The Healing of the bleeding womana characterization from Mark 5:25-34
Dust covered her feet, tired legs carried her through the heat of the day to the place where she had heard the crowd was gathering. She was hunched over, the shame of years of being unclean had worn her down and her eyes stayed glued to the ground so as not to meet anyone else’s on the road. Her anger at her body for betraying her had long since passed and become a resigned sadness that had broken her years before. She remembered well when the bleeding had started, when she had left her home for her monthly time to await being considered ‘clean’ again, and she remembered the feeling that overcame her when it hadn’t stopped, when it had persisted. The dirt road was becoming busier now, she could see the feet of others as they walked ahead and beside her and she moved to separate herself from the crowd, walking along the side of the road so she could avoid the touch, avoid the shame. She remembered what it felt like to touch, the feeling of her mothers hand as she brushed her hair, when her father would touch her shoulder in thanks for her help in the fields, the tugging of her skirts as they played. The touches since then had been the painful prodding and attempts to be healed by physicians and healers but nothing had stopped the hemorrhaging, nothing had made her well but rather with time her bleeding had become worse. For twelve long years her life had been a lonely abyss of shame and pain and she had feared that soon the hopelessness would break her. As she shuffled along the side of the road she felt the deep glowing in the pit of her stomach, that feeling that she she had long since forgotten was hope, just a few days ago she had heard of a man who had the power to heal with just a touch to his clothes he could make her well. She had started walking immediately to the seaside where she knew others were waiting for him, the start of her journey her steps had been light, anticipation fuelling her drive to get there as quickly as possible but now as the crowds became thicker and the time closer she began to fear. She looked down at her hands, they shook ever so gently so she clasped them together to stop the trembling. She dared to glance up and she saw the crowd had gathered on the shoreline, it was noisy and there were a lot of people. She stopped for a moment, unsure what to do, a little afraid to take another step forward. She wracked her mind for a way to get close enough to this man, the man they call Jesus, the man who is said be the son of God, the man who could cast out demons and was prophesied about in the Torah. If only I could touch his Tzitzit she thought to herself, and find that healing the healing in his wings just as Malachi had written about. Taking a deep breath she again looked up to see the crowd, still growing larger. She could see the boat approaching the shoreline and people were getting closer, trying to speak with Jesus, calling out as he grew closer. She watched and saw a small pathway opening between the crowds so she started to move. Healing was so close, she just had to touch the tassels of his clothes and it would be hers, she tucked her head low and moved towards the crowd, careful to avoid the touch of others, afraid she might be caught. As she drew closer to the crowd she saw Jesus step from the boat onto land, she was careful to stay hidden, and moved slightly closer. A man came through the crowd, yelling, begging for Jesus to come with him to help his ailing daughter. She closed her eyes, this was the distraction she needed. She edged closer still and waited as the crowd made way for Jesus to pass through. She stared at his feet, waiting, holding her breath until finally he was within reach, her heart hammered against her chest as he passed by her and then with as much bravery as she could muster she reached out and touched the wing of his cloak, a gentle touch so as not to be noticed. As her fingers met the braided cloth she felt warmth spread through her entire body, and in a moment she knew that she had been healed, she felt that the bleeding had stopped. Tears of joy filled her eyes as the awareness filled her entire body and nearly stole her breath with the awesomeness of it all. She was about to turn but just then Jesus stopped and turned. “Who touched my garments?” he commanded. She heard his follower speaking but didn’t make out the words as the blood rushed through her ears and heart. She had been noticed. Shaking but full of awe and wonder she fell to her knees before Jesus and, quietly at first and then more bodly she told the crowd who she was, and why she had come. She was expecting to be admonished or possibly worse but Jesus turned to her with gentle eyes and said to her “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your affliction”. She heard the words, saw the gentle eyes, felt the soothing words wash over her in a way that she hadn’t felt in the twelve long years of being unclean. Her heart swelled with love, her eyes opened and the tears fell freely as she gathered her skirts and rose. Jesus had turned and was already moving forward, heading towards the home of the man who had been calling out to him. She watched as the crowd followed but she stood, unable to move as the hopelessness of the past lifted away and she felt the dreams she’d once held onto as a child start to spring to life once more. She stepped onto to road, her shoulders straight, her heart whole, her body made new, unashamed as she walked through the crowd, unafraid of touching someone or being touched. She lifted her skirts so they wouldn’t tangle around her ankles allowing her to move more freely, and with quick steps she started her journey home, to the love and connection she had missed for too many years.