Friday, April 6, 2012

Good Friday — Part I

"When approaching the great feast days, don't go quoting your own thoughts.  People don't want your drivel.  Give them Classics, give them the Masters, give them real beauty."
—a priest of the Diocese of Lincoln

We have grown so used
to looking on a crucifix.  We’ve seen
so many crosses: delicate and cut
in ivory, and holding up the white
Christ placed in all proportion.  We have seen
so much of symmetry and carven wood,
and we have come so many times to find
Him in a shrine.  We’ve worn this on our breasts
and clung to it —have gone to sleep beneath
it for a prayer— and walked again.  And we
have know Him crucified.  His head is upright,
and He stands upon a solid ledge
with arms extended, and with dignity.
And it is good.  Aye, it is good for us
to shape Him thus in meaning, and to leave
the stark remembrance covered in the years—
as once the darkness closed upon a plainer
sight.  We could not bear to see, no more
than others, older, nearer to His day,
could bear the naked horror of a cross.
They could not look upon a crucifix
so easily —His first of followers—
they could not look: for in their lifetime, they
had seen men nailed.  Beyond a city’s gate,
along a road, they’d seen them; bodies broken,
stretched and drawn and taut upon a stake
and a crossbar; nailed to it, and reddened, writhing,
like a raw scar cut against the sky.
They’d seen them: twisted, sinking of their own
weight pulled upon the nails, with tongues extended,
heads that swung in torture side to side,
that lifted up and cried for death in babbled
spurts of sound.  They’d seen them.  They had seen
men nailed.  This was a death that Romans gave
to slaves.  This was a death that held contempt
and pain and shame — all fastened into one
great spreading gesture, set and bleeding there.
And this was His death, done to Him upon
a hill, and they could not be quick in looking…
even on a sign.

John W. Lynch, A Woman Wrapped in Silence, p. 223f.

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