Us by Martin Hannington

This is the first guest post on my blog. I have written “Her” and “Him” – see the 2 posts below – different perspectives on the story from John 8 of the woman taken in the act of adultery. Here is another perspective on it, written by my friend and pastor, Martin Hannington.

Jesus and the adulteress by Rembrandt

Jesus and the adulteress by Rembrandt

Today our plan came to completion.

We at last found a way to get this young Rabbi, a real trouble maker, and to show to all that he was not one who held to the words of God as we did. We knew that if we could get him to deny the words of the law we would be able to denounce him as an impostor, a fraud, a heretic, and worthy of punishment, even death.

Everyone knew about the girl, she was the talk of the community. She thought her secrets were hidden but we knew what she was up to and the marriage she had ruined. So a few of us watched her and brazenly we snatched her from the house in the early hours, in the very act – she was a shameless harlot.

We suddenly felt very big – a harlot and a heretic at our mercy – we were about to kill two birds with one stone.

There were many of us who longed for this moment, who wanted to see the end of this rabbi who twisted the truth to make it sound so different to what we had grown up with, who had such a large following, who loved his stories and miracles of the devil. He was deceiving many into seeing God in a wrong way, a God who did not punish wrong.

Ha, in a few hours he will see how God punishes wrong, and by those who really love Him.

The girl was too tired to offer resistance, she had been humiliated and on the receiving end of our anger for some time. We could have stoned her any time but that would ruin our plan and our scheme to test him and humiliate him before so many. And in the temple; yes, our plan was for it to be in the Temple; and where better to shame him, ruin him? Where better to face him with the law of Moses, the commands of God?

In the middle of one of his stories, his nonsense of what God is really like, we pushed her before him, told him of our findings and asked him for his judgements on the harlot who ruined a family and a man’s marriage. We showed him our rocks and God’s word and in the moment we knew we had him – he was stunned to silence, incapable of speech. He stooped to the ground helpless and looked defeated – how I loved that moment.

But that moment was soon to change just as a breeze suddenly becomes a storm.

The stooped frame seemed to draw in the sand for ages; for a moment it looked like he didn’t even know we were there. The silence seemed to last forever, and then he stood and spoke.

There was no anger in his words like ours. No hatred, no rushing to her defence, or thought of himself. It was as if he was as concerned for us as he was for her. As though he knew the outcome of our actions could do as much harm to us as it might to her. He looked at us and quietly said, “ If you are free of sin, go ahead throw the first stone.”

The old men who really disliked him started to move first. I could see they were disappointed but they knew they had been out-thought, they had no argument, they would go and wait for another day, another chance to get him and fulfil their plan. But as I stood longer than the rest, suddenly it all started to make sense; his words were showing us the face of God we have never seen.

Suddenly all the words I had listened to from him as I collected evidence of his corruption and heresy, shouted a new message to me. I saw what others saw and suddenly realised God was very different to what I had imagined and been taught.

His words, “The measure with which you judge will be measured back to you” came back to me, and I knew there was more to him than I had been prepared to see.

Suddenly I was aware of my own ugliness in the face of compassion, of my own judgements, the lack of love and care, of my desire to punish not heal, and the world I was creating all in the name of God who I loved.

I don’t know if I was the last to walk away but I know I walked away different – the face of God now looked very different to me and from today I knew my friends would have to be different, and I rejected by them.


Rodolpho Bernardelli: Cristo e a mulher adúltera, mármore, 1881, Museu Nacional de Belas Artes

Rodolpho Bernardelli: Cristo e a mulher adúltera, mármore, 1881, Museu Nacional de Belas Artes

I saw you long before you saw me, though at first I wasn’t sure what was going on.  I’m accustomed to disturbances, noise and interruptions when I’m teaching, I quite enjoy them as I can often extract an illustration from them; but usually within the temple courts I can expect relative quiet.  The sight of an angry mob hurtling in to ruffle the calm of the sacred precincts is not something I’m used to.

It took me a while to spot you in the middle of that seething mob, but when I did, how my heart went out to you.  Not even allowed the courtesy of covering yourself properly – whatever they were about to accuse you of, nothing in my Father’s law had ever sanctioned robbing a defenceless woman of her human dignity.  You didn’t see me watching you; you with your eyes pinned to the floor, your hair awry about your face, the hot tears making little dents in the sand.

I was taken aback when they stopped in front of me – I hadn’t realised this business was going to be anything to do with me.  But they threw you to the ground at my feet, semi-naked, exposed to the gaze not only of myself and your accusers but of all the men who had gathered to hear my teaching, and curious bystanders.

Only then did you look up and your eyes connected momentarily with mine – deep pools of wretched hopelessness that in other circumstances would have struck me as extraordinarily beautiful.  I held your gaze for as long as you allowed me to – only a split second – but into that brief glance I put all the love I could muster, a love that, I was certain, differed from any you had known before, that demanded nothing of you but wanted only to expend itself for your blessing and joy.

One of the men reached out, pulled you to your feet and stood you right in front of me.  Then he dusted off his hands on a clean cloth as if to remove the infection from having touched you, adjusted his phylactery and sneered, “Rabbi, this woman was caught in the act of adultery.  In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?”

“Such women” – as if you were just a category, not an individual.  They stood there so self-satisfied, convinced they had trapped me – and in one sense I didn’t care about that just at the moment.  But they had used you to bait the trap and you stood 18 inches from me, shaking so hard that I wanted to put out my hands and steady you.  And I could see that you were nothing to them, nothing but a bait for a trap, and I knew that you were everything to my Father, and that there was nothing He wouldn’t do, no price He wouldn’t pay, to rescue you.  They were treating His priceless daughter as less than dung, and the emotion that welled up in me at the sight of your anguished, shuddering form almost overcame me, so I stooped to buy some time to compose myself.  Squatting in the sand, I found myself at your feet, as if doing homage to the wonder that God had created.  I wrote, four letters – Yod, Hey, Vav, Hey.  And at once I knew what answer I would give.

Standing up, I faced them silently, and looked from one to another until I had made eye contact with every man in that semi circle.  “Which of you is the sinless one, the one that has never erred?”  I asked them.  A slightly puzzled silence met me, and the Pharisee who had posed the question to me took an involuntary step back.  “He is the one who should throw the first stone,” I added, and then bent down and added a phrase to the word I had written in the sand – ruah ha-qodesh.

When I stood up again, the men were gone, their silent slinking departure in stark contrast to the noise and bustle of their arrival.  I unfastened my cloak.  “Where are your accusers?” I asked you, lightly tilting your face upwards towards mine by a gentle movement of my hand under your chin.  And then, unable to suppress a chuckle at my own question, “Has no one stayed to condemn you?”

You were startled at first by my laughter, and then you, too, saw the absurdity of any of them having the effrontery to declare himself sinless, and the smile stole from my face into yours, first turning up the edges of your mouth and then creasing the corners of your eyes.  “No one, Lord,” you laughed back at me as I draped my cloak around you.

“Then neither do I condemn you,” I reassured you.  And then, pointing to the words in the sand, not knowing if you could even read, “Don’t do this again.  Instead be the glorious princess that We created you to be.”

You seemed to understand, and tears again splashed onto the sand, but they were tears this time of relief and joy.  You turned to go and I watched you walk gracefully out of the temple precincts, wrapped up in my cloak, clothed in the God who loves you.


What I remember from that day is the sand.  It was all over my feet as I slunk sideways through the door into his house, hoping the shadows would cover my entry.  He was so eager, so hasty, and I so afraid of being caught, there was no time to wash it off from the soles of my feet and out from between my toes.  But it distressed me, all that sand soiling the clean sheet, as if to remind us of what we were doing – sullying something that should have been left pristine.

And then, when they flung open the door and caught us in the act, the thing I most remember is how the wind that was howling up the street whipped in at the open doorway and flayed my naked skin with the grains of sand it had whisked into the air.

I snatched at my tunic, but they thrust me out before I had a chance to put it on, so I wrapped it round me as best I could.  My bare feet scudded over the sand as they dragged me down the street, the cruel wind buffeting with sand every bare patch of skin it could find, like a lacerating scourge, and filling my eyes with grit.

Even the smell of baking bread as they hauled me past the neighbours’ houses was dulled by the sand that was filling my nostrils.  By the time we reached the bottom of the street, my hair was matted with it, and I longed to rub my eyes but I dared not let go of the tunic I was clutching with both hands to try to preserve my last shred of decency.

And then they stopped.  Abruptly.  I bent my head down to rub my eyes with a corner of my tunic, and then looked up again.  They had come to a halt before a young Rabbi and were calling out, all at once, listing my sins and baying for my blood.  I looked down at the sand which caked my feet and ankles, and as I looked I saw Him stoop down beside me and write in the sand.  What was He writing?  A list of my sins?  The commands of the law concerning adultery?  I had never learned to read, so I had no idea.  But I fancied it was an account of my wrongs.

They kept on at Him, urging Him to respond.  So at length He stood up, looked round at them and said, “Let the one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”  Some of them had already picked up large rocks and when He said this they began to drop them, one by one.  I heard the soft thuds, and saw the little flurry of sand fly upwards as each one hit the ground.  And he took no notice, but simply squatted in the sand again, and with one sweep of His hand, erased what He had written and replaced it with one word.  With, in fact, the only word I knew how to read; the one word I had painstakingly memorised to embroider on the cloths in which I had wrapped my firstborn; the word Beloved.

He stood up, dusting the sand from His hands, and asked, “Woman, where are they?  Did no one condemn you?”

I looked Him straight in the eye, this Rabbi who had written the word “Beloved” in the sand, and answered Him, “No one, Lord.”

He smiled.  “I do not condemn you either.  Go.  And from now on, sin no more.”

I don’t really recall how I got home, except that the wind dropped so that the sand no longer rasped across my skin, and somehow the harsh grains that had pained my feet as they dragged me across the ground now felt soft and warm between my toes, as if the universe had been at odds with me, but was now at last my friend.

India blog part 14

I wasn’t planning to write another blog about this trip, but I’m so full of all that has happened, I have to overflow in words or I will burst! The Australian volunteer in the girls’ home decided, in the end, not to order a takeaway, but to cook something different from the usual fare at home. So while she made the tastiest salad I’ve had in a long time, of beetroot, apple, cabbage and feta, drizzled with cider vinegar, S cooked a cheese and vegetable pasta dish while I rustled up a chocolate sponge and chocolate sauce for afters.

After dinner S encouraged the girls to pray a blessing on the birthday girl, and then to pray for me on the eve of my departure. One by one they prayed for us in Hindi, quite lengthy prayers, and then my little storyteller friend began to pray for me. The other girls began to giggle, and I understood why, because I recognised a couple of words which were the same in Hindi as in English She glanced round, looking a little confused and uncertain, at the other girls, who were by now laughing outright, but persisted boldly in praying until she had said all she wanted to say. I hadn’t understood exactly what she had said, but I understood the look of self-doubt on her face, so I thanked her for praying and told her I loved her prayer. I saw the doubt dispel and the smile return to her face. S later told me she had prayed that Aunty would have a safe journey in the helicopter, that they would give Aunty a nice seat in the helicopter, and that I would have pizza when I got home! So later I gave her a hug and told her again how much I had loved her prayer. S told me afterwards that it was the most “real” prayer of all of them, because it was from the heart whereas the others were mainly “programmed” prayers, copying things they had heard others pray.

On the journey home we flew over the mountains of Afghanistan, and the air was so clear they almost looked near enough to touch. A ribbon of river threaded its way through a valley, in an area where the south western slopes of the mountains were jagged rocks in slanted lines, while the north eastern slopes were covered in cascades of snow as if someone had poured glace icing over them. Along the banks of the river I could see village communities, and I found myself praying that the Gospel would reach them, and that God would fulfil His promise to pour out His Spirit on all flesh – even Taliban flesh; even ISIS flesh.
The lady next to me was reading a book called “In Praise of Kali” and was carrying a book by Swami Vivekenander. She started up a conversation by asking me the purpose of my visit to India and I said I’d been volunteering on a charity project for 2 weeks. She asked if I had used my annual holiday from work for it and when I said yes, she said, “I think that’s so amazing that someone would give up their holiday to go and volunteer.” She had been to India for a week with her siblings to scatter their father’s ashes in the Ganges. She told me she was a very spiritual person, and I said I could see that from her reading material, and so was I. She asked me how I became interested in spirituality and I ended up sharing my testimony of how God broke into my life through having a disabled baby. She shared how she’d had a personal experience of God following a difficult period in her life and had become much more spiritual as a result. She said she wasn’t attached to any particular religion, but loves God and practises mindfulness every day. She asked what I do for a living and when I said I was a writer, she asked what kind of writing. I said books and magazine articles, and she asked on what topic. I replied mainly Christian spirituality and disability issues. She asked if I could give an example of a spiritual topic I’ve written about, and I ended up sharing the story of John 4 and how the woman’s discovery of Jesus as an inner well of living water that never dries up mirrored my own experience of Him.

It ended up with us exchanging phone numbers so that she could invite me to go on a Buddhist retreat with her, which said I would be happy to do, and invited her to come on a Christian one with me, which she also said she would. How good of God to give me that opportunity on the way home. God says, “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for me with all your heart.” It is clear this lady is devoting much of her life to the pursuit of God, and she shared with me how a Christian minister friend had prayed with her when her father was dying. So I really pray this conversation on the plane will lead her further on in her journey towards the living God.

Now I’m home, tired and happy, and about to go to bed!

India blog part 13

So, my time here is drawing to an end. What have I learned? I’ve learned that when your phone packs up and you don’t have TV it’s a whole lot easier to hear from God. That’s one thing that won’t be hard to replicate when I get home. I’ve learned that when you give Jesus your packed lunch, He uses it to feed a crowd with enough left over for you to carry home with you. I’ve learned that when you look into the eyes of those the world dismisses, you see Jesus looking right back at you.

When I first thought of coming out here, I told my pastor that this project with the girls’ home had so touched my heart that I just wanted to serve them in some way, and I would come and clean their toilets if it would help. I never imagined I would be sharing my testimony, teaching on pornography, addressing state school teachers from around the city and training local teachers in techniques that should make it easier for them to achieve their outcomes. Those who remember me nearly having a nervous breakdown over being forced to teach Geography at school would have been amused this morning to see me taking a lesson with one of the older, abler students on tectonic plates, formation of mountains by compression forces, and volcanoes!  And I have just come back from running a report writing workshop, although I feel that there is much the people here could teach me about writing reports – I hope at least that they got something out of it. But my offer to clean toilets has been multiplied into all that, and I’m coming home full to overflowing with all God has done in me.

The girls arrive at this home often traumatised, having learned that they are worthless and their lives don’t matter. And I don’t want to minimise that or pretend there are magic, easy solutions, or that there’s a 100% success rate in diverting these girls into a permanent, worthwhile lifestyle. But the work here is making a very real difference, and there is a lot to be learned from girls who shut the door on the past and refuse to dwell there. You would hardly guess, from the laughter, song and dancing that fills this home at all times (and I mean that – at least one of those three things is always going on), the sorrows out of which the girls have come. Above all they are being given hope, hope of a different future. And I observed to S today that I find it quite remarkable that 11 girls can live together like this with, apart from the occasional slight shimozzle, really no friction or bickering. There is an atmosphere of peace and lightness here.

Since my last stay, two new Indian staff members have joined S and E in the day to day running of the home. They are sharing a bedroom with the Australian volunteer, whose birthday is today. So they stayed awake last night when she went to sleep, and as soon as the clock passed midnight they woke her up to wish her a happy birthday, produced a chocolate cake with a musical candle in it, and had a midnight feast in their room. I slept through the proceedings in the room opposite, but enjoyed a slice of the chocolate cake at lunchtime today. Now we are waiting for the birthday girl to decide what kind of birthday meal she wants so a take-away can be ordered in. Her suggestion of rice, dhal and sabzi was less than enthusiastically received, since we have that for lunch and dinner every day!

This will probably be my last blog post from here, and as I have no more preparation to do for workshops, I can relax and enjoy an evening with a nice meal and a movie. I will be leaving a huge chunk of my heart behind (along with the French knitting dolls which are still being used all round me as I sit here typing – it’s definitely become the latest craze). I wish I could tuck every one of these girls into my suitcase and bring them home, and yet I know that here is where they belong, on their home soil, to be beacons of light and a testament of hope, of what can happen when man’s inhumanity collides with God’s redemption.

Oh – and I’ll be bringing home a French knitted bowl which one of the girls made for me.

India blog day 12

I didn’t write a blog yesterday because I was just too tired when I got in from the teacher workshop. It was a great success, with 60 enthusiastic teachers all keen to learn (not to mention enjoying a day out of the classroom; I remember that feeling well!) The morning was on teaching ethics, and while my presentation overran (whoops!) there was real engagement from the audience who had intelligent questions and genuine interest. My host then spoke powerfully about the ethics of teaching, how we approach the task and treat the students, and it was clear that many of the delegates do have a genuine heart for the young people they teach, and a dissatisfaction with a system that values nothing about them except their exam results – something that will be familiar to British teachers who are also struggling to demonstrate that every child matters in a system that seems to indicate that every exam result is what matters.

In the afternoon I spoke on teaching disabled students. I feel excited for India because I sense there is just the beginning of an awakening towards the rights and the value of disabled people, in the way that we began to see in the UK 35 – 40 years ago. While I have been here, there have been news reports of mass demonstrations in some Indian cities of disabled people demanding equal rights. Several of the teachers here at the workshop are already working hard to include disabled students but battling against far harder odds than we face in British schools. My hope is that they will be able to take the notes I provided back to their schools to be shared with the school leadership, and that people will begin to see what can be achieved for disabled students.

In the evening the girls were practising a dance routine – I wish I could post a video of it but it would have been impossible to capture it and still preserve their anonymity. One of the girls has made use of some of the wool I brought to knit herself a very pretty bag.  She did this without a pattern except the one in her head, and designed the decoration herself – here are a couple of photos of it.


Today is my last full day here. As soon as I finish writing this I will go and join in helping the girls with their studies, which they do every morning. Then this afternoon I will be leading a workshop for all the leaders of the various projects here on how to write reports and tailor them for different audiences. That is my last engagement, so I’m looking forward to a relaxing final evening with the girls, which will be all the more enjoyable because it is the birthday of the Australian volunteer here in the girls’ home.

India blog part 11

What I forgot to mention in yesterday’s post was that being Shrove Tuesday (or Fettisdagen as they say in Sweden) our meeting was followed by an hour or so of drinks and chat, accompanied by semla , which is to the Swedes what the pancake is to us Brits on Shrove Tuesday. The semla is a bun which has had the top sliced off and the inside scooped out, mixed with milk and sugar and reinserted into the bun, then topped with cream before the top of the bun is replaced and dusted with icing sugar. They were delicious, and more than made up for missing our own normal Pancake Day tradition.

The days have been getting milder while I’ve been here, but today was the first one that could really be called warm. I went out in a long top, cardigan and jeans, and soon had to take off my cardigan. The girls had a day out, and after debating with myself whether I could afford to abandon the preparation for the 3 remaining talks I have to give, I decided to fling caution to the winds and go out with them. The outing involved a mile or so walk to the station, a death defying dash across the main road to the bus stop and a very long bus ride across the city.

Commuters in India seem to work on the opposite principle to British commuters. At home everyone adopts the pose of an ironing board and endeavours not to have any contact with the next person if they can possibly help it. Here everyone squashes up against everyone else without apparently a second thought. The bus ride was followed by all 14 of us squeezing into 3 E-rickshaws for the remainder of the journey to a huge mela, or craft and food fair.

G, the lady who stays with the girls overnight every Wednesday to allow E and S to go out to the church Bible study, was waiting there for us. She spends Wednesday evenings doing lessons with the girls, teaching them among other things cooking. The idea today was to let them look around the stalls and then visit the food court where she would let them watch various foods being prepared, and talk to them about the techniques used.
Hand painting of plates at the mela

The mela was a real feast for all the 5 senses. Beautiful clothes and fabrics, intricate handicrafts, elaborate carved furniture and ornate jewellery greeted the eyes. (Not having bought myself anything so far this trip, I indulged in a couple of pairs of earrings.) Tempting smells lured us in every direction. thumb_IMG_0497_1024Different types of music met us in the different areas of the huge grounds where the event was taking place. We came to a stage with audience seating in front of it where an event was preparing to start, so we sat down to watch. It turned out to be a performance on Japanese instruments. It sounded strange to western ears. I really tried my very hardest to appreciate it, but I have to confess I found it painful to listen to. So, apparently, did a lot of other people, as about a third of the audience got up and walked out, including us, I’m sorry to say. A little later we heard some lively Indian music coming from the same place and so we hurried back in time to see an intricate and entertaining dance by 4 performers, to an animated musical accompaniment, much more popular, and easier to listen to.
Indian dancing

Continuing on through the mela, I must confess I was tempted by a Nescafé stall, but not wanting to be separated from the others, I tore myself away. We came to an outdoor café where food was being freshly cooked to order. We sat down and ate steamed chicken momos with red chutney – piping hot, spicy and delicious. thumb_IMG_0437_1024The lure of the Nescafé stall became too strong and I went with the Australian volunteer and a new staff member to buy coffee. No, it wasn’t up to Karuna Coffee’s standard, and yes, I had vowed never to give another penny of my money to Nestlé, but in times of desperation needs must, and I have really missed my regular cups of coffee. I assumed this café stop was lunch but I was mistaken. After wandering around some of the remaining stalls of the mela we set out back to G’s house for lunch. I wondered why we were walking down the middle of the road with our backs to the oncoming traffic when there were perfectly good pavements on either side that we could have walked on, but when I mentioned it from time to time no one seemed interested, so I thought, “when in Rome…” and continued dodging the cars and motorcycles with the rest of them.

We arrived at G’s house to find her husband waiting to give us the warmest of welcomes. He had already arranged enough chairs for the 15 of us, and as we took our seats, he chatted to each of us in turn, taking a very genuine interest in each of the girls, volunteers and staff. G had prepared a meal of chicken biryani which she now produced and we all ate our fill. We seldom have dessert here, so it was a real treat to be given custard topped with pomegranate seeds and apple. After lunch her husband took out his guitar and led us in a time of worship then prayed over us before we set out again, and G walked us to a place where we could get bicycle rickshaws back to the bus stop. I felt very sorry for our rickshaw driver – with four of us on board it took all his strength to pedal, and at one point he had to get off and drag it up the hill. I felt we should have paid him an extra premium for the fat English lady on board.

The bus ride home was interesting. Three of the girls were travel sick, and they kept vying for turns at the open window, not always with great accuracy I’m sorry to say. The bus passed the ruins of a large fort and I noticed monkeys high up on the walls above us. That’s probably the nearest I’ve got to doing any sightseeing on my two trips here. We all arrived home tired and happy, with a healthy ache in our legs from having been on our feet all day. Before long the girls had rustled up chai for us all and we relaxed and chatted over the day. I can only say there are 3 girls I love at home and 11 girls I love here, and I’m going to be so torn when I go home on Saturday.
We had a really inspiring Bible study at church this evening about how the Body of Christ should work, with all of us making the contribution God has given us. And now I’m back home finalising my preparation for tomorrow, a conference with teachers from state schools across the city. Apparently the final numbers are in and we are expecting about 60 teachers. In the morning I have to speak on teaching ethics. In the British syllabus we teach a wide variety of philosophical and religious views, and equip students with the critical thinking skills to evaluate them and decide which they agree with, but what we don’t do is tell them what to think or which mode of ethics is best. Whereas here what they want to know is how they can guide their students towards making good moral decisions and developing a moral compass that will make them socially responsible citizens. So although much of the material that I draw on will be what I was teaching in the UK, the way I apply it will be very different.

Then in the afternoon I’m speaking on teaching disabled students, and again it will be quite difficult to adapt what I know for the Indian context. For me, the basic tool for planning and assessing the disabled child’s progress in learning is the Individual Education Plan. But I’ve been told there’s no point trying to explain this here, because I will be talking to teachers who have 70 in a class and may never manage to learn all their names, whose parents all want them to get top grades and will not be impressed if they take time away from the syllabus to devote individual attention to students with learning disabilities.

It’s hard to see, in that context, how the needs of disabled students can be met, so I’m going to focus more on how, if you design your lesson plan for the student with difficulties, all your students will benefit, and instead of planning a higher level lesson and differentiating for the less able students, you can design your lesson for the less able and provide extension work for the more able students. It’s not ideal but in the context here it’s probably the way to begin. I take heart from the fact that there have been demonstrations in some Indian cities while I’ve been here by disabled people demanding equal rights, just as we saw in the UK in the 1970s and 80s. If that movement gains momentum as it did in the UK, in years to come the situation here will almost certainly improve for disabled people as it has done at home.

I’m indebted to my Australian fellow-volunteer for today’s photos, as I forgot to take my camera out with me.