on samaritans and being the light.

what if,

we became

the light

in the dark

for

the ones who are lost,

.

.

who can’t find their way home,

no

matter

how hard

they try,

or pray,

or believe.

.

.

because sometimes,

faith

can

blister

and

crack,

and we all need to be covered

with

the coolness of

mercy,

when the fire

burns

too

hot,

.

. sometimes.

.

.

what if,

we became

the hansels

and

the gretels

with our hands

full

of

crumbs.

.

. and, crumbs are enough,

to lead

the way

out,

.

.

of where we

too, once

had

to

cast

our

eyes down,

to hide from the things

that snarl and that bite.

.

.

let’s feed

the hungry.

we don’t need that much.

.

.

really.

it’s been done

before

with

the smallest of numbers.

.

. even threes and fives

are seeds

for

hundreds.

.

.

let’s be the salt

and

the hands that

hold

up

exhausted arms that just can’t anymore.

.

.

let’s

look

for tired feet

and dirty feet,

and yes,

they need it most,

to

wash, and

.

.

let’s search

for smouldering hearts,

that are ready to give up,

and

let’s

gently

blow

life

back

into

the cracks.

a holy resuscitation.

.

.

let’s be the ones

who

unbruise,

and

unhurt.

.

.

who

pick up

and

carry

and

bandage

and

stand,

when it matters,

.

.

and

doesn’t it always?

.

. matter?

.

.

that

somebody

chooses

to stand

with

the outcast

and

the outnumbered,

.

.

in spite of

the holy

guidelines, and

.

.

they

have

been

wrong.

.

.

in spite of love.

.

.

so, here’s what we do,

.

.

let’s

be

the renegades

and

the shepherds

and

the cupped hands

holding

water, and

.

.

perhaps then

we might

see

that there is no

piece of paper,

degree

.

.

or decree,

that could ever

carry the weight

of

this wild samaritan

love.

.

.

—on samaritans and being the light.

.

.

© Liezel Graham 2018.

.

.

Photograph by Egor Kamelev.

Blood.

For twelve years you bled.

Every day.

Twelve, long years you watched helplessly, as your lifeblood flowed away.

Unquenched.

Nothing could stop it.

No doctor, no healer, no remedy.

Nothing worked.

Nothing.

You must have been tired.

All the time.

The Bible speaks not of this, but it’s true… you would have been chronically tired.

Exhausted.

Anaemic.

I am sure that fear became your constant companion?

It must have.

I often wonder whether you were betrothed to someone?

Chosen, by someone, before…?

The Bible says nothing of this either.

Your personal life.

How old you were.

Whether you had ever known the joy of feeling a baby move within your belly.

Whether you knew the security of a husband’s love?

At least…. before.

But these are not mentioned.

Just that you bled.

For so long.

For too long.

The rest I read between the lines.

That you were desperate.

That you were scared.

Ostracised.

Alone.

Lonely.

Did you call out to Him?

Beg Him? For mercy? For healing?

For death?

Merciful, death.

Did you wonder where He was?

Whether He really cared?

I did.

My faith is like a wave on the ocean.

One moment it swells… full of hope… and then.

Crash.

Fractured.

Splashing into a million directions.

Paused for the next pregnant moment.

But you?

Did they whisper about you?

Did you try and go about your daily duties… the market… the washing… did you walk about with your head hanging low?

Knowing you couldn’t look.

It would hurt too much to see their faces.

The pity.

The disgust.

Knowing their piety is your shame.

Did they gossip amongst themselves?

Oh, righteously of course!

…about your sin?

Yes.

What evil you had done that made Him punish you as He did?

Did you carry shame like a mantel on your bowed shoulders?

Was your pain and loneliness etched like a map across features old-before-their-time?

The other women would have avoided you.

Everyone would have.

Everybody looking away as you slunk past.

Unclean.

Afraid to even look at you in case you made them unclean, too.

The shame, with you every day and nobody to help.

Nobody to free.

Unshackle.

You.

Unclean.

Did you feel that way?

Dirty.

Forgotten.

Invisible.

Unworthy.

She, who has no worth.

As if for a brief second, God turned His face from you.

Never to look upon you again.

I know that feeling, too.

Unclean.

Unchosen.

Did your heart, ache, dear one?

Did you feel a desperation so intense, that it almost tore the fabric of your being?

And then, that day that you heard of Him.

The One they called ‘The Healer.’?

Did you know immediately?

Did your spirit surge with hope, or was it just a flutter?

At first a quiet stirring?

Hope, singing in the dark.

Did you wonder whether the stories that made their way back to your village were rumours, or Truth, come at last?

No.

I think you knew.

I think your heart must have beaten wildly.

I imagine you bent low over the well. Drawing water.

Heaving buckets with a body tired from blood ebbing away.

Stopping every now and then, to draw breath.

And then.

You hear some talk. You strain to hear.

What are the other women saying? Can it be, you think?

That He is here?

HERE.

The One who heals?

The One who speaks Freedom?

Can it finally be?

For a second everything inside you goes still.

Quiet.

Tired heart fighting like a caged sparrow.

And then!

You run. Wildly groping, dropping your bucket of water on the way, the drops spilling on the dry, dusty ground.

Like an offering.

Like blood.

Your blood.

His blood.

But you don’t notice because desperation spurs you on.

Breathless you try to locate the sound.

His voice.

Your breath comes ragged.

You are close.

So close, but then.

You stop.

Fall to the ground.

Despair mocking you now.

Who do you think you are?

The crowds.

People.

Thronging.

Blocking.

Judging.

A wall.

Keeping you out.

Forcing the likes of you, away.

I see your tears.

Hot with disappointment.

I see your chest heave with a desperate exhaustion.

Anger, crushing your spirit.

I know.

It crushed mine, too.

How would you ever get close?

The ones who (think they) hold the tickets to His Presence.

They’re still around today.

You wouldn’t know, but yes, they’re still here.

Controlling access.

Ticket-masters.

How would you ever get past the ones who follow him?

Disciples, they call them?

They hedge Him in.

Protectively… against the pushing, over-excited crowds.

They stand like soldiers… guarding… they won’t let you close.

You.

Unclean.

Did you feel frantic? So close to the One whom your spirit knew…

Even if you did not.

Yet.

But then, I see you drop to the ground… crawling… trying to protect your head from the blows.

Trampling feet of the crowd.

Trying to see where His feet are.

Dust stinging your eyes… streaking your face with filthy tears.

You know.

Yes, you do! If you can only touch His hem.

Touch, only.

You push forward.

Hands in soil and eyes on hem.

Eyes on Him.

You keep pushing. The desperation in your face – etched.

Your hands reaching… almost there…. almost there.

A man’s foot crushes your hand.

The pain threatens to crush.

Almost too much to bear, but you inch forward.

Tears flowing freely now, but still, you crawl.

Still, you crawl.

Because you know.

Something has ignited within you.

You are a prisoner seeking Freedom.

You KNOW…. That this man, Jesus, that He is the One.

Freedom.

How were you to know then, how could you see then, that His blood would be spilt?

On parched earth.

Just like yours.

On parched hearts.

Just like mine.

That His blood would redeem you.

Would redeem me.

Clean made Unclean, to redeem the unclean.

To make new.

To restore.

The moment your hand brushed that dusty hem. That dirty, soiled hem.

You felt it.

Power surging through your body!

Something changes!

Everything changes.

But, the people… someone must have noticed you by then?

Must have seen you crawl in the dust.

Where you belong.

Did they draw back in fear?

Disgust?

But then, dear one, did it still matter?

Did you still care?

How could you explain? How could they ever understand?

But then.

His voice.

Someone touched me.

His disciples looking at Him in confusion.

Heads shaking, frowns seeking.

Guilt.

Your world stops.

Silence settles on the crowd.

How could He know?

How could He possibly have known?

That in all the hundreds pushing against Him… shouting His Name… how did He know that you.

You.

Unclean one.

That you had dared to touch Him.

Clean.

Were you afraid, when trembling, you stood up to face Him?

Did fear have a choke-hold on your throat as you stumbled over words?

Tripping over a multitude of explanations that would see you not cast out?

Like a leper.

Condemned.

And when He moved through the few still brave enough to stand around the filth of you.

When He, the Holy One, took your work-scarred hands and looked at you, and smiled.

What did your heart feel?

Was He the first to touch your hand in twelve long years?

Did your skin register the touch of Another?

And when He looked into your eyes and smiled.

At you.

Not, with pity.

Not, with disgust.

With love.

When He told you that your faith… your faith, had healed you?

When He said it again… louder this time, so that everyone could hear… could HEAR that you were free!

Clean.

Healed.

Redeemed.

Ransomed.

Did you weep?

I know you did.

I did, too.

How could you not…

Freedom had come for you.

Grace had found you.

Redemption had whispered your name.

You knew, didn’t you?

Because I did, too.

– Blood

Luke 8 v 43 – 47

© 2017. Liezel Graham. All rights reserved.

Jabez.

She named you Jabez.
When wave after wave of the searing heat that had ripped through her belly and skin, had finally cooled and she, exhausted, could finally hold you in her arms, she looked at you and said,
I gave birth to him in pain.
Call him, Jabez.
He makes sorrowful. 
He causes pain.’
I often wonder, ‘
Why?
A mother forgets the pain of birth.
Usually.
But you, born in misery, a maker of sorrow,
 you carried that with you.
Through the years.
Every time your name was called.
A reminder.
Pain.
Sorrow.
Did you ever wonder, why?
Did you silently long for the every-day names of your playmates?
Yes.
I see you.
I see your heart determine not to fail.
I see a young man steadfastly refuse to give in to that which crushed his mother’s heart.
That, which also longed to crush his.
I see you fight not to settle for the destiny that you were named for.
Knowing there’s more.
Knowing that words have power, great power, but never as much power as the One who could breathe hope into a tired spirit.
The One Who longs to speak life into the dry bones of the heart.
Jabez.
Honourable man.
Thousands of years after your name was written on a scroll.
I see you.
I hear what the bible does not say.
Man of great honour.
Defiant one.
You taught me that I too could shrug off a hand-me-down cloak too ill-fitting for my shoulders.
You showed me the way to say, ‘
No.’
No.
I shall not settle for sorrow, though I might be named for it.
And there are many ways to name a child.
I shall not be satisfied with misery, though it might have been a companion for the generations before.
I shall not, forever, carry the bitter disappointments of another.
It is not my load to carry.
It will never be enough, and it will always be too heavy.
And this life has more.
Always, more.
Because He is enough, I can go with outstretched hands and ask for more.
Jabez.
The broken dreams of our mothers were never meant to guide us home.
And there is hope.
There is so much more.
Stand up.
Lift up your head.
Shake off that cloak.
It was never yours, to begin with.

‘Jabez was more honourable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying, “I gave birth to him in pain.” Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request.’

1 Chronicles 4:9-10

© 2017. Liezel Graham. All rights reserved.