On this Easter Sunday, praying with Jesus in the last of his seven words … marking a beginning with words from the end: “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” (Luke 23:46)
My life in your hands.
My life, I daresay, out of hand
in the wake of this crazy, joyful twist:
the release of the spirit
out of itself,
committed to you;
Ready to be
by the slight of your hand
as it holds my spirit, my life
gently before the blinding power
of Easter resurrection.
Part of the 2013 exhibit, “NE6: Kingdom Come,” at the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas
In the final hours of Holy Week, we pray and reflect on the 6th of Jesus’ 7 last words: “It is finished.” (John 19:30)
How late did they stay awake that night, counting the stars, recounting the stories? Were there long spaces of silence between them? Did they laugh, too, just once in a while, remembering the wedding wine … the outrageous catch of fish … the donkey? Surely they wondered what was next (although you can’t really think too far ahead when grief is here and now). The end of one life forces a pause upon surrounding lives: what is finished for one is finished for all. You can never go back.
Continuing to pray with the seven last words of Christ. On this Good Friday, the fifth word: “I am thirsty.” (John 19:28)
At the last: a most human need.
For all of the times you had poured out wine
and provided a miraculous feast,
now at the end you thirsted.
Can I replenish you, the Christ?
As your life wanes, is there anything I can do?
The best I have is sour wine & a sponge,
not even a proper cup.
And if I could, at this moment,
return the favor of spreading an abundant table,
what purpose would it serve? You are dying.
Thirst is the lesser pain to ease.
Still, let me run for more wine!
Give me purpose, urgency, a grocery list and task, I plea,
so that I have a reason to avoid this bitter scene.
Your thirst gives me something to do…
…which reveals what I cannot face
at the foot of the cross: death and uselessness.
We have endowed your death with function and meaning,
trying to save our own from futility.
But there it is:
my own futility, in lengthening shadows;
my uselessness, on the end of a hyssop branch;
your need, unsatisfied at the last.
We pray today on the fourth of Jesus’ seven last words, according to Mark 15:34 — “At three o’clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?’ which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’”
No! Don’t leave us alone!
Don’t let go of us!
You are our lifeline
amidst the raging storm, you are
the ray of light at the end of this long tunnel.
Don’t abandon us, for we don’t know
how to support one another.
We lurch and sway
without care for the
collisions we cause while casting off
one from another, disowning sister and brother,
forsaking God in everyone we meet.
Do not leave us alone,
we cry . . . yet
we have left one another.
O God, how we have left one another!
“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, so you also should love one another.” (John 13:34)
The third of Jesus’ seven last words, for prayer and reflection: “Jesus said to his mother, ‘Woman, here is your son.’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’” (John 19:26-27)
We are strangers, you and I,
no matter how long we have
called each other “family.”
Where your thoughts go,
how they drift and shift
and compel your life –
your inner being is beyond me
and I feel lost from you.
I stay close as best I can,
praying that the ambiguous energy
known as “love” will keep us
connected across the chasm.
We are family, you and I,
no matter how long we have
called each other “stranger.”
Where your life leads,
how your course
winds and climbs –
you impact and influence me,
and I am not me without you.
Though I strive to be separate,
in the shadow of Christ’s cross
one love binds us together
destroying every attempted chasm.
Behold: you are my son, my sister, my father, my friend.
Behold: I am your daughter, your neighbor, your mother.