They’re going to crucify you for staying the same.
on my way in, fresh from the country,
to Great Jerusalem, the Holy City
to celebrate Passover, thinking of freedom
and feasts and those deep songs,
ah those deep songs, the deep songs of Zion…
singing of our God’s core act in our history
when our sins were placed on that innocent lamb
and we huddled safe ‘neath that thick crusty blood
drying over our heads on the lintel…
and dripping down over us…
But I didn’t know what this day held for me!
A burden offensive I did not deserve,
A shame I did not seek to bear for myself!
I was suddenly thrust in the middle of angry men
and wailing women rushing to Golgotha,
the place of the Skull and such sinister lack!
I was seized from the crowd! What the fuck!
Take your hands from me!
Who are these crowds and who is this crushed Man?!?
Lynch mob? A Riot? What! A crucifixion!?
Take that crossbeam off my back and unhand me!
Why do you hurt and defile me with this offense?
Oh…cus my skin is black. That’s it…again
Black and dishonored, blatant offensive
and reeking with less than, no station in your sight
you burden me with this beam meant for that broken king
staggering there right in front of my eyes
so bloody, so beaten, such shame and affront!
I reject your hate burden and wash my hands clean!
But the soldiers and swords at my neck said otherwise,
and I walked behind the condemned shameful shamble
who clearly was cursed and would hang from this tree,
dishonored by Rome, so repugnant to me…
and then back we went, outside the city walls
climbing that desolate hillside so distant!
Wrong place, wrong time, how did I get here,
walking behind this weak beaten Jesus
and my beautiful Passover torn from my hands
in stark interruption and shadows of crosses?
There I walked, behind him and lost in my thoughts
and I ate the dirt gritty outside that great city.
Then Jesus stopped, His chest heaving in agony
and dripping blood, He turned to the women
who mourned there and wailed, and He spoke to them
something so strange and unusual, mayhap just farcical
In this absurd tableau, in this mockery here
of the beautiful Passover there!
“Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me;
weep for yourselves and for your children.
For the time will come when you will say,
‘Blessed are the barren women,
the wombs that never bore
and the breasts that never nursed!
They will say to the mountains,
“Fall on us!” and to the hills, “Cover us!”‘
For if men do these things when the tree is green,
what will happen when it is dry?”
I recognized these lines as the words of a prophet
and spoken of old by our God Who would show heart
with love that would not quit or come to an end…
and then Jesus walked on, up that hill on that path
to the place of the skull where they stripped Him stark naked
and took His piece and mine, and nailed them together
and propped that cross in the sky and nailed Him there to die…
and me, stood there, dumbly
looking on stupidly
this rank act so coarse
and bloody and final
Then I was shoved to the ground and they kicked at me,
told me my work here was done and it wasn’t
my problem or burden to bear, it was all on His shoulders
so get out of here! But I stayed, and I saw how His red Blood ran ragged
and dripped from those beams, His and mine there united
I heard Him cry out to His Father in Heaven,
I wondered if that was Our God of Passover???
I saw Him speak to a criminal there right beside Him
He told this man Paradise waited! He spoke to His mother,
He suffered in agony, said He was THIRSTY, so thirsty for comfort!
“Father, forgive them, they know not what they do”
and then they mocked and called Him King of the Jews!
Then He gave up the ghost to the Hands of His Father
And that lamb then, this Lamb now, merged one with the Other!
Now, these years later and older (and younger)
I think of the words of a poet disturbing
the beginning is often the end, and I think of that Cross
such a stumbling block to every toe of the living and dead,
and the Man who had hung there, and died,
and the earthquake that followed and the curtain of Presence
was torn from the Top to the bottom (just like my heart).
Twisting inside me, entwined there in red and white
lamb and Lamb, Passover and that odd “Pass-Under”
knitted together and stuck in my craw
in the echoes and memories of that long walk
that I took, there behind Him, and His piece and mine
and the stories of death conquered, stones rolled away
and a risen sun dawning on Risen Lord Laughing!!
I was on my way somewhere else…
the cross, this shocking interruption
on that day, on that red death day…
and so it remains now
and forever more.
“The dripping blood our only drink,
The bloody flesh our only food:
In spite of which we like to think
That we are sound, substantial flesh and blood-
Again, in spite of that, we call this Friday good.” T. S. Eliot
Events leading up to the cross,
they seem like something of a game
of push and shove or pull and push
in this cult of honor/shame
and I wonder and I ask
Does anything really stand a chance
here in this fatal tug of war?
And what about Him? Jesus?
Clearly shamed and shamed profoundly,
publicly rejected and abandoned,
clothed in stark humiliation,
torn by jaws of victimization…
and willingly choosing
this broken ground
(this broken me).
What kinship does He speak of,
what kingship does He claim when
He dons my crown of thorns
and He takes my purple robe
and He lets Himself be branded
with my fetid Scarlet A?
What shame and ridicule
does He siphon
from our darkling hearts?
We are such a clouded vision
jockeying and jostling
for power and position,
trembling in our lust
for quick liberated feet.
We have occluded vision
caught between the blind that see
and priests and prefects that do not.
And then there is that copper matter
of His blood spilled shamefully and
His death sprawling shamelessly
across the breadth of history,
a kingly shepherd dying here
His life laid down so lovingly,
a risen savior reigning there…
At the intersection
of honor and of shame
can you see?
That Shining Ever Moment?
That Peculiar Gleaming Beauty?
It towers there, quiet, unobtrusive
and starkly interrupting
That Abandoned Empty Cross…
crucifixion singing in the center
giving voice to what is broken
in this dark and dying world
one song inextinguishable
surging somehow inside life and death
it galvanizes all things, transforms everything,
it plays, this lone hymn hanging
of the Hangman Finally Hung
in dissonance, resolve,
tension and release
inexplicable black tragic tenor notes
unexplainable red suffering,
scrawling over bass drone
deep and purple-bruised
by perplexing dark despair
and I stare…I stare…I stare…
in mute horror mixed with wonder
and the jarring jangly notes
swirl and slash, they cut and caper
around that Body Broken
the dissonant nightmare score
is writ there on His face
is writ there on His back
is writ there on His head
is writ there on His hands and feet
is writ there in grace notes
is writ there bloody, permanent.
is writ there permanent
* (dedicated to my Tortoise, in her entirety)