The Leper

“Unclean!  Unclean!  Unclean!” shouts he who has been cast aside.  Quickly the passers-by pass me by, lowering their heads with averted eyes and drawing cloths of protection across their mouths and noses.  Their skin is smooth and their bodies are intact.  Their health is obvious and their strength is evident.  In groups and families they travel, talking companionably along the way.  Time beats incessantly in this isolation, neither with speed nor by standing still.  Day after day, night after night, minute by minute I cannot forget that I am unclean and unworthy.  I am unclean and unworthy of eye contact.  I am unclean and unworthy of companionship of family and friends.  I am unclean and unworthy to be touched.  If anyone approaches, I must warn them that I am unclean and therefore unworthy.  I am condemned to a life sentence among the dead.

“Unworthy!  Unworthy!  Unworthy!” shouts she who has not been chosen.  Quickly the passers-by pass me by, lowering their heads with averted eyes and drawing their husbands and children closer to their side.  Their stride is smooth and their purpose is intact.  Their goal is obvious and their drive is evident.  In couples and families they travel, chatting companionably along the way.  Time beats incessantly in this isolation, neither with speed nor by standing still.  Day after day, night after night, minute by minute I cannot forget that I am unworthy.  I am unworthy of love, dignity and respect.  I have the companionship of family and friends, but my lesser value without a husband and without children is evident and obvious.  If anyone approaches of similar singletude, I must warn them that I am unworthy but desperately need to be paired.  I am too old to be a girl but not yet entering the rite of passage as a woman.  I am condemned to a singledom among the kingdom of matrons.

“Heretic!  Heretic!  Heretic!” shouts he who stands apart.  Quickly the passers-by pass me by, lowering their heads with averted eyes and drawing closer together for there is safety in numbers.  Their walk is defined and their Bibles are intact.  Beliefs are worn like hearts on a sleeve.  In groups and families they travel, prophesying fervently all the way.  Time beats incessantly in this isolation, neither with speed nor by standing still.  Day after day, night after night, minute by minute I cannot forget that I am a heretic and therefore unholy.  My beliefs fundamentally are in agreement but the tenets and convictions of my faith differ.  I am unholy and a source of shame within the community.  If anyone approaches, they must be warned of my rebellion.  I am condemned to a sentence of pride and oddity among the righteous.

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