I clutched the worn, thin blanket tighter around my shoulders, hoping for some semblance of warmth. This blanket and the ragged clothes barely covering my body were all I had.
Banished from my village ten years ago, this was all I had left of what I had taken with me when I fled – fear kept me from going back to see my family, my friends. I hadn’t seen them at all these ten years.
It was against the law for anyone to be within six feet of me, 150 feet if there was a wind. So, they chose to stay away from me completely. I suppose it was easier. I mean, I wonder how I would feel if one of my family members were in my condition and every time they came into the village to scrounge for food, and I heard them crying out, “Unclean. Unclean.” I’m sure I would be humiliated – not wanting anyone to know they were my kin.
I’d gotten used to this life – almost. The pain of loneliness never really went away, but after ten years, well, I did what I had to do to exist. Sometimes some kind soul would leave food outside my cave while I was inside sleeping. So, along with that, and the food I gathered from the scrap heaps I managed to stay alive. Barely.
This dreaded disease was slowly eating away at my body and I didn’t know how long I had left… At times the pain was unbearable as my nerves were gradually destroyed. But worse than that, was the hurt of not being touched. Ten years I had gone without touch. Ten years.
Can you imagine the anguish I felt? No human touch. None. I hated what this leprosy had done to me. Hated it.
There was sometimes murmuring among the leper colony of a man named Jesus who could heal us, but I’d never seen Him. I told myself that if I ever did, I would ask Him to make me clean. I had no doubt.
That chance came one overcast day as I was walking toward town to forage. I don’t know how I knew, but I did, that this man was Jesus. There was something about the way he carried Himself and the look in His eyes.
I knelt before Him and said, “If you’re willing, you can make me clean.”
The look of compassion in His eyes astounded me, but not as much as what He did next. He reached out and touched me, and said, “I am willing. Be clean.”
Did I hear Him right? He was willing?
He touched me. Me, the unclean man who had bells fastened to the end of my garments so people would know when I was coming… as if my yelling out wasn’t enough!
The pain immediately left my body – I felt whole for the first time in years and my skin… my skin! It was clear. Just like that I was clean!
Joy flooded through me and despite Jesus’ warning to tell no one, but to go show myself to the priest, I went running into the village and told everyone I saw… “Look at me! I’m clean! Jesus touched me and I’m clean!”
What a delightful reunion it was when I was returned to my family. How could I hold anything against them after what Jesus had just done for me?