Monday, September 13, 2010

Put Down Your Stones

Perhaps she had never been loved by anyone. Her father had beaten her, her husband ignored her, and he was the only man who held her gently, kissed her passionately, and told her she was loved. He made her feel alive and made her feel like in these huge wide world little insignificant her mattered. When she was with him she felt peace and joy for the first time in her short life.

And so she crawled into his bed- wouldn't you?

And now she's kneeling on the dirt, clinging to the thin sheet wrapped around her. Surrounding her are angry people lightly throwing their stones from one hand to another, just waiting to throw them at her. She could almost feel the cold stones pounding against her exposed body. Her knees dug into the dirt, her arms hugged her body fiercely, and every part of her shook in fear and dread. They had dragged her out into a large crowd and she struggled to hide her face behind her sheet, for fear that she would see someone she knew in the crowd. She could not even fathom the humiliation she would feel if that happeneed.

There was a man standing in front of her and the Pharisees were addressing him,

"Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?"

Her body shook more fiercely as her mouth became dry and heart started to beat in pure terror. She watched the man's feet, afraid to look up into his face, for she was convinced she would see nothing by condemnation there. His knees bent and he stooped down and began writing in the dirt with his finger. All the eyes that had been drilling into her now shifted to this teacher. She took a deep breath in the absence of those eyes and as she quickly glanced up she caught the teacher's gaze. He smiled at her, quickly and privately. It was gentle and loving. She had no idea how to react.

He had looked her in the eyes when all she wanted was to hide her face in shame. Her had stooped down to her level when all she wanted was to dissapear into the ground in hiding. He smiled at her when she was too afraid to even cry.

"If any of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her," He spoke to the crowd. This was it, this was when she expected to feel the stones. Instead she heard them fall to the ground, not into her flesh. All around her, one by one the stones fell, settling into the dust, and forming a circle of stone around her. The teacher once again bent down and continued writing in the dust. He was on the ground with her.

He looked her in the eyes and said, " Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?"

For the first time she dared to raise her eyes and look around her as she realized everyone had left. It was just her and the teacher. Her fear lessened but didn't fully retreat as she wondered if the teacher still had plans to punish her himself.

"No one sir, " she whispered.

He looked into her eyes once more, and replied, " Then neither do I condemn you, go now and leave your life of sin."

She was free. She was forgiven. She was loved. She looked into those eyes and saw a future for herself, a new life where she would be valued and find joy. She left with the faith that she would see that future come to pass.


It is so easy to condemn the mothers who abandon their children, the fathers who don't take their responsibilities seriously, the grandparents who hurt and abuse the children in their care. I need to be reminded daily to put down my stone and look on them with love. At the end of the day we are all hurting and sinful people. I have no idea what had happened to them that brought them to that place.

"For I was hungry, while you had all you needed. I was thirsty, but you drank bottled water. I was a stranger, and you wanted me deported. I needed clothes, but you needed more clothes. I was sick, and you pointed out the behaviors that led to my sickness. I was in prison, and you said I was getting what I deserved."
Taken from A Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns