Yesterday, I did my Bible reading and prayer at the small table in the dining room of my house at 369 N Montclair Ave. There had been a wave of ice and sleet the day before, and outside, the ground looked snowy, and the white light off of it was soft and seemed to glow coming in the bay window. My Bible was laid out in front of me, but still turned to Psalm 34, which I had read and sung a few minutes before. I was using my phone to read the Gospel passage and follow the morning prayer office. I do not keep this practice daily, but I wish I did.
I finished the daily office reading from John 7 and noticed that the next passage was the Woman Caught in Adultery. I probably would have just closed the Bible app, but I remembered that the lectionary might cut that passage out, so I decided to read it.
When I got to the final verse–that moment where Jesus said to the woman, “Has no one condemned you? Neither do I condemn you,” I began weeping and shaking with the force of my sobs. I remember that I did not even want to cry then. Thoughts like, “you’re just trying to have an emotional experience” would flash through my mind, and I would try to quell the tears, but then I would hear Jesus say again, “Neither do I condemn you,” and I would start crying even harder and now louder than before. This happened two or three times.
In the midst of the sobs, I felt a desire to pray, so I began crying out, “Thank you, Lord,” responding to his absolution, and realizing that nothing else seemed so pressing as this prayer of thanksgiving, I continued to pray, “Thank you, Lord. Thank you, Jesus” for several minutes.
I don’t know exactly why I needed this word that God was not condemning me. I can, of course, think of a hundred things I have done in the past week alone by which I have not loved my God nor loved my neighbor. Perhaps the weight of these (and the weight of all the weeks of these) is reason enough to explain the deep hunger that I did not even know I carried until He had already fed me. Perhaps the weight I carried was something more Original. Something as deep as the Adam that fleshes out my soul. Perhaps these two are really the same, for with both weights, I know that I will need him, again, to turn back my Accusers, to kneel in the dirt beside me, to turn and say, “Neither do I condemn you.”