Beautiful

Early afternoon, the sun beats down.
It’s uncomfortably warm and the lack of breeze is stifling.
A man sits just outside the gate, drenched in a pool of his own sweat.
Withered and worn, not many pay him attention, let alone any coin.
He’s not easy to look at; gnarled and mangy.
The sun, nor time, has been kind to this cripple.
He sits, ashamed, eyes never leaving the ground.
He’s felt alone his entire life, despite being surrounded by people.
The crowd is not his friend.
Energy doesn’t accompany him either.
All he can afford to exert is to raise a cupped hand to passersby.
But it returns to him as it leaves: empty.

“Look at us!” he hears.
Words he’s never heard before.
Blankly he stares up, two men standing above him.
He expects perhaps to have a real meal tonight.
But what he’ll get tastes much, much sweeter.
“Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give to you.”
His eyes wrinkle in puzzled expectancy.
One man’s hand extends down to him.
“In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.”
The words are firm and powerful.
Their hands clasp together.
The beggar rises.

His feet and ankles grow strong.
Muscles he’s never used are suddenly strengthened.
After a lifetime of sitting, lying, and being carried, he walks.
Not only does he walk, but he runs.
Not only does he run, but he jumps.
Never before in his life!
Joy is too small a word.
Elation is an understatement.
He can’t contain his delight, or his gratitude.
Words of praise flow like a fountain.
Wonder and amazement abound.
For the first time in his life, gazes are cast in his direction for reasons other than disgust.

The cripple exclaims in awe.
The beggar exalts the high heavens.
The cripple is finally healed.
The beggar is simply beautiful.

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