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I couldn’t help it. When I first heard that He was coming this way, my heart started beating faster with the old hope. Perhaps this was the One who could help me. I immediately tried to quash it. I had tried so many times before. All any of them had ever done for me was to dash my hopes and lighten my purse. I had long ago stopped looking for the next physician or holy man who claimed he could cure me.

I’m not sure why I decided to go. As always, changing my routine required a major effort. Just thinking about it usually made me tired. But this seemed different. He couldn’t help me, I told myself, but they said that He was a great Rabbi. It would be interesting just to see Him. And maybe, maybe…no. I had heard that sometimes He would stop and speak to crowds. I would just hope to hear some of His wisdom. That would be enough. That would have to be enough.

He wasn’t hard to find. I just had to find someone to follow. It seemed like everyone in town was going to the same place. The crowd was headed toward the nicer end of town, and I was almost out of breath by the time I reached them. My uncleanness kept most far away from me, but I did overhear someone say that He was going with Jairus.

I realized that He was actually at the tail end of the crowd, with most of the people running ahead toward Jairus’s house. I knew that Jairus’s daughter was very ill. Much more ill than I was. He must be going to see her. To heal her, perhaps. No one wanted to miss the miracle.

A sudden surge of bitterness twisted my insides, at the point of my illness. The girl would die soon, or she would get better, but what of me? Who else knew what it was like to live as I did? Who else had to watch their lifeblood seep away, not in a sudden surge, but a trickle at a time, day by day? Who else had a womb that was worse than barren, one that would not stop bleeding no matter what the physicians did? Who else had to bear the dual burden of perpetual uncleanness and the contempt of everyone around me?

A sudden energy, driven by anger, carried me to the very heels of the Rabbi. Desperation made me foolish, and I reached out to Him. If He was the miracle Man that everyone said He was, perhaps just a touch of His cloak would be enough. I knew I wouldn’t be allowed into Jairus’s house with the others; it was my last chance.

As my fingers brushed the fringe at the bottom of His cloak, I felt something. I don’t know how to explain it except to say I knew that as of that moment I was well. The pain was gone. The rags I used to catch the blood were still damp, but I could no longer feel the slow seep of blood.

Then the Rabbi stopped and announced that someone had touched Him. I recoiled with horror at what I had done. Even then I was still unclean from the bleeding; I had not even changed my clothes yet, much less purified myself. I had defiled His cloak, and therefore Him, with my filthy touch. He would no longer be allowed into Jairus’s house, so I had taken away a young girl’s chance to be healed. I dropped to my knees in shame.

I vaguely heard the muttering of the crowd through the tears that blinded me and the sobs that I tried to hold in. I crawled to His feet and through my tears admitted to Him that it had been me who had touched Him. I found myself pouring out the years of pain, illness, and shame onto His feet. I told Him that I could feel that my body was now well.

Then the true miracle happened. He reached down and put a hand on my head. Slowly, I looked up into His eyes. They were filled with compassion and kindness. “Daughter, your faith in Me has made you well. Be well and go in peace.”

I remained in that spot, unable to move from this place where I had touched Him, and He me, even after the excited crowd had pulled Him away. Finally, after I was sure that I would remember every detail of His kind face and gentle hands, I turned and headed home to begin the purification rituals. Twelve years of blood, and in seven days, I would finally be ritually clean again. But my heart already felt clean.

© 2012 Marianne Gieseckee


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