Daring to be Different


Lent, with its focus on repentance can also feed an inappropriate sense of unworthiness if we are prone to such feelings. Life’s experiences and the cruelness of people who have hurled stones of whatever form at us (often as a means of covering their own frailties and insecurities) leave us battered, bruised and lacking in the confidence to take the first steps into a new way of being. The story of the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11) reminds us that God requires only one thing from us: to leave a life of sin. Whether that’s not going along with the crowd or not allowing the past to dictate our future, our vocations are most fully expressed in finding the courage to dare to be different in ways which are unique to each one of us.

Reflection (John 8:1-11)

She stands before us
this woman, and I use the term loosely.

She stands before us
her garments in disarray,
clothed in the shame we have laid upon her.

She stands before us
silent, and alone,
as our voices cry out for punishment
and our hands reach down for the stones that lay at our feet.

I see neither the face nor know the name,
only the feel of the dust on my fingers,
the jagged edges of the rock in my hand
and the burning desire that she should pay.
That she should pay for daring to step out of line.

Of course, her lover should have known better;
a prostitute’s fee, a loaf of bread[1]
but another man’s wife?
He’ll pay a price,
but not here, not now, not publicly.

She stands before us silent
her honeyed lips and her smooth tongue still.[2]
She’ll lead no more to the grave.[3]

And he stands before us
silent as he bends to the ground
deaf to the clamour around him.
And then he stands
upright and speaks….

And we stand silent
our lips and tongues still,
our hands dirty,
clothed in the shame we have laid upon ourselves.

Only our feet move.
And his words ring in our ears
‘go, leave your life of sin’.

[1] Proverbs 6:26

[2] Proverbs 5:3

[3] Proverbs 5:5

© Jeanette Hartwell


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