Have living and longing ever been aching neighbors in your soul? Life in a full-contact world with its disloyalties and treasons, its touching-caressing--intimate chasms--ahh, the people I meet often express in words--or without them--a deep and desperate longing to be known. To be touched in some invisible place where touch is life. And surely there is no physical way to reach so far as to touch a soul, unless it be with spirit?
Do you think the woman caught in adultery and brought to Jesus early in the morning--evidently after a night in adulterous passion--do you think she had any aching longings? Do you think the tryst had been planned for a week or so, that she had wept at the kitchen sink thinking of the damage her longing might cause? Was she aching when she rendezvoused for the illegitimate night, or when she was caught and dragged into public--her aches being shouted as accusations into the public gathering? (And what about the guy that evidently was escaping the mob? Where is he?)
I'm thinking of Eleanor Rigby again, but look at each face in the mob, look at the woman facing certain death by stoning. Look at the people watching, and those being handed stones and then look at the face of Jesus. In the midst of all the aching longing in that public courtyard, Jesus alone was ready to touch everyone present in a deep place where no one can reach with a hand, or scalpel. Maybe he was humming Eleanor Rigby?
He disbands the crowd with words that affirm their aching and their futile attempt at release. And then he looks to the woman...fresh from her treason. And instead of seeing the despicable disloyalty, he thinks of her aching longings. That her hopelessness last night had taken her at high risks to a secret place. She had ignored fears of being caught, or of sinning--in hopes of being known. She had thrown caution to the wind and run to the shelter of another soul, hoping to be touched deeply and lovingly. And perhaps she had felt that touch in the night, in his arms. But how quickly hope faded into disaster...until she was touched by Jesus.
Could her aching have been a desire to feel OK? A need to feel that all of her human failures were forgiven? Could she have wanted to know that someone somewhere looked at her and saw beauty, something worth the risk of possessing. Ah, look at all the lonely people.
When the crowd had left, Jesus asked, "Woman, where are your accusers? Has no one condemned you?"
She answered, "No one, Lord."
Then Jesus spoke the words that reached deep inside of her, to her soul. And they weren't just words, they were healing vibrations--human/spiritual/psychological touch. (OK, divine as well, but I'm really into kenosis for all of you theologians--Phil 2:5-11, or C. Wesley--"He emptied himself of all but love..." But I digress.) He said, I don't condemn you either. Go and stop sinning." (This story is in the Christian New Testament, book of John chapter 8 and verses 2-11--you can find the verses by those tiny numbers before each sentence or so.)
I guess that is why my faith rests in Jesus. Not in a Jesus who says, "Go and stop sinning and then I won't condemn you and I'll think you're OK." But the one who says, "I don't condemn you, I love you. I see your beauty and dignity. Stop seeking life where it isn't."
I'm aching so deeply for a few people right now. And I'm praying for the way to speak peace to their aching longing and living.
Grace and peace to you. You are loved, just as you are, more than you can imagine.