The rain was pouring down and all I can see are bodies huddled together. I stayed against the wall watching as to avoid getting wet. But my senses keep telling me to watch, something was going on. You could feel the emotion in the air. You could sense the desire for inflicting punishment and wait a minute…there was something else. I close my eyes and could catch the foul odor in the air. Ah, yes….the need for revenge.
I wanted a closer look but I dare not move yet. The feeling of anger and hatred was everywhere. It was a mob mentality and what was I to do? My head kept saying stay away but my heart said go over and see what is happening. I hate these moments of listening between head and heart. I know the heart is always right so I slowly creep over to the scene.
As I got closer I could hear the voices talking to each other. Discussing what they should do. What punishment would be sufficient. I looked at the faces and could see there was no reasoning with any of them. Seems they hunted down and caught someone bad. A person who wronged them. Now just morbid curiosity inched me over to see who this person was. I pushed through the group and could see they had circled a person…..someone on their knees staring down at the ground. It was a woman. She kept her hands over her face and I could tell she was sobbing uncontrollably. I knew she had done something wrong but my heart said she was punishing herself more than the people who surrounded her.
I could tell they were arguing amongst themselves. What to do and where to take her. Some wanted to turn her over and let justice be served. Others kept yelling at her with words that would rip through any person no matter how strong they were. Hatred…..worse than a knife. A few licked their lips because they could almost taste bitter revenge and wanted to sink their teeth into it. I just stood there helplessly not sure if I should pick up a stone and cast it at her or try to shield her. I myself have done wrong in this world so I knew I could not pass judgement. I was not without my own sin and hurting people. I took my punishments and moved on. I wondered if the people who watched her as she collapsed into the mud crying even harder were without their own sin. None of them have never hurt another? None have lied or not cleaned out their own closet? I bet you look hard enough everyone has something they try to hide.
There are many ways to do wrong in this world and each carries a punishment. You may not actually be locked away in a prison or hung….but the person is forever scarred and has to live with what they did. So why seek more revenge?
I moved closer to her and she was covered in mud. It was all over her clothes, her hair and she hide her face in her arms as she laid on the ground. Her shoulders shook as the tears kept coming. I then could hear her voice. Over and over she whispered, “I am so sorry”. It was almost like a mantra. I am not sure if she was begging them for forgiveness or just waiting for her punishment. You could tell she had already surrendered and would take whatever they decided.
That is when I heard another woman’s voice over the screams of the angry crowd. Not many noticed her right away but I watched her move quickly over to the fallen soul who now didn’t move. The woman who just appeared bent over and whispered in her ear. I couldn’t make out what it was but the other picked up her face from the mud and wept more. I could feel a forgiveness from one to another but no one else seemed to notice. Not until the mystery woman stood back up and told the others she had taken care of it all. They should go now. After she said that she walked away without looking back.
The others looked at one another not sure what to do. They wanted revenge but it seemed it wasn’t going to happen like this. Some were okay and decided she had been punished enough. Slowly, each person walked away. Some quietly and others didn’t leave without at first shouting a vulgar comment at her or even spat on her body as she laid there. Finally I was the only one left.
Looking around I wish I had something to lay over her to shield her from the downpour. I whispered in her ear, “I am sorry ma’am, I have nothing to cover you with. Please, get up and take shelter”.
She looked around unsure if that was a kind voice or one from the crowd that once surrounded her. Then she saw me and shook her head. “No. I will stay here. I do not deserve shelter. Please just go away. I do not want your kindness.”
In my head I thought, “fine be that way” and I turned to go. I walked away about 5 feet and then I heard her voice again. She wasn’t speaking to me but she seemed to be praying. More like confessing. I didn’t look at her but stopped and took in all she spoke out loud. I could hear the sorrow, pain and self hatred she had within herself for what she had done. I can see why the others were so angry but could they not see how badly she felt. Nothing they could say or do to her would make her feel any worse than she already did.
Then she said a name. I turned my head toward her and she had pulled up to her knees and was in a prayer position. I couldn’t walk away…not now. I sat next to her as she screamed his name and kept saying how sorry she was. I could feel her pain in my own heart and began to weep. She noticed me crying and told me to stop. She knew I felt for her and that made it harder. I didn’t know what to do.
Then I saw her look forward and I followed her gaze. There was a figure in the distance under an umbrella. She froze and it appeared he did as well. She spoke words softly, “I am sorry. I loved you truly. Nothing can change what I have done”. I looked back at him and he just turned away. She started to cry out the name one more time and stopped. She realized he already surrounded himself with others. How quickly one is replaced. He already pushed her out of his mind. Maybe he just needed one last look. She clutched a necklace she wore then looked down at me.
She then said, “Please just let me be. I do not deserve any kindness. You have no idea how many I hurt but above all I hurt someone I loved more than any other. Love that was true but was deceitful. Do not cry for me because I am not worth your tears”.
Then she curled up once more on the ground, in the rain. Now the wind had picked up and a real storm was moving in.
I hung my head and walked back over to the building I was hiding in earlier. I wanted to comfort her but knew it was useless. I sat against the wall and tried to warm myself up and dry off. I was sleepy. My eyes grew heavy and I just wanted to shut them. I couldn’t fight it any longer and drifted off…..I could hear her crying as I fell asleep. I couldn’t do any more………
I opened my eyes when the feeling of silence shook me out of my dream. I looked all around for her. That is when I noticed someone standing over her. I sat up because he looked familiar to me. He was one of the men from last night calling out for justice to be served. What was he doing? I watched him kneel down next to her. It looked as if he was covering her with a blanket. I rubbed my eyes and then squinted to see if I was seeing this all clearly. Was this a trick or did he really come back to help her.
I scurried over quickly to get a better look and also where I could hear what was being said between the two of them.
“You found me. Go ahead….yell at me. I deserve it”, she whispered.
He just shook his head and replied, “No. I think you have punished yourself enough.”
He then picked her up and brought her to a dry area under a tree for shelter. She grabbed his hand and smiled. I could tell she was trying to tell him “thank you”. He patted her hand. He understood.
The act of kindness brought a smile to my face. But really humans do not think a field mouse really can smile but I have seen enough to know the feeling in my heart. Forgiveness….. I went back to my little spot in the barn and prepared to head off now that the rain has passed. Before I left, I looked over to the tree and she was still sitting there. I could tell she still cried but it wasn’t as bad as before. It is amazing how a kind act from someone you have wronged can help the other begin to heal.
As I watched her, I felt tears come down my face again. One had forgiven her but now she must forgive herself.
“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” – Louis B. Smedes