The newborn baby was thrown out, into a field, where it lay in its own blood, encircled by its own uncut umbilical cord. The baby wore nothing but bruises, mud, and blood. Its parents did not want it, nor did they take the time to wash it, wrap it, or pity it. It’s hard for me to say this, but the parents even abhorred their own child, the day that it was born.
It was a girl.
She had no eye to pity her, as she lay in the tall grass of the field, waiting to die.
Then a man came along and saw her wallowing in her own blood. Getting down on both knees beside her and gently placing her into his hands, he said, “Oh child, live!” (Ezekiel 16:6). The gentle man did everything in his power to care for this little girl. He cleansed her, clothed her, and loved her. As the story goes in the Old Testament book of Ezekiel, “I made my vow to you and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Lord God, and you became mine” (Ezekiel 16:8).
We are the little girl, abandoned and left to die, wallowing in our own blood and caked with mud. We are in a lonely and ironic field, whose flowers are beautiful, but whose elements are brutal. We long for someone to come along and say to our souls, “You are mine.” That alone would be enough to rescue us, restore us, and redeem us.
The man did not need the baby he found in the field, he wanted her; and there’s a huge difference between “need” and “want.”
The part that stands out to me today has to do with his actions toward her. The passage in Ezekiel details very carefully how the man washed her, anointed her, and clothed her. “Then I bathed you with water and washed off your blood from you and anointed you with oil. I clothed you also with embroidered cloth and shod you with fine leather. I wrapped you in fine linen and covered you with silk.” (Ezek 16:9-10). He goes on to describe the costly jewelry he placed upon her.
This is the heart of relationship: washing off someone’s dirt in order to reveal the beautiful person beneath. Prejudice does the opposite, it flings more mud and causes more blood, covering the beauty and condemning the priceless soul. Thus, true community can be modeled after this portrait of the man and his little girl. Community is the place where we cleanse away the dirt from others in order to see who they really are. We refuse to live with stereotypes, fears, and apathy toward one another. We don’t settle for letting others wallow in the filth in which they were cast, but are nurses, every one of us, who care for and covenant with each other.
We claim each other, too, just as we have been claimed by God: You are mine! I’ll take you, dirt and all. Then, after claiming each other, the community refuses to leave a person as he or she was found. We cleanse each other, clothe each other, adorn each other. We make each other beautiful, despite the tragedies of our past.
There are more out there, too, you know. Many more people thrown out into the field, waiting for someone to come along and notice.
© Samuel Kee, 2011