The Big, Red Stamp


She walks on the cobblestone street, trying to stay out of the reach of others. She knows if she gets too close they will grab a hold of her, leave that mark on her. The imprint of that stamp, those big, bold, red letters, they scream at her from the hands of everyone who passes her on the street.

REJECTED

So many of them have a stamp and use it liberally. It is easy to hold onto, easy to use. All around her are people with those red letters imprinted on their heads, arms, backs...

hearts.

Those people who have been marked, they walk with heads bowed low, arms folded tight across their middle. The shame of the mark they carry, it keeps them from making eye contact with anyone. She keeps to the middle of the street, out of the reach of others.

The fear, though...

The fear that they will somehow get to her, somehow mark her with their stamp of rejection, it hangs over her like a dark, dreary cloud. How would she survive the shame of the mark? How would she live with it? She keeps walking, wanting nothing more than the privacy of her own walls, her own home. There, no one can get to her, no one can see her, no one can mark her.

Alone is the only defense against this mark of others.

Without warning, someone grabs her arm from behind, and whirls her around. The face of a stranger comes in to view and she is paralyzed by fear. She didn't see this stranger coming, didn't have time to run, to get away. The stranger glowers at her with small beady eyes that make her tremble in fear. He laughs a low, dirty laugh. The very thing she has always feared, it now looms before her in the form of this stranger with the iron grip on her arm. With one swift move, she feels the weight of the stranger's mark on her head. It sends her to her knees and the stranger marks her everywhere...arms, back, legs...heart. She stays there, in the middle of the street, long after the stranger is gone, face wet from tears, arms clutched to her chest. It occurs to her, as she is bent over on the ground, that she can join the crowd now, those off to the side, those who have been marked by rejection. She is one of them now.

She senses a light, sees it on the ground, and she looks up. 

Coming down the street is a man. He is coming toward her and all she can do is stare, captivated by the light that surrounds this man. He comes to stand in front of her, then he kneels. He kneels right in front of her. Who is this man that he would walk right up to a marked person? Who is this man that he doesn't fear the reaction of the people with the stamps or the shame she now carries? She lowers her head at the reminder that she is shamed by the mark of rejection. Whoever this man is, surely he wouldn't want to be this near to a marked person.

No one does.

He reaches out then, and she sucks in air at the surprise of his touch to her hands, clenched to her chest. She cannot hold them back though, for something in this man's touch feels different. She feels the need to let him take her hand.

He pulls her up to stand with him and she finally braves a look at his face. She has never seen so much light before. She notices that this man has no marks on him nor does he carry a stamp.

Who is he? 

He raises hands for her to see and she realizes he is marked, but it is different from hers. She sees scars on his hands that must have been very painful wounds.

"My marks are enough to take yours away," he says to her, gently.

She doesn't understand how the scars of this man can remove the marks of rejection on her. He is so full of light though, more than she has ever seen, and she wants so desperately to be free of the ugly red stamp all over her.

"How is that possible?" she asks timidly. She is afraid to believe that is possible.

"Just believe," he whispers.

She closes her eyes at the thought. Could it be that simple? Just believe what this man says and he will free her of these marks? What does she have to loose? She is already marked, already shrouded in shame. She looks at him again, and with words that carry on the wind she responds...

"I believe."

He smiles at her and she stumbles back at the force of it. She watches as he raises a marked hand. He steps close to her and one by one, he touches her marks and they each disappear. She hiccups a laugh as she stands there, helpless, but finding freedom she has never known as this man wipes away her marks, her ugly red stamps. Her heart...her heart, he saves for last. He asks again, with a whisper as soft as a gentle breeze...

"Do you believe?"

"I believe," she says without hesitation.

She is so caught up in the presence of this man that she forgets the crowd looking on, she forgets the stamps, the shame, she forgets all of it. He reaches out then, and with one marked hand, he covers her heart. She breathes deep at the feeling of peace that comes over her. When he pulls his hand away, she looks down and what she discovers steals her breath, causes her to cry out. In letters of fire, a fire that burns but doesn't consume, she sees a word emblazoned across her heart.

CHOSEN

She looks up at him with tears streaming down her face and she smiles her first true smile. In response, this man begins to laugh and the sound of it is like water to every pore of her soul. She stretches arms wide and twirls around, laughing with him. She has been chosen! She is no longer rejected, but chosen! She finally stops twirling and faces him again, still smiling. He smiles back and nods to the word he has printed over her heart.

"The other marks won't stay now, for this one burns them all away."

She reaches up again, placing a hand over her heart that beats hard from the exhilaration of it all. Like ashes on the wind, the marks of rejection are gone. She now stands in the middle of the cobblestone street free of shame.

"Show them," he whispers, nodding to the crowds off to the side, looking on with intense curiosity. "Lead them to me." he says, looking back into her eyes.

She turns and looks, realizing that a large crowd has gathered...and that their eyes are on this man standing here with her. "Who should I tell them you are?" she asks with a whisper.

"I am enough."

She turns back with surprise and looks into his eyes, eyes of fire. She places her hand over her heart again, where that word is blazing bright, and with a small nod and tears in her eyes, she whispers back what she now knows to be true..

"You are enough."

With a gentle stroke of her hair, he smiles, then turns, and she is overcome again by light, so much she has to shield her face from it. She watches him walk down the street and fade into the light, and she is overwhelmed with the feeling that she is not alone anymore. She looks down at her heart, where freedom blazes bright, and she feels his presence as real as if she were looking into his eyes.

She turns to the crowd then, and whispers the words that carry on the wind, the words that will carry to the hearts looking on...

"You are enough." 

Indeed, more than enough.

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