The Kiss That Heals

 •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 5
One morning Evangeline Booth stood outside the iron gates of a city police court and temporary prison. Others were waiting there too, some out of curiosity and some because of an imprisoned relative or friend. It was a chilly morning with a biting wind, and the, circumstances and atmosphere were far from pleasant.
As the little group waited expectantly for the opening of the gate, the sound of shuffling, heavy feet approaching was welcome. The footsteps came closer and heavier; then loud voices were heard. One voice especially rose louder and more shrill—the voice of a woman. The gates were thrown open revealing a sight which only eternity can erase:— time never could.
It was the woman whose voice we had heard. Two policemen walked in front of her and two behind. One stalwart man held firmly the arm on the right, another the arm on the left. Her hair was uncombed, matted, and disheveled. Her temple on the right was blackened with bruises; clots of dry blood stood upon the temple on the left. Her clothes were torn and bloodstained. She tried to wrench her arms from the grasp of the police. The very atmosphere was polluted with her curses and her oaths. She tossed her head wildly as the six policemen dragged her bodily down the passageway and through the open gate.
Used as she was to such scenes among the poor creatures to whom Evangeline Booth had devoted her life, a look of horror almost wiped the pitying love from her face. As she later said: "Never have I felt so helpless. What should I do? One moment, and this golden opportunity to be used for God would be gone. What could I do?
"What could I do? Could I offer a prayer? No, there was not time. Could I sing? It would have been absurd. Could I give a check? She could not take it. Could I quote a verse of Scripture? Whether it was a divine command, I know not; I never stopped to find out! The impulse of a burning desire filled my heart as she passed. It made me step quickly forward and kiss her upon her cheek.
"Whether the police were taken off guard by my extraordinary action and relaxed their grip, I do not know; but with one wrench she freed her arms. Clasping her hands as the wind tossed her unkempt hair, she looked toward the gray skies with the cry, 'My God!'
"Looking wildly around for a moment, and then up again, she repeated: 'My God! Who kissed me? Nobody has ever kissed me since my mother died.'
"Lifting up her tattered apron she buried her tear-wet face in her hands. Like a little lamb she let them lead her to the 'paddy wagon' which took her to prison. Over and over she was saying: 'No one has ever kissed me since my mother died.' "
A few days later Evangeline Booth went to see her. She told us: "At the door stood the prison matron, swinging her keys around and around. 'Oh, yes,' she said, 'we've had her here many times before. Many times. Poor thing; now we think her mind is gone. She just walks up and down her cell, and asks anyone who goes in if they know who kissed her. Plain balmy!' "
Miss Booth asked the matron: "Will you let me go in and speak to her? I think I am her only friend. Please let me go in, right inside her cell."
As the door was opened for her, the Salvation, Army lassie stepped quickly inside. And how different the prisoner looked! Said Miss Booth: "Her face was clean, and her eyes were large and intelligent. Like a little child she again asked: 'Do you know who kissed me? When the police were bringing me in here somebody in the crowd put a kiss upon my face—the first since my mother died. Do you know who kissed me?
“‘I was a very little girl when my mother died. It was in a dark basement room, for we must have been very poor. She had called me to her and took my little face in both her hands and kissed it. And from that day on, nobody has ever put a kiss upon my face.' And then again she questioned: 'Who kissed me?'
With flowing tears Evangeline Booth confessed, "I kissed you; it was I who kissed you. A kiss on, your poor sin-marred face was all I could offer to express my love for your lost soul. But I can tell you of One whose love was so much greater and more tender than mine could ever be that He gladly came from His heavenly home to this sin-cursed, wicked world to suffer and die for such as you and me. He endured the penalty due our sins so that He might put the kiss of pardon on our brows."
Tears of pity and tears of sorrowful repentance mingled as the two women knelt and besought the Lord that this might be another trophy of His grace. It was clear to Evangeline Booth ere long that the heart that punishment had only hardened over the years was now broken and contrite before God by one touch of love and understanding. Beholding the shining eyes and hearing the happy responses to the old, old story of Jesus and His love, Evangeline Booth could only marvel and say: "What hath God wrought!"