Hey there! I’m writing this blog post from a 150 year old stone house in the rolling countryside of Pescara, Italy, where me and my family are just about to finish off our holiday. It’s been a grand few weeks travelling Europe – but alas, all good things must come to an end. I have 6 weeks left of my Senior year once I get home, and it’s going to be pretty much jumping straight into the deep end of crazy-busy-life upon our return. But let’s not think about that right now. The sun is shining, the pool is calling, and I have poetry to share! 😀
So the poem I’m sharing today is both a NaPoWriMo poem and a Biblical poem. Fun fact: I wrote it at about 12 a.m. in an apartment in Prague with siblings sleeping all around me. It’s funny how certain writing locations become burned in your memory. 😀 Anyways, it’s based on the woman whose story is found in John 8. Her story is such a beautifully broken one, and it really impacted me as I wrote this poem… I hope it impacts you too. So without further ado, here it is – Mercy Triumphs.
Nightmares of stones and screams chase me as I am dragged
Like a common criminal through the early morning streets.
I should’ve known better – in fact I did know better…
Hadn’t I been taught ever since I could remember
The role of a woman under the law?
Chaste and quiet and pure and holy before a God I feared,
A God that I could not know unless – unless what?
I don’t know how to know this God…
All I know is how to act and dress and be –
And this, I have defiled…
Defiled in a single maddened moment of desire for something more
Than these winding streets and empty days.
I should’ve known that my desire would be my downfall
But I was too far gone before I knew it and he – he was
Something more than I had ever known.
But the morning dawned and with it a shame I had never known before
And now I am being dragged through these winding streets
My heart pounding with fear –
I know what they do to women like me.
Somehow I am pulled into the temple courts,
The very dwelling place of this God that demands that I
Keep the law – His law that I have blatantly broken.
People stream around me and surround me until I feel
That I will suffocate under the weight of their stares that strip me
Down to my aching, empty soul.
Their whispers turn into a murmur that swells into shout
Of accusation and anger.
I am dragged on a wave of shame by these people
Who do not know me, nor care for anything
But their law that demands so much.
What do they see?
A common whore – a woman with no moral standing,
A failure in the eyes of the law, and thus the God
Under whose judgment I stand.
And then the roar of accusation grows silent
As in one swift motion I am thrown before a man.
My body barely covered, I cower,
Surrounded by my accusers, huddled in front of –
The man who is to judge me in the eyes of God and His law?
I draw my shame like a blanket around me and sit silent
Waiting for the verdict to be pronounced,
Waiting for the stones.
Instead of the shouts of accusation that I expect
I hear a tersely spoken interchange between this crowd of my condemners
And the man that stands in front of them and me.
Slowly I begin to wonder, and then to realize that I
Am only a pawn, being used in a game of cat-and-mouse
Between these law-followers and this man.
“The law commands us to stone her,”
I can hear the disdain in their voices,
Feel the disgust in their glances as they gesture to me
“But what would you say?”
In the silence that follows I can feel the question like a knife in my back
Piercing me to the very quick –
So this man will be my judge.
But the volley of judgment that I expect never comes…
Instead he stoops and writes silently in the dust.
Looking up he catches my trembling glance
And in a second I am stripped of all shame –
Left a simply a woman, broken and wounded
In desperate need of grace.
In that moment I send up a silent prayer to the God
I long to know but do not know how to find.
Have mercy on me, a sinner….
The silence is broken by his voice
As he stands to face my accusers, his eyes flashing
“The one who has never sinned –
Let him be the first one to throw a stone at this woman.”
His words hang in the stunned silence,
I hardly dare to breathe.
Could this really be happening?
How can this man look at me – look at my blatant shame
And say that?
I hear the shuffling of feet
The nervous clearing of a throat.
And then –
Nothing but the swishing of robes and the
Ring of retreating footsteps in this judgement court.
I look at my judge and find instead
Standing before me, he stoops and lifts me from the ground –
A gesture of grace so simple it takes my breath away.
“Where are those that condemn you?”
He asks, looking at me again – past my shame and sin
Deep into my desperate heart.
“Do they not condemn you?”
A quick shake of my head and he pronounces my verdict
“Then neither do I condemn you.”
I stand in this temple court with God as my judge and find
That mercy triumphs over judgment.
This man is something more than I have ever known –
He has given me grace over law
And with it the glorious certainty that I can
Perhaps He is closer than I ever could’ve dreamed…
So what do you think? Have you been impacted by any Biblical characters’ stories recently? I’d love to chat in the comments with you!