Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.
Once, an old man in a village had weak eyesight. Much as he tried, he couldn't see the details of the world around him. This state of affairs had been going on for so long, that he was beginning to forget that details existed. His world was getting smaller, and plainer - every year a little bit smaller, a little bit plainer. Finally, he stopped looking at objects or people as individual and unique. He just went through his days fulfilling his obligations. Nothing more.
In the same village, lived a woman who was losing her hearing gradually. First high-pitched birdsong and whistles. Then the low, gravelly speech of the village elder. Season by season, year by year, she missed more and more of the sounds of the village. Until she finally rose in the morning, worked in the day, and went to sleep at night in a blur of muted noises. She could no longer distinguish the sounds that used to annoy her: the rise and fall of her neighbors arguing; her husband's nightly snores; the noises of the village children. She could no longer differentiate music, or laughter. It was all the same - a background tapestry of subdued sound. She just went through her days fulfilling her obligations. Nothing more.
There was a beggar in the village - a simple-minded young man with a raggedy coat and a crutch to help with his limp. Day after day he sat and wandered, sat and wandered, looking for scraps and leftovers from the people of the village. He slept in the village stable in exchange for cleaning out the stalls. He smiled and he laughed as he went through his days fulfilling his obligations. He didn't know a better life; it was good enough.
One day, a stranger came to the village. He was dressed in an ordinary manner. But the villagers didn't find him to be an ordinary man. No, indeed. Wherever he walked, wherever he strode, it seemed he took light along him. Colors became more vivid in his wake. Hard lines softened - what was dull, sharpened, what was dim, brightened. When he spoke, the words came out like music, like poetry; just the sound of his voice caused a stir. When he smiled, the sun shone. When he laughed, the air seemed to chuckle as well. He moved with the gracefulness and gentleness of grass in a breeze. Strong, resilient, fluid.
No one knew what his business was - why he had come to their small hamlet. Curiosity reigned. There was a familiarity about him; recognizable. Something about him resonated within the village. First it was the children, then mothers and wives, the old, and finally the men - who began to follow the stranger. Walk with him. Drink in his words - the music from his lips.
But there were three who were unable to join the crowds - the blind man, the deaf woman, and the beggar.
So the stranger went to them.
"What do you see?" He asked the old man with weak eyesight.
The man looked out to the fields beyond the road. "I see the blue of the sky and the green of the grass."
"What do you see?" The stranger asked again.
The man looked at the crowd that had gathered - his old eyes swimming with the effort to focus through the fog of his vision. "I see a sea of faces floating on an ocean of cloaks - some darker, some lighter, some smaller, some large."
"What do you see?" The visitor took the old man's face in his hand, and turned him so that he gazed upon the stranger.
The atmosphere around them, around the two as well as the following crowd had curiously changed. It felt like a wind a blown, yet no cloak or hair had moved. Arms were tingling, goosebumps forming.
The old man stared. And was silent. The crowd held their breath. The old man squinted, then relaxed his eyes and stared again. And again, remained silent. The crowd inched forward. The old man opened his eyes wide. He focused on the face of the stranger before him. And he started to smile.
"I see you, Lord." He whispered. "I see you." A low murmur went through the crowd. He sees, they remarked, he sees... And from that day on, the old man saw.
The stranger went next to the woman who had lost her hearing. He took her hands in his. They stood for a moment, as if alone, the visitor welcoming her into his peculiar light-filled presence. Then he took her in an embrace and put his mouth next to her ear. None could hear what he said. None knew the words. All saw the result. When he released the woman, the joy on her face shone like a full-moon night - lighting the darkness of the crowd. She began to sing. Her clear, pure voice floated above them; it twined between them, like a vine, growing and reaching. The melody of it filled their ears with music. It was the sound of healing. And it was good.
The last to be seen by the stranger was the beggar. They sat together in the dirt, by the stable where he worked, where he slept. The boy smiled at his visitor. Trusting. Simple. Pure. The stranger gazed back, the light around him encompassing them both. He turned to the crowd.
"Leave us." He commanded, softly.
Disappointed, for they wanted more, the people turned and made their way back to their homes, to their families, to their obligations. However, the village never quite returned to it's ordinary self. The light seemed just a little brighter. The air seemed a little clearer. There were fewer arguments, and more music. More smiles. The villagers set about to prepare a feast for the stranger, a celebration when he returned for all he'd done. The old man and the woman - the two made whole by the stranger also left - their gratitude immeasurable.
The stranger took the boy's hand in his. At his touch, the boy began to laugh. He laughed as they walked, hand in hand out of the village. They laughed together. Nothing more.
Heavenly Father, thank you for grace.
Linking with Tell His Story
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