“UNCLEAN! OUT WITH YOU! To the city gates!”
Those were the last words anyone in the city ever spoke to him. Or at him. Ever since he found the leprosy, he’s been living outside the city with the others — there are ten of them altogether. Each of them has come from different lives, but all of them now share the same story: leprosy.
It renders them unclean, unable to worship or even live in the city. So here they sit, passing each day with each other, waiting for some kind soul to drop them some food. Most people who go in and out of the city never even bother to look in the lepers’ direction.
Many lepers don’t know how or where they contracted the disease, though the religious leaders say it is God’s judgment on them for some reason or another. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. He can’t be sure. And though he is the first to admit he isn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination, he can’t really pinpoint a major sin in his life that might merit the judgment of leprosy. It just doesn’t make sense. And the implied indictment is like salt in the wound.
It is shame upon shame.
And he knows how it works. Leprosy isn’t just one of those things that goes away on its own; he’s seen others slowly killed by it. Eventually, he’d lose feeling on his skin, and his hands and feet would become numb and weak. His flesh would deteriorate with each new sore. It would be with him for the rest of his life — however long that was.
He misses the days of splashing in the river with his kids. The tender embraces of his wife. The nights spent laughing with friends around the table. It’s those simple things in life you miss the most when they’re gone. What he wouldn’t give for an evening the way it was.