He was cursed with a gift. Their pain penetrated his heart; their burdens consumed his soul. And yet he was given a choice. He could escape, if he so desired.
In the shadows of the night, a decrepit figure approached—a frail woman, hunched and broken. Alluring voices bid the man to turn and run, but a still small voice prevailed. Touching her gently on the shoulder, he groaned in agony. His back slowly curved while hers straightened; his knees grew weak while hers were strengthened. She walked to the light as he cowered in the darkness. There was no turning back.
A cry arose in the distance. In the glow of the moonlight, a young mother held her sick child. The boy’s face was disfigured, his body deformed. Through veils of falling snow, the man approached—tears staining his frozen cheeks. His shaking hand touched the boy’s brow. The mother watched as her child’s face and body became like new, while the man’s contorted beyond recognition.
He hobbled away--touching the sick as he went along. With each touch, the man was increasingly disfigured as those he touched were healed.
Soon, none could bear to look upon him. The people of the village called him “the ugly man”—taunting him whenever he walked by.
“Forgive them, for they know not what they do,” the man would whisper in reply.
The plague came in the thick of winter. None were spared from its grip. As the village lay writhing in silent agony—the man went from home to home, his frail hands working their fragile miracle.
It was spring when they found him. The disease that had threatened to consume them had ravaged his body. But in his hands, they found a crumpled note: “I have found life, and it is beautiful.”
The people of the village came for miles to see his resting place, each offering a flower in remembrance. His grave became a garden more beautiful than their eyes had seen—with fragrant lilies crowning the stone that bore his memory.
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