hemmed in

She watched as he stepped from the boat. ‘Is that all?’ she thought, eyeing him.  ‘Is this the one who can command demons, and ruffle the rabbis, and stir the hearts of the crowds?’

He looked tired.  And as soon as he was ashore, the crowds pressed in around him:  calling to him, reaching for him, demanding his attention.  She sunk further into the shadows and watched.

The voice startled her, when it came.   ‘You could do it, you know.  If you chose.’ All day she had felt she was being watched, that there was someone.  But it was folly.  She was always alone.

‘Do what?’ she snarled.  ‘Just leave me alone.’

She felt, more than saw him draw closer.  Curious, and encouraging.   She felt the feather touch of his breath as he said,  ‘You could do it.  You could go to him.’   Then she watched him move into the crowd, clearing a path for her.

She was wary.  How could he know what she wanted?  And why would he care?  It has been a long time since anyone had seen her, spoken to her.  Twelve years.  Twelve bloody years.

But this felt different –whomever he was.  She followed him, and her heart echoed his words ‘you could do it. you could choose.’

The crowd was thick, and she’d lost sight of the stranger, but she could still sense his presence.  Yes.  She would do it.  What more could she possibly loose?  She ran, now, forcing her way through the crowd.  ‘Please, God, let me reach him.  Please God, let this stop.’

And there he was, in the clearing before her.  She saw Jesus talking with someone, and her heart sank.

‘Jarius.’  she hissed.  That great man.  The great leader. ‘The swine,’ she thought.  Too many times she’d seen him walk past as if she were invisible.  Too many times he pulled his cloak tight around him to be sure not to touch her, not to take the risk.  And there he was, talking with Jesus.  Pleading for his little girl.  Jesus hanging on his every word.

She tried to summon compassion for the man whose daughter was ill.  She mostly failed.  Oh, she wished them no harm, but she was jealous of him, too:  He whose needs are always met.

Then, she felt the feather touch of the stranger’s breath in her ear. ‘You could go to him.  I will help you.  Just reach for his cloak.’

His cloak… She watched as its hem swirled, filling the space the crowds cleared for him.  Yes.  She could do that.  Jarius could command his attention, but she could catch his hem.

She pushed on through the crowd and tried to believe she had as much right to be there as anyone.  She saw the anger and revulsion as people recognized her, feared her touch; and she decided not to care.

She got to the front of the crowd and saw Jesus, foot-swift and sure.  His cloak spread out behind him, and she let herself fall to the ground so she could touch it.

Her fingers brushed its edge, and the world seemed to cease its turning.  His power surged.  Her bleeding stoped.  Life was given again. She remembered Isaiah, and covered her face with her hands.

Zadkiel had covered his face, too.  And in the distance, Jophiel had set off a Sanctus.

Jesus turned and faced the crowd.  ‘Who touched me?’ he said in alarm.

‘Master, don’t be silly.  Look at the crowds.  It was nothing.’

‘You are wrong.  I felt it.  Who touched me?’

The woman uncovered her face and got her bearings.  She hesitated only a second, and thought, ‘I can do this’.

‘Good girl!’  Zadkiel nodded.  ‘I told you you could.’

His wings spread in triumph, as she stepped forward and lifted her eyes.  ‘I touched you.  It was I.’

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