If a man is found sleeping with another man’s wife, both the man who slept with her and the woman must die. You must purge the evil from Israel. If a man happens to meet in a town a virgin pledged to be married and he sleeps with her, you shall take both of them to the gate of that town and stone them to death—the girl because she was in a town and did not scream for help, and the man because he violated another man’s wife. You must purge the evil from among you. -Deuteronomy 22:22-24
She knew the law. She knew she was doing something wrong. Nobody violated her. Nobody forced her. Somehow, in the middle of it all, she let herself be carried away by love and the thoughts of love and the rebelliousness of it all. She was a good girl. Smiles and loyalty were what she gave to her friends. She was a girl’s girl, but got caught up in the flair of it all. The secrets of a love affair.
The morning sun poked through the curtain and her stretch arched her body closer to him. His snore made her smile and wince at the same time. He was not hers. She should not know what his snore sounds like. What his hands feel like. She pulled away from him and felt her shoulders draw in to her body as shame made it’s way across her usually sunny face.
“Dear Father,” she prayed, “please help me. I love him.”
She knew she was sinning and hated it. Every moment that they shared was robbed by the dark shadow of sin. Loving him wasn’t the plan in an affair that had no plans. She didn’t want to sin anymore, but could not make herself not love him. Every poem, song and little girl’s dream danced inside of their love, but it was encased in sin and she had to walk away.
And then her prayer was answered. In the worst way possible.
The door crashed open. There was so much yelling and rushing toward her. Her lover fell out of bed and was stuck under a boot on the floor.
She needed his eyes.
They grabbed her and pulled her to her feet. He screamed at them, but they were beyond hearing. Her heart pounded her sentence. She knew she was going to die. Just like this. Naked.
They grabbed her lovers robe and threw it over her as she was pushed through the door and out into the street. She looked back to find him and they locked knowing eyes. This was the last time they would see each other alive. Her heart broke when she caught the smell of him on his robe.
The religion scholars and Pharisees led in a woman who had been caught in an act of adultery. They stood her in plain sight of everyone… -John 8:1
This is it. They drug her out in the street as the crowd gathered. She was terrified and worried about him. She looked for him. He can’t see her die like this.
“Please, Father, don’t let him see me die like this.”
A few of them went up to a man in the street. It was Jesus, the prophet. The man who touches blind eyes to make them see. The man who speaks four words and the lame walk. But, what can he do about sin? What can this man with dirty feet and messy hair do about the law? Nothing.
They formed a circle around her and told him what she had done. She lowered her head to hide her face behind her hair. She can’t even argue on her behalf. They were right about her. She did those things. She listened to them make something ugly out of what didn’t feel ugly. They spoke in venomous spit about her love. Making her hate herself. Making her see her sin for what it was.
She watched a tear fall and make a puff of dust rise at her feet. She didn’t want the earth to move because of her. She wanted to disappear. She moved her toes to cover her foot and kept her shoulders tucked in.
A body draws in to itself in order to protect it. Like an infant only a few hours old, like a child bracing himself against a hit, like a little girl when she’s sick, like a woman in labor, like an old man on the edge of death. Her body drew into itself. Only this time, her mother couldn’t run to her and her father couldn’t use his booming voice to be more frightening than what frightened her. She was alone. She deserved what she was about to get.
She has flashes of who she was and who she could have been. She wished that somebody could come inside of her and feel what she felt. That she wasn’t a bad person, that she was sorry.
When Jesus heard about her sin, something made her look up. He had kind eyes, normally, and if she saw anger in them, it would crush her. It would solidify her despair. Hopeless and weak, she looked up to catch his eye.
They looked pained. Oh, that’s so much worse. His eyebrows furrowed and he winced. His eyes watered and he shuddered from his belly to his shoulders.
That’s what crushed her. The look on his face told her that she did this to him. She didn’t just do this to herself, her lover, or her own spouse, her friends. She did this to him. Her stomach cramped and her knees gave. The men holding her tightened their grip.
“Moses, in the Law, gives orders to stone such persons. What do you say?” -John 8:5
She watched as knuckles became white around stones she hadn’t noticed before. She imagined them hitting her. She would almost welcome it. A different kind of pain. She pictured them hitting her legs and her back. But when she pictured them hitting her neck or her eye, she began to shake. She was so afraid.
Her mother made her a dress when she was a little girl. The dress was so itchy, but she wore it anyway because it made her mother happy. She used to put flowers in her hair and dance in the field while her father worked. She pretended she was a princess and would one day be carried away by a prince in an exotic land. She made her father laugh with her stories of taming lions and singing in a choir of birds.
Where was her daddy now? She needed to be seen for who she really is. Not the mistake that she made, but for the little girl that she used to be. She was panicking. None of these men knew her. All of the women looked at her in disgust. She wanted to walk out of her skin and show them that she agreed. She hated what she did and they were right! But she was stuck. Her skin would not open up and let her out. And so…
The sound of feet surrounded her. The heavy breath of religion and law beat down on her like the sun. The devil poised to pounce and drag his victim home.
“Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger in the dirt. They kept at him, badgering him.”– John 8:6
Why won’t he answer them? We all know what the law says. She watches him through her hair, trying to keep her convulsing body from being heard.
He straightened up and said, “The sinless one among you, go first: Throw the stone at her.” -John 8:7
They all stood up straighter. Confusion started whispering among them.
Bending down again, he wrote some more in the dirt. -John 8:8
Puffs of dirt began rising to the rhythm of thump as the rocks hit the ground. One by one, the men turned on their heels and walked away.
She stood in shock and confusion. She dared not move. And then, for the first time, he spoke to her.
“Where are they? Does no one condemn you?” -John 8:10
Is this a trick? He can see for himself that I am guilty. I am barely covered by a robe… But they left. They all walked away.
“No one, Master.”
“Neither do I,” said Jesus. “Go on your way. From now on, don’t sin.” -John 8:11
Sometimes it’s hard to not wish for the actual punishment to fall on me. If I could pay for my sin, then maybe I could be free of it. Free from others. But the punishment for my sin fell on someone else. He paid for my sin. He set me free from it. He set me free from you. You who can only see my sin, but not the cross.
I once wore the robe of shame. No covering for my sin. And then he covered me, he forgave me and he covers me in a white wedding dress. White. He adorns me in a white wedding dress and I dance with flowers in my hair for my Father.