Devotion #12: Party at the Leper Colony (Carlisle’s Story pt 1)

…I stopped dead at the end of the hall, staring incredulously at the ornament hanging on the wall above my head. Edward chuckled at my bewildered expression.
“You can laugh,” he said. “It is sort of ironic.”
I didn’t laugh. My hand raised automatically, one finger extended as if to touch the large wooden cross, its dark patina contrasting with the lighter tone of the wall. I didn’t touch it, though I was curious if the aged wood would feel as silky as it looked.
“It must be very old,” I guessed.
He shrugged. “Early sixteen-thirties, more or less.”
“Why do you keep this here?” I wondered.
“Nostalgia. It belonged to Carlisle’s father.”
“He was the only son of an Anglican pastor. His mother died giving birth to him. His father was an intolerant man. As the Protestants came into power, he was enthusiastic in his persecution of Roman Catholics and other religions. He also believed very strongly in the reality of evil. He led hunts for witches, werewolves…and vampires.”
“They burned a lot of innocent people—of course the real creatures that he sought were not so easy to catch.
“When the pastor grew old, he placed his obedient son in charge of the raids. At first Carlisle was a disappointment; he was not quick to accuse, to see demons where they did not exist. But he was persistent, and more clever than his father. He actually discovered a coven of true vampires that lived hidden in the sewers of the city, only coming out by night to hunt.[…] The people gathered their pitchforks and torches, of course[…] and waited where Carlisle had seen the monsters exit into the street. Eventually one emerged.”
“He must have been ancient, and weak with hunger. Carlisle heard him call out in Latin to the others when he caught the scent of the mob. He ran through the streets, and Carlisle—he was twenty-three and very fast–was in the lead of the pursuit. The creature could have easily outrun them, but Carlisle thinks he was too hungry, so he turned and attacked. He fell on Carlisle first…leaving [him] bleeding in the street.”
“Carlisle knew what his father would do. The bodies would be burned—anything infected by the monster must be destroyed. Carlisle acted instinctively to save his own life. He crawled away from the alley while the mob followed the fiend and his victim. He hid in a cellar, buried himself in rotting potatoes for three days…It was over then, and he realized what he had become.”
Twilight – Chapter 14, 15

Purity is so important to the Christian life. There are two types of attitudes toward purity: purge the sin, or cleanse the sin. They may sound the same, but they are actually quite different. Purging relates to rejection, and we need to fully reject evil. But what about when it is within us, a child, or a friend? Cleansing relates to recognizing the evil that is there, but believing it can be changed and made clean. Having an attitude of purging causes us to live in an Old Covenant witch-hunt style of spirituality. When we’re shouting “burn the witch,” we cannot accept ourselves (or others) as fully as Christ does and this impedes our growth. When we have an attitude of cleansing, we can accept ourselves and each other, knowing that when we repent, we are cleansed and justified in Christ.

As in Carlisle’s case, he was wounded, infected, and had his entire lifepath snatched from him due to an unhappy accident. And he couldn’t go home. He had nowhere to turn for understanding or help. By no fault of his own, he became what his father hated: a vampire, a scourge. This is similar to another infection known to all of us: leprosy.

Lepers could not be a part of regular society for fear of infection. They lived in a separate city, away from everyone else. Any time they ventured out into the main settlement for any reason, they had to keep their skin covered, and shout “UNCLEAN! UNCLEAN!” to herald their proceeding.

But there is another place in Scripture, mentioned as a refuge for accidental murderers: they were sent away to the The City on a Hill. Noone could harm them or press charges, as long as they stayed there, but they had to leave their entire life behind. Provisions were made for those accidental offenders. In this way, the offense was purged from society, but it was not cleansed.

But when Christ came, so did a different approach: he cleansed them. He sent them away, but this time they ran from joy and not from fear or shame. That night there was a party at the leper colony.

Do we want to be the kind of people who are continually pushing others away in an effort to purge ourselves, or do we want to help cleanse them?

Personally, I wanna go to the party at the leper colony.

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~ by sarahthebaker on December 8, 2009.

2 Responses to “Devotion #12: Party at the Leper Colony (Carlisle’s Story pt 1)”

  1. When we have an attitude of purging, we live in the Old Covenant, shouting “burn the witch,” we cannot accept ourselves as fully as Christ does and this impedes our growth. When we have an attitude of cleansing, we can accept ourselves, knowing that when we repent, we are cleansed and justified in Christ. – LOVE THAT!

    Yes, I think I’ll join you at the party at the leper colony. 🙂

    Great post! Write on!

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