While I slunk in the shadows before sunrise to meet in secret, I didn’t know it would be my day to die. There was no spark of intuition. The dark veil over my transgression brought me comfort, made me invincible.
Then they dragged me out into the light of day. Alone.
My lover was left behind, as they elbowed me down the dusty road. My accusers’ jeers rang in my ears like death tolls. I knew the punishment to come. I had seen it before. I had watched the stones fly as the adulterers cowered in a futile attempt to cover their heads. I had watched the blood spatter the ground until there was no life left. But, never had I seen someone punished alone.
Onlookers peered out of windows. I shrank by the moment until I was an insignificant speck of road dirt. My legs shook. A roaring buzz started in my ears as the world began to sway. My knees buckled.
One of them jerked me upright, and shook me by the shoulders. “On with you. Don’t be faint of heart now, little harlot. You made your choice. It’s time to pay your fare. We’ll see what the “Rabbi” will make of you.”
I clutched my scant clothes around me, insufficient to cover my shame. There was a crowd gathered in the square. Had my stoning been announced before my arrest?
Shoved hard from behind, I skidded across the ground. The grit bit into the flesh of my hands. I choked on dust. My heart rammed against its cage, and black spots blipped in my view. I could barely make out my sentencing over the odd buzzing in my ears. Then, the world came into sharp focus when my gaze landed on the sandaled feet beside me.
Beside me? Who would be beside me at such a time as this?
Something in the atmosphere shifted. A glimmer grew inside me, overtaking the stain on my soul. It must be him, the one of whom I’d heard all the rumors. I dared to lift my head, though terrified of the contempt I would find on his face.
It was a terrible thing to behold, but he was not looking at me. He looked at my accusers.
He knelt in the sand, and looked into my eyes beholding every sinful moment of my life. I could see entire galaxies in his. Jesus.
Then he began to write in the dust.
Though unable to read, I knew it was my sin on the ground. The priest always wrote the broken law in the dust along with the names of the accused. Somehow this action, the first thing right about this odd arrest, caused the pounding in my chest to calm.
The Pharisees and Scribes still flung their indictment. Jesus stood again and said, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”
I braced myself for impact. My hands covered my face, and my breaths came in pants. If God was merciful, the first stone would steal my consciousness.
Jesus knelt and wrote again. A list of names next to mine? Whom did he accuse?
I lowered my trembling arms and dared to look across the crowd. One by one the faces of my accusers paled, and then they walked away.
Only the man who wrote my name in the sand still stood. He could cast a stone.
Instead he took my hands and said, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”
His gaze bore into mind, and traveled past the ugliness of my sin. Compassion wound itself around all the broken fragments of my soul. “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”
A young woman slipped from the crowd, and wrapped a shawl around my shoulders. I followed her, and sat.
Jesus spoke to the crowd. “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”
Light. Light. Never had my soul felt so incomprehensibly light. What mystery, that my death day became the first day of my life.