It took a lot out of me to write this. It was painful and yet strangely healing. But I felt inspired by listening to what my classmates had written. So, in the spirit of being honest and open--and to prove that I actually do work in seminary--I thought I'd share what I wrote. Many thanks to Melanie and Becky for listening and giving suggestions over coffee :o)
I stare warily at the cup coming toward me,
the sanguine liquid within a reminder of the very thing I have tried so
desperately to forget.
My life had been one of privilege: a solid upbringing, a suitable marriage.
I was content to begin a life of bearing children.
The first died before birth, and I had collapsed, weeping, in my husband's arms.
The second one died before they had even cleaned him off.And then the bleeding started.
Its unpredictability meant that I could not venture into public for fear I would make things impure, unclean.
I did not mind; I didn't want to see their pitying looks or to hear the
whispers that trailed after me as doggedly as a shadow.
The physicians tried desperately to come up with a solution.
One after another, they turned me away, the questions unanswered.
I visited specialists, and when that didn't work I turned to healers, superstitions--
anything that had even a remote chance of a cure.
With each poke and prod and failed remedy I drew deeper and deeper within myself,
until even I couldn't recognize my reflection.
I did not blame my husband for divorcing me;
I had failed to do the one task required of a wife.
He had been better than most; he had stuck around for 5 years of it, had
grieved with me, had footed the bill. But he had needs, too, and
eventually his interest and sympathy waned.
That was seven years ago.
I had seen him, once, holding his son's hand as they made their way to the synagogue.
I liked to imagine that the little boy was mine:
what stories I would have told him,
what silly jokes we would have shared,
and what his sleepy weight would feel like in my arms.
I would play this little imaginary game to pass the time
as I waited for strangers to have mercy on me and drop coins in my lap.
One day, sitting in my usual spot, I was suddenly pulled out of my reverie by loud shouting.
Grumbling to myself, I glared in the direction of the commotion.
A large crowd of people had rounded the corner, moving from the lake into town.
As they drew nearer, I spotted the source of the shouting.
His clothing revealed that he was a man of importance, a leader of the
But his fine garments were disheveled, his face was sweaty, and he
breathed heavily, as if he had been running.
"My little one is dying! Come put your hands on her and heal her.
Please! My little girl..."
Over and over he sobbed, gasping, choking on the pain.
I recognized the desperation in his eyes;
I had donned that look myself many a day.
Slowly I shifted my gaze, curious as to whom a respected leader like this would turn to in a moment of crisis.
His back was toward me.
I watched him wordlessly put his hand on the leader's shoulder.
The leader's entire countenance changed, a
look of peace where only a moment before
He picked himself up off of the ground.
What kind of man could have such an effect on a person, let alone a person of authority?
I half-stood, straining to get a better look.
Suddenly he turned and his gaze rested briefly on me.
I observed the dark shadows underneath his eyes,
the worry lines that had formed above his nose, a testament to the
compassion and concern he felt for the multitude surrounding him.
They were like children begging a doting father for sweets, and he
listened to them each tenderly, loving them all, but so unbelievable sad
to witness their
There was something about this man that I could not put a finger on,
and I sensed something awakening within me, something I hadn't felt in awhile, something like...hope?!
If he could calm the leader of the synagogue with just one touch,
then surely he could make me, a lonely, broken woman, feel the
same kind of peace.
The crowd passed by and I found my legs moving me in the same direction,
my body knowing my plan before it had even entered my thoughts.
"I'll just reach for his robe, that's all it'll take. The crowd will hide
I stre----tched and grabbed hold of his clothes.
In that instant I felt a rush of inexplicable joy,
and I wanted to laugh, to dance, to sing, to weep;
I knew that the illness had vanished.
He stopped abruptly. "Someone touched me," he said. "Who was it?"
My heart began pounding, but some men nearby interceded, calling
the question unreasonable because of the throng pressing in on him.
"I know that someone touched me," he insisted.
I stepped forward and fell at his feet, the men's faces mirroring my
own shock at this boldness. My body began trembling violently as
I confessed what I had done.
He helped me up and spoke warmly, "Daughter, your faith has made
you well; go in peace, and be healed of your dis-ease."
And with that, he left.
Now, many years have passed and I am crammed around a table in
a friend's house for a secret meeting. The head of the household
invites us to share in a meal just as the Teacher had; "Drink this to
remember the one who shed his blood for us."
I can no longer associate blood merely with pain, for it carries
also memories of life restored, of an uninhibited love.
The cup has made its way to me.
I reach for it and drink deeply.