Lent 39 (Good Friday): Thirst

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.

Lent 38 (Maundy Thursday): Forsaken

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
wrecklessly
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)

Lent 37: Family

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. 

Lent 36: Paradise

The second of Jesus’ seven last words, for your prayer and reflection: “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).

Today.
Here and now.
You and me.
Paradise.

Here and now
I meet you in paradise:
on the city street — paradise,
at home and at work — kingdom,
in relationship — incarnation,
with rain on my face —
pure heaven.

Today.
Here and now,
O Christ. You and me.
This is paradise.

Lent 35: Forgiveness

For these days of Holy Week, pray through the seven last words of Jesus. We begin with Luke 23:34 — “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” Take time in prayer to seek a spirit of forgiveness toward someone you begrudge, someone who irritates every pet peeve you have, someone whose injury against you has changed from a wound to a rock that weighs you down in anger.

Peace to you, child of God, and
peace to me — though we disagree.
With forgiveness in each sigh,
I am setting down the stone
that you have cast at me
(and I have held too long);
indeed, I am letting it roll away.
By God’s grace, from now on I will
pick up only the waters of peace.