Writing in the Dust
A scene of tension is set.*
A woman is publicly exposed. An aggressive mob gathers, challenge in their narrowed eyes and tensed shoulders. They approach the influential leader, the winner of many hearts — Jesus. And inside the crucible of this climax the narrative pauses to accommodate Jesus as he writes something in the dust with his finger. Hardly the opportune time for a doodle, seemingly. Yet I am drawn to the mystery in this pause. He speaks his answer. Then returns to his work in the dust. There is purpose to it, I am sure.
What is he writing?
My mind rambles from speculation to speculation. Is it the name of some woman, significant to some in the crowd? A mistress, or a mortified sister? Is it the label of some hidden guilt? A sketch of their malign toward one of their own? The name of any unfaithful man in the crowd? Perhaps the authority of Jesus spelled out in so many symbols? Or simply a resonant pause that gives way for their righteous indignation to vent, making room for honest self-reproach?
Perhaps he sketches the image of his people in the utopian garden, enjoying the perfect company of God. A reminder that we were intended for good. She is beloved by him, and she was intended for good.
Their calls for her destruction at his word made preposterous in juxtaposition.
Fingers that molded creation. Touching the stuff of our material bodies; dust. His presence meddling in the essence of our earthly existence, but gently and personally; and in this passage, privately. Yielding restoration for the beloved woman. The Word writing out some message intended for its viewers alone, lost to us in history.
Yet even this enigma is a gift of its own kind.
Jesus THE Word, a beloved aspect of Jesus. The meaning, the message, the reason, that which is [not nothing]. That extra-physical Word, indivisible from I AM, descended into material form. The infinite Jesus poured into human mold, fashioned with the stuff of humanity. The intangible made solid so that we might come to grips with it. When God spoke the world into existence, His good words foreshadowed the goodness of the Word into flesh that was to come. The Word that gives all spoken creation meaning and purpose.
Jesus the Word.
At times the decay of this world uncovers itself to me fatigued. An old parchment, wrinkled and bent in the corners to the point of rounding and tearing, creases ripping open and water-splashed patches thinning to the point of transparency, these signs that would betray a flimsiness to purpose. Tied up into Divinity, the thin areas are the places where purpose, the certainties of God’s promises to me, are peeking through the crackled fragile fibers of life, tethering me to You.
The Word provides the Way.
What an irreverent privilege to exist in the company of God.
*John 8:2-11 (2) At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. (3) The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group (4) and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. (5) In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” (6) They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. (7) When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” (8) Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
(9) At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. (10) Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
(11) “No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
Andi is a wife, a mother to three boys, devoted to listening to and learning about Jesus through reading and writing, and is passionate about molecular biology and appreciating God through observing the world. She is also an occasional water-color painter, violinist, and swimmer; a lover of rich conversation and healthy portions of solitude, in turn. Her family makes their home in beautiful Oregon.