there is this story, about Jesus writing in the sand. there is this story about that woman accused of fornication. the story of the ppl knew what god likes, and what’s correct, right and proper.
this is a story about looking for skeletons in closets, sb else’s closets, too. while they carefully search elsewhere, they can forget the little white bones gleaming in the darkness of their own hidden rooms, quietly rotting away, behind a stout wall of self-righteousness and pointing the finger at others.
ppl are like that- they measure others by their sin, not forgiveness, by their mistakes, not development, by their pain, and not happiness. they keep count of offences against them, and forget their own misdeeds. they put on this lens, concentrating and magnifying, and recalling the past, and leaving no room for the present or forgetting.
maybe this is what they understand best, and can believe easiest.
it also a story about a god who writes. it is an old story, and true, and therefore hurting the more – a story repeated, of climbing a mountain to the presence of God, of the golden calf, and stone, and god’s finger etching the do’s and don’ts in stone: irretrievably, irreversibly. stone becomes the accuser and the punishment implement, indestructible, hard, all set and ready. if anyone disobeys the rules written in stone, they are stoned to death – that’s it, whoever you are – human or animal, it has been written (twice) in the foundation-stone of this world you live in.
and then, there is this person, this guy Jesus. sitting there in that square, on the ground, and writing something in the sand. with his finger, mark ye. God has descended to the city square, sits in the dust and draws things with his eternal finger in the common dust of the eternal city of peace and betrayal, love and indifference, curiosity and death, all things transitory.
they bring a woman to him; one they know has broken the rules-in-stone, and must die, by those rules. they have found the skeleton in her closet, and now are ready to proudly display it – as a question, as a mind-trap to the one they have heard to call God his father. what will the god say, the god that sits on the ground, among the simple, the god who is so unexpected?
he listens. and writes their words in that sand. he allows them to be tried by their own stones – and see their own death so close, so tangibly there. he brings light to their closets and allows a glimpse of the bones crushed under other bones, squashed under other bones.
because in fornication there are always two. because the one who accuses, thinks they are god and know better. because to accuse is to confess participation. how else would they know?
Jesus writes their words in the transient sand.
and then he looks at those remaining. and sees none. only the one brought to him for judgement. his palm posed over the sand. his eyes, on the face/heart/essence/being of the other, the one before him. she is there, her skeletons scattered in the sunlight, so visible, so there.
he wipes the sand clean. erasing their dark words and her dry guilt, and the promise of stones in one easy motion. she has not pretended, she has been with him as she is – whatever she is, she has no closet, no wall, no hole to hide in. her past becomes a future, seen, noticed, clean.
this is a story of transparency. and loneliness of the forgiver and forgiven. a loneliness of the approaching light.