The fright had not yet drained from her eyes as they made their retreat.
Her dark kohl smudged eyes, looking worn and tired and resigned,
had not noticed their leaving,.
Instead, she huddled there, her heartbeat pounding in her ears
like a doe at the end of a hunt, wounded,
waiting for the last sharp blow that would carry her away into the darkness.
Yet, and yet.
How the chaos of her day faded, breath by breath.
A moment too many had passed, something had changed.
Finally, she shifted, daring to move, clutching her torn dress tightly.
Unbelieving at first, she noticed the rocks,
the rocks meant for her, the tools of her death scattered upon the sand.
Hope unsought, unexpected caught at her throat.
Glancing up, she saw him,
looking at her with a kindness that held no glimmer of lust
or lewdness or distaste or abuse,
a hand that helped her to her feet,
and the soft voice that offered new life.
O Lord, all of us are as guilty as she, deserving to be caught in the act,
pulled by rough, unforgiving hands to the place of our execution,
for we are all sinners, deserving to be displayed for what we are,
deserving to feel the stone's bite.
Yet and yet, O Lord,
you are our help when the darkness threatens,
our sure protector who lifts us out of the sands of death
O Lord, no matter how deep our stained souls,
if we are willing to look up into your loving eyes,
and like she did, find newness of life in your loving hands.
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