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Guilty No More

by Bob Peterson

"Guilty, she's guilty!" The words flew at me,
Like arrows seeking my life.
I'd been caught in a place I had no right to be.
Betraying my vows as a wife.

But the anger and bile pouring out from the crowd,
Paled to that churning inside.
My shame wrapped about me, a desolate shroud,
As hope shriveled and died.

Guilt surging up from my mortified soul,
For embracing the lure of sin.
Though I tried to hide from my own sinful role,
Still guilt found me time and again.

Now in the crowd's hands, being led to the slaughter,
My judgement surely was near.
Disowned by family, a disgrace of a daughter,
My pleas had no one to hear.

We came to a stop in an open courtyard,
And hands shoved me out to the front.
Thrown to the ground, unyielding, and hard,
Like an animal trapped by the hunt.

I fell at the feet of a teacher of men,
A rabbi named Jesus; I'd heard.
He stood above me looking down on my sin,
As I lay there not speaking a word.

He stooped to my level, there on the ground,
And started to write in the dirt.
He wrote out my name without speaking a sound,
And my fear came to full to alert.

The name of Miriam laid bared to the sun.
My soul felt comply exposed.
This man surely knew me and all that I'd done,
My inner most shame here disclosed.

Below my name, in the glaring sunshine,
"Adultery" he wrote on the ground.
But I blinked in surprise as his eyes locked on mine,
For in them compassion I found.

He gave a soft smile as he stretched out his hand,
His eyes never leaving my face.
He wiped out that sin written there in the sand,
Without leaving even one trace.

It felt in that moment as if there had been
Blessed water poured down over me.
In removing the word he'd washed clean the sin,
And a part of my soul lifted free.

Then there in the dirt he wrote for display
Another transgression of mine.
Without any pause he whipped it away,
Again, leaving nary a sign.

Over and over, he did as before;
Exposing then removing the sin.
Like redeeming waves washing over the shore,
Bringing healing and cleansing within.

We sat there, we two, in the midst of a crowd,
Speaking without saying words.
Voices flew round us, angry and loud,
Like a flock of furious birds.

Jesus stood up and looked all about,
Until silence was finally shown.
"Let him without sin," Jesus called out,
"Be the one to cast the first stone."

Then he came back to me, and our work in the sand,
And continued to write on the ground.
When finally finished, he helped me to stand,
As we turned and looked all around.

"Woman, where are they?" Jesus asked me.
"Do you find any condemning you?"
"No, my Lord, there's no one I see."
He said, "Neither do I chose to.

"Go now in peace and sin no more,"
His words touching deep within.
Giving hope that my life needn't be as before.
I could finally be free of my sin.

Grace, He gave me I did not deserve,
A grace, powerful, and free.
Sweat grace from this god I imperfectly serve,
This god that forever loves me.

This poem was a finalist in the April 2023 poetry contest

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Books by Bob Peterson

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