Bleed (Part 6)

The woman frantically began trying to put her self back into order. Finding a small basin in the alley that must have been used for ceremonially cleansing, she saw her reflection in the rippled water. Dust and blood had run down the left side of her face, and then had dried there while she listened to the soldiers. She hurriedly pulled out the worn scrap of cloth she used each day and began wiping away the mess left on her face. Dipping the filthy rag into the small basin, her reflection was shattered, leaving her to work blindly.

“Filthy woman!” the beggar’s voice seemed to shout in her head. “Unclean and worthless. No one can heal you, and no one will love you.

Dipping the bloody rag into the basin, she continued desperately scrubbing at her face. Red, wispy spirals floated through the basin, making it impossible to see if she was making any progress. She could hear the crowd that surrounded Jesus getting closer. Time was running out, but she couldn’t face him like this.

“My work reveals your secret.” the beggars voice continued. “They’ll all see you for the filth you are.” The memory of his terrible laugh stole her breath, but she pushed the voice away and continued to work.

Dropping the ragged and ruined cloth into the basin, she began to dry her face on the inside collar of her clothes. Desperately hoping she wouldn’t miss Jesus, she worked quickly to make herself presentable. Straightening her head covering, she stood and faced the opening to the alley. She could see a few children running across the opening now, back and forth as they stayed just ahead of the procession. The crowd was quite loud now. How many people were following Jesus to Jarius’ daughter?

As she glanced down one last time to straighten her clothes, she noticed a dark red spot on the dusty cobblestones in front of her. While she stared down at it, another crimson drop joined it. A moment later, another drop of blood fell. The wound on her head had reopened. Her heart sank as she saw the fringes of the crowd begin to pass by the alleyway.

“Unclean! You’re still unclean and everyone will know! You’ll never be healed now!” she heard in the cruel voice of the beggar.

It was true, she was unclean. Jesus couldn’t dare heal her like this. It went against all of their customs, all of their beliefs. Worse yet, she was a thief and could never repay those she had stolen from. She became sick to her stomach as the realization that Jesus would pass her by sank in. She fell to her knees in the alleyway, and buried her face in her hands as more people passed her small opening by. Wasn’t twelve years of suffering enough? Would she never be free? No one saw her in the shadows, no one stopped to ask her what was wrong.

The noise of the crowd had changed now. It became somehow softer, like a solemn moment was passing, like the gentle dripping calm after a rain. In spite of herself, the woman looked up to see what was happening. The man Jesus was just passing the opening. She knew it was him the moment she saw him. Who else could that man be, but the man they called healer? As he strode into view, his head gently turned towards her alley, and his eyes seemed to seek hers. It was all she could do to not turn away from his piercing eyes. It was only a moment that they held eye contact, but in that moment the memories of her own father looking at her in the exact same way exploded in her mind. A small smile played across Jesus’ face just before he was hurried forward by the crowd around him.

Joy bloomed in the pit of her stomach, a sudden warmth chasing away the cold fear that had taken root there. That man loved her. She had seen it in his eyes.

Suddenly she heard once more the soft voice from before. “You’d better hurry, daughter. Or you’ll miss me!”

“But Jesus, you know I am unclean!” the woman silently responded to the voice in her head.

“Yes, but it isn’t the healthy who need a healer.” Jesus’ voice spoke to her.

“I’m unworthy my lord. I’ve done terrible things.” the woman continued. “I’ve stolen from those who fed me when I was hungry, who took me in when I was without a home.”

“I have come to seek and save that which is lost.” was the response.

“But lord, I don’t deserve to be healed, I don’t deserve to be saved.” the woman pleaded.

“Those who seek, find.” the voice replied.

“Jesus, how can this be?” the woman protested. “How could you possibly forgive me for all that I have done?”

“Come and follow me.” finished the soft voice.

She pushed her way out from the alley way into the thick crowd. She caught a glimpse of the soldiers left to stand guard pressed against the walls by the mass of people following Jesus. Once more struggling to see over the waves of people, she swam through the crowd, pushing and fighting her way forward . The joy that was suddenly hers overpowered the fear of discovery, overwhelmed her sense of caution.

As the minutes passed and she continued to struggle through the crowd, she found she was drawing closer to the man Jesus. 10 people away. Just 5 people away now. She now recognized Jarius beside Jesus, the young man who had lead Jarius standing on Jesus other side. Just a few more people stood between her and him. Slipping between them, she quietly fell to her knees behind him as the stopped crowd in front of them slowed Jesus’ progress.

She reached out and touched the hem of his garment.

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