Thursday, December 02, 2004
Learning the Language of Love
"He asked me to dance
and I'd never tried dancing before
I had visions of saints and angels laughing us right off the floor.
Though I protested
it just wouldn't do any good
He gently insisted and finally I told him I would.
He taught this sister to dance in a whole new way."
Jesus squatted in silence in front of the woman. When he looked up they were alone. He smoothly rose to his feet.
“Daughter of Abraham, lift up your head and look around you.”
“Then lift up your eyes at least and see who condemns you now.”
Slowly, the woman’s hand pulled her matted hair away from her eyes. Quick looks from eyes barely visible in her downturned face were all He could see. She slowly raised her head, heavy, and looked at Jesus.
His hand was raised. She cowered, expecting the blow, and a vision raced in rapid scenes. Her, beaten senseless and left to lie beside a building. Generations of women being beaten in repeated blows. A long line of women into the future being ground to dust under the bodies and decrees of black-clad churchmen. And finally, a bloody spike protruding from Jesus' upraised hand, a trickle of blood that stops as she watches. The vision ends.
“Daughter of Sarah, who is left to condemn you?”
“No one, sir.”
“Then neither do I condemn you. Go your way and be at peace.”
"Peace, he says," she thinks as she pulls her shabby robe more tightly around her shoulders, and then turns to walk away.
“Daughter. I have something to say to you before you go.”
She stopped, but she did not turn around or look up.
“Your name is worth more than this; do not dishonor it. Your life is worth more than this; do not waste it.”
The woman made a slight move with her head that might have been a nod, then started to walk again. Jesus spoke one last time.
“Daughter of Abraham, YOU are worth more than this. Go now and sin no more in this fashion. Be instead the child of God that you were meant to be.”
This time her shoulders shuddered and a soft sob was heard. And then years of contained rage, all those male attitude pounded into her, blow her self-control to pieces. She looks up, face turning to thunder, lightning in her eyes.
"How am I to do that, sir? You see what I am. You know what I don't have."
"Go talk to Joseph
Well I've talked to Joseph,
And Joseph's a man
So many things
That a woman can know
That a man never can.
So, I'm coming, Elizabeth,
'Cause you'll understand."
The hopeless look comes back to her face. Defeat. Many years of practice. "You're a man. You can't possibly understand. You just don't know. Tell me, I ask, how am I to 'go and sin no more' when I have no money, no family, and am tolerated only because of male need?"
Jesus lowers his hand. "Daughter, you have nothing. I know. But you have more than those did who accused you. They never asked me an honest question. They have only tried, time after time, to trap me. You see me. They do not. Daughter, can you believe that I can help you?"
"Promises. They all do that so that I'll be there for the next time. When they're done, so is the promise." Some fire has come back to her face.
"Daughter of Sarah, I promise. Your life will change."
A fragment of the vision returns: the spike through His hand, His hanging body. She looks at him again. "How can I dare?" The spark of hope that shone briefly dims, and she turns to run.
"Daughter, I promise."
It's too much. How can she dare to believe? One more promise. And how would he ever change her life? He's back there someplace, standing amid words written in dust. With distance comes some calm, and some memories. Stories of this man. Repeated whispers about him healing the sick. People who run into him seem to change. Iron-willed Pharisees become even more obdurate, but little people get changed in unpredictable ways.
Can one encounter change a life? A little bit of belief is still belief, and it can grow.
"He Asked Me To Dance" and
"I'm Coming, Elizabeth" by Ken Medema