Previous Challenge Entry (EDITOR'S CHOICE)
Topic: SURPRISE( 07/25/19)
| TITLE: Skies Open |
By Caryn Jacobs
| ~ 1st Place |
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This moment was inevitable. In this community there was no way of escaping an illicit love affair without consequence. Her thoughts wondered to Calev and what would become of him. He had promised to protect her. She had pretended to believe him so that she could relish those rare moments of joy in her life. Now she wondered how the stoning would feel. Would they be merciful and strike her head first so she lost consciousness? Or would they start with her body? Her palms stung where they’d been grazed by sharp bits of gravel in the fall.
The voices ceased. Silence. Death must be imminent. Her heart thundered in her ribcage and she squeezed her eyes closed. Sucking in her breath, she savoured the earthiness now filling her nostrils for the last time. This was her last touch of reality before the afterlife, whatever that was for her. She braced herself, tightening every muscle, anticipating the first stone. It would be any second now.
There was a shift in the atmosphere; she could sense it through her entire being. She opened her eyes. A man hunched down and drew markings in the sand. She didn’t understand. Oppressive warmth from the crowd encroached upon her, shutting out the daylight. They were all waiting for something.
Then, a kind voice. Not soft. Measured. A strange calm descended on her. The voice drew her in. What did he just say?
“Let him who has no sin cast the first stone.” What? It was the man hunkering down on the sand who spoke. Who was he? A slow, exhaled breath passed through her lips as her muscles spontaneously relaxed a little. Was he challenging her accusers? Why? Who would want to do that? She was worth nothing and could give nothing in return.
As though magnetised, her face trained towards his, and their eyes met. Knowing her place, she looked away, but an intense need for more compelled her to look again. In his gaze was a gentleness that she had never encountered. Compassion. Could it be? Tears filled her eyes, her heart. Deep within her, a fortress cracked open and the warmth of compassion knocked on the door of cold, hard places in her soul.
Space opened up around her, permitting a meandering breeze to waft in with sounds from the street. All around her men walked away into the distance, one by one. She was crying now, as though a tap had turned on inside her soul. An unasked for, unexpected, undeserved trickle of freedom gushed into a river that was threatening to sweep her off her feet.
The man waited. Every accuser turned and left.
“Woman, where are they?” she heard Kindness say. She looked into the face of the one who could love her like this when she had done nothing to deserve a defender. She recognised him now. It was the one they called Messiah. No words came to her. There was no expression fit to utter in this state of awe and wonder, but it all made sense. Rivulets of tears washed the dust off her cheeks, and she shook her head in disbelief.
He spoke again.
“Has no one condemned you?”
She swallowed, looking side to side. The fullness of the blue sky reflected a new window within her soul. He had saved her. He had saved HER.
“No one, sir,” she rasped.
He smiled at her, and heaven broke through her cracked exterior to embrace her heart.
“Then neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin.”
John 8:2-11 (NIV)
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