time. In the dark of the night, people were carried away all covered up and they never returned. One day it happened in my house too. First it was my father, he became very sick. I and my mother took care of him very lovingly. I could see the sadness and fear in my mother’s eyes. One morning I woke up, hearing my mother crying softly. Some of our neighbors came and took away my father. He never came back. Few days passed and then my mother too became more and more ill. I took care of her and a few of our neighbors helped. But one day she also went away. That day, love also slowly and silently slipped away from my life.

From that day onwards my life became dependent on the mercy of other people. For a little while I was taken care of by a few neighbors. But they slowly turned me away. I can’t blame them, we were in a poor neighborhood. One more person to feed was a great burden to them. Then on my memories are of life on the streets. I tried begging for food, but I had to go hungry to bed most of times. On the streets begging for food, I got looks of hatred, curses and slaps thrown my way rather than coins or food. I saw only eyes filled with loathing and aversion around me. During those days when night fell and I tried to sleep, hunger and tears were my companions. But along the way my heart hardened and I learned the tricks of survival. I learned how to steal, I learned how to lie like a professional and I learned how to fight for my survival. I became adept at living on the streets. As I grew up, I fell more and more into the vices of the streets.

Finally I found a way to escape from the life on the streets, sell my body. I realized that under the grime of the streets I was beautiful and I could make a living out of that. I was very much sought after and slowly those days of hunger became distant memories. I had all I wanted materially. I wore the finest of the dresses, put on the most expensive perfumes and lived a life of luxury. But love stayed away from my life.

One day one of the nightmares in the life of a woman like me came true. I was caught in the act of adultery. I was dragged through the streets to the jury of the temple priests and was condemned to be stoned to death. I looked at the faces around me and I saw only the familiar looks of hatred and loathing. Those emotions had followed me through my life and here I stood surrounded by the same emotions who had been my companions through my life. I expected nothing else from this cruel world. I was taken through the city to the outskirts. I didn't feel anything. It was a fitting end to my life. Once wretched in its hunger and lack of material possessions and now wretched in its lack of a meaning. As I was taken through the city, the crowd grew in number. They spat at me, slapped me and kicked me. I didn't feel any sadness. This was what the world had given me all these years and at the end of my life I expected nothing more.

We reached the city gates and there was the young rabbi who every one was speaking about. I too had heard him talking a few times. He talked about gods love, forgiveness, etc. Although he talked with authority and love that I have never seen in any one, I never dared to go near him fearing the crowd that was always around him. What ever he had to say, it would never apply to a prostitute like me. If he is as holy as people say, then he would never even have any thing to do with me. So I kept away from him and his crowd of followers.

The leaders in the crowd started whispering among themselves. I could not hear what it was and cared less about it. What ever they schemed, they could do nothing worse than killing me. Then they started pushing and shoving me towards the gates. Finally they threw me at the feet of the Rabbi. I didn't dare to look at his face. I didn't want any more of those despising looks from any one. The crowd started accusing me of my wrong doings. They asked Jesus what they should do with me. I heard quite a few shout Kill Her !!! They were shouting at Jesus to condemn me. I expected the condemnation at any moment. Laws of Moses dictated killing of women like me by stoning it seems. A rabbi like him would now pronounce the same what else can I expect. I looked down on to my bruised hands. My body was in pain from the kicks and blows that has been inflicted. I needed nothing, but a quick end to this suffering.

Suddenly I realized, the young Rabbi was kneeling on the sand beside me. I was waiting for those words of hatred to come from him. But he seemed to be silent. I looked at his face which was level with mine and he seemed to be looking at me. I was taken back by that look. In those eyes where I expected to find hatred I found some thing so beautiful, that it seared my heart with pain. That look was filled with something that I had forgotten for a long time. Love. The look from him was so filled with love that it almost crushed my heart. I could not bear that look. I cast my eyes down quickly and looked at the hot sand seared by the sun. No, I didn't want love to walk back into my life at this wretched end when it had stayed out of my grasp for so long. I can go to my end with out Love if I had lived all my life with out it.

The crowd slowly became very restive, they started shouting at Jesus and he was silent. Then I realized he was silently writing some thing in the sand. I looked at what he had written but could not make it out clearly. He continued to write beside me, I didn't know much of writing, but I knew within my heart, it was all about love. I again looked at his face. It still held that deep look of love in his eyes. There was the smile, which I am sure I had seen on my mother's face in that distant memory. Suddenly I felt deep with in my soul that longing to live. I wanted to live for at least a little while to cherish that love I saw in those eyes. A little while and then even if I died it would not matter.

Suddenly I was brought back to reality. The crowd was shouting more loudly for the rabbi to condemn me. I quenched those longings as quickly as they formed. What could this poor rabbi do even if he wanted to do some thing against a huge crowd which wanted my blood and nothing else ? I f they were asking this rabbi for his opinion it was just a ruse, a justification for their actions. They would stone me whether this Rabbi said yes or no. Suddenly i heard that voice. I had heard that voice only from a distance, speaking of love, forgiveness and other lofty things. It was a shock to hear that voice so near me. It contained an authority that I have never experienced before. As soon as he started speaking a hush fell over the crowd. I was astonished to hear what he said. He said "He who is without sin among you, let him throw the first stone at her". These words penetrated my heart like no other word ever spoken has done in my life. They seemed to have an authority of their own. It brought to my mind all the sins of my life. I cringed before them. I truly felt worthy to be stoned to death. I felt all the sorrow pent up within me all these years welling through me at that moment. It tore at the depths of my heart. And I awaited the pain of the first stone with all the repentance and sorrow in my heart. I wanted to atone for all that I had done with the pain of those stones. At the end of my life I had nothing left to offer as atonement. Nothing else, no possessions, no money, nothing, except my life. I laid it down as my atonement for my sins.

Suddenly I realized that, no stone has been cast at me till then. I raised my eyes and looked around. And what I saw astonished me. The crowd was dispersing slowly. Around me lay scattered the stones that were brought to stone me to death. At last the only ones that were left were me, the Rabbi and his followers. The Rabbi still knelt on the ground beside me. I greedily looked into those eyes. I still saw that deep love I had seen there first. He asked me lovingly. "Woman, where are your accusers? Did no one condemn you?". I wept at the immense love that flowed from him. I fell at his feet and told "No one, Lord". He looked deeply into my eyes and told me, "Neither do I condemn you. Go your way. From now on, sin no more". At that moment love came back into my life. I was left stunned on the sand there. I could not contain all the love that came rushing back into my soul. I just sat prone in the sand and wept my bitterness out. I didn't know how long I sat there. When I returned back to my senses I was alone. All that were left were those writings in the sand and the set of foot prints leading away from those writings and me. Those foot steps seemed to be leading me towards a new life. I got up from the ground with a new hope and determination to find the meaning of the new love that I had found and follow those foot steps where ever they led ....

Love and Prayers Jose

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