She had always been on the outside, in the cold, bleak miserable darkness. She had always wished she could be an inside person, sitting at a laden table, with warmth and light, surrounded by good friends who really loved her, and who were glad to receive her love. Inside people always looked happy. They sat there is abundance, and all their needs were provided, but, best of all, they belonged! She wanted so badly to belong like they did, but she was an outside person, and outside people didn’t belong.
The truth was, outside people didn’t even belong to each other. They made room for each other when they needed to, because life was easier that way, no one had the energy to be always fighting. But they didn’t love each other, they used each other, and counted themselves lucky to be used. It was better than being ignored, at least if someone was using you they gave you back a momentary sense of your own existence, and if you were smart you find a way to use them back at the same time. It wasn’t what she wanted.
As long as she could remember, she had wanted to be an inside person. Out there, alone in the dark, she would sidle up and peek through their windows. She would gaze longingly at their little clubs and households, the comfortable chairs, the smiles softened by the warm firelight, the way they would look at each other, touch each other .... There was always food and drink, indoor people never seemed to go hungry, but most of all, they belonged!
But there was one place she returned to again and again: the King’s palace! It was large, it was richly furnished, crowded with people, and the tables were barely visible under all the food. But mostly it was because of the King himself. He was so beautiful! If only she could belong to Him! To be in the same room as Him for the rest of her life would be Heaven! There were letters over the door of the palace which seemed to spell out a message saying anyone was welcome, but once or twice, when she had had tried to walk in, the guards outside had turned her away. She wasn’t good enough. She was dirty and ragged and alone, there was rain in her hair and tears in her eyes. She understood why they turned her away, she would soil the beautiful palace just by stepping inside it.
She tried to forget about it, but she couldn’t. Other outside people didn’t seem to care, but she cared desperately. She couldn’t stay away.. Night after night she pressed up close against the windows, growing weary and weak with longing. One day she was so desperate that, scarcely noticing what she was doing, not even thinking about her own unworthiness, she walked straight past the guards and into the banquet chamber. Unbelievably, she had made it inside. She stood against the wall, out of the way, and watched and wondered.
After a while she grew tired of standing. It was precious and wonderful to be inside, but it wasn’t enough. She still didn’t belong. A cruel voice whispered in her heart that she had only got in by accident, and if the King saw her he would surely have her thrown out. So she cowered in the shadows, afraid of drawing attention to herself. Sometimes she would venture close to one of the tables on the outermost edge, but the moment she approached the people there would huddle together and spread out their elbows, making it very clear that there was no room for her there.
She was crying again, slow, silent tears that managed to make her face look even dirtier. Distressed that, even in here, she was no closer to her heart’s desire, she found herself calling out, in a cracked and broken whisper, “My Lord and My King!”
No one could have heard her. No one could have possibly heard her amongst the noise of the feasting. Those nearby showed no reaction at all. Yet, unbelievably, the King had heard. Impossibly, He rose from His place and was walking towards her. For a moment she thought that she would be condemned to something even worse than being thrown out. But there was no mistaking the smile on his face, the love n His eyes. He looked at her as if she was the only person in the room. He was by her side, his arms were around her. “Come, “ He said, and that one word was enough. He drew her with Him, to the centre of the room, to His own table, to the chair right next to His. She sat down in wonder. With His own robe He wiped her clean -- her hands, her face, her feet – and His robe was as white as before. Then He reached out, and with His own hands, the hands with the strange scars, He served her bread and wine ..