A crowd of men push and shove me outside, tearing at my clothes, slapping my head. Their deep voices swirl around me from every direction, angry and taunting. The dark tone rumbles at me, thirsty for my blood.
I try to wrap my half-dressed body with my shawl to preserve what little modesty I have left. The suddenness of being discovered in the bed of my lover has not allowed me even time to think, but I know that condemnation will have its cruel way.
My heart races and chugs, pounding against my rib cage, pleading to jump out of my chest and run far away.
Clouds of dust boil about our feet as the mob rolls forward to the temple. The many sets of dusty sandals rush in unison, stomping like a judge wielding a gavel.
“Guilty!” The scribes scream out.
“Condemned!” The Pharisees spit out the word.
Hope has spread its wings and flown away. Hatred settles on me, like a buzzard taking up permanent residence.
The swells of their roaring deafen me.The roughness of their righteous indignation drown me.
Their hands throw me forward. My shoulder scrapes the uneven rocks first, tearing at my flesh. The jolt smacks my side and continues cutting down my leg.
I reach out to stop the momentum, but my hand is crushed by a sandaled foot. I lay my head down and watch the dirt and my blood mingle together on the ground.
My head has become a heavy melon. I cannot see through the black veil of my mangled hair.
My heart wrings itself dry of tears. Regret consumes me as I surrender to their hands. My guilt waits for the sharp sting of justice, ushering death. I brace myself for the pounding of the rocks, which I know will follow.
Seconds pass. Nothing.
Voices raise poignant questions through the air. “The Law of Moses says to stone her . . . what do you say?”
I inhale another weak breath through my mouth, pressed hard into the dirt.
I hear a voice, full of authority. “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.”
Where are the stones that should be crushing my head? Are they planning something more painful? What are they doing? My entire body throbs.
Stones begin sounding as they fall to the earth.
I cringe and gasp for my last breath.
Now I feel the ground vibrate with sandaled footsteps. I hear the creak of leather coming closer and can discern the outline of a man’s foot.
I raise my heavy head up enough to peer at him through my hair. My eyes focus. Surprise jolts through me as I look into his face. I know this man.
Liquid love oozes from his chocolate eyes. Compassion flows from his smile. Holiness bathes his being, making me even more ashamed of myself. How can he look on me—an adulteress? I am not worthy of his attention.
He speaks to me. “Woman, where are they?”
I push up a little, looking around for the first time. I’m outside the temple, and the men have disappeared. Only He is before me.
He continues to question me. “Did no one condemn you?”
“No, Lord.” I speak with shock in my voice, still not comprehending what has happened.
“Neither do I condemn you. Go your way and sin no more.”
He pulls me to my feet. The touch of His hand electrifies my entire body. All my pain dissolves and I am bathed in total peace. My torn flesh is now whole.
He turns and walks inside the temple. I watch him with a clean heart, washed and dressed in the newness of gratitude and hope. Yes, I will sin no more. I am overcome, amazed that I am alive.
I begin to step toward home, when I see writing on the ground. I look down as I walk past words written in the dirt. I stop to read them.
I will never be the same.