I never chose my husband. I never chose for him to become frail and sick. I had to do everything for him, bathe him, get him in and out of bed, make dinner for him, do whatever he needed. Until one day buying cloth, I saw a man in town with a strong, handsome face, a Pharisee respected by everyone. We exchanged looks, then more. For weeks no one knew what was happening, not even his wife, a quiet, simple woman whose existence made me feel so guilty. But soon my husband became suspicious and began to treat me with contempt. He told everyone who would listen that he knew I had a lover.
One day there was a knock at the door. I opened it and my heart stopped; all the Pharisees of the town stood before me. They grabbed me roughly and accused me loudly of adultery so all the neighbors could hear. He was there too, accusing, as though he had had nothing to do with this sin between us.
They tied my hands and hauled me away. I was terrified. Thinking of the stones they were shouting about, and whether it would hurt. I cried out in terror but someone hit me in the face.
They pushed their way through a crowd that was listening to a religious lesson by a rabbi named Jesus of Nazareth. As soon as they broke through, Jesus stopped teaching.
They threw me on the hard, dusty ground at Jesus' feet and accused me of adultery. I didn’t understand what was happening, why we were stopping here in this crowd. But nothing made sense to me in that moment, bruised and bleeding, coated with sweat and dirt, watching the man who had loved me join in with the rest, accusing me of sin.
People started shouting accusations and ultimatums at Jesus, (imitates with raised fist) "This woman was caught in adultery!" "What should we do with her?!" "The law says she should be stoned to death." "Are you going to uphold the law or not!" "Answer us!"
I could tell that Jesus was upset with them. But instead of yelling back, Jesus just stooped down and started writing with his finger in the dirt.
At that moment I truly felt the weight of the truth, the weight of my sin, and all the fear I had felt before this moment was engulfed by the terror in me now. If this man Jesus were really a prophet like everybody was saying, I knew in that moment that he would know the truth, and I felt my heart confirm my guilt as he quietly said, "Go ahead and execute her."
The crowd, which was silent, grew even more hushed, even more expectant. Then, Jesus said, "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone."
Then Jesus stooped down again and started writing with his finger in the dirt. For some reason, no one speaks of what Jesus wrote on the ground. Few people saw it anyway. I couldn’t read, so I didn’t bother to look. But in that moment, I felt deep in my heart that I should look up. Look at the one face I never wanted to see again. And as I saw him read what Jesus was writing, I saw a look of terrible fear…then shame. Then he turned without saying a word. One by one, the rest of the men followed him. Within a couple of minutes, they were all gone.
Jesus stood up and looked around and said. "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?"
I said, "No one, sir".
Then, he looked me right in the eye, right down to my soul. I knew he could see all the way through me, to all that had happened, my long days working and my dark, secret nights. Jesus knew all of this and more. And I knew at that moment that he, and only he, was the one without sin. The one who could cast a stone. Yet, he said, "Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more."
I had heard that Jesus was a healer. I was not blind, or lame, or a leper. But in that moment Jesus healed something in me. No longer was I righteously angry for what I had suffered. Instead an impulse formed inside me which I cannot describe, a desire to make everything as peaceful and right as I felt in that moment, looking at Jesus.
Each day I kept caring for my husband just the same, and he kept treating me with contempt just the same, telling me he wished they had stoned me that day. I bathed him, made him dinner, helped him in and out of bed, attended to him. And gradually, something shifted. The contempt was gone, and there was only kindness, and care, and rest. One day, right before his death, I looked him straight in the eyes. I said, I am sorry for the hurt and shame I caused you. You deserve a better wife.
He looked at me and only nodded. That was his way of telling me. Somewhere in the pain and sickness and contempt, a peace had broken in. We were all forgiven.