Burial (Holy Saturday)

Let me wrap, and wrap, and wrap this pain.
Let me bind it tightly to stop the bleeding
that is no longer. Let me anoint this agony
with frankincense and myrrh. Let me wash
the grit from the wounds so that suffering
does not soil the interment, the goodbye,
the letting go, the walking away, the end.
Do not fault me extra linens or quiet space;
there is no return to the joy that once was.
Carry on and in a while I will follow, but
for now death has my time and attention.

In Seven Words (Good Friday)

What evil has been done? came the question, but they were too enraged. His innocence was not worth more than their satisfaction, their safety, their righteousness. He must be guilty, because they must be good. Arrest him, they shouted. Let him be a lesson, they said, so others see that their respectability must overcome our insecurity if they are to be spared. And because their fear was so important, he was sacrificed. No number of shots was too great, though he pleaded:

Hands up, don’t shoot.

As he was dying, they stood around and mocked him: you don’t scare us anymore. To one another they said: He had a gun, did you see it too? Be sure to report that he lunged at us first. Some who were nearby asked him, Why didn’t you run? Others rallied and said, He will save us; he will be the lesson so no one else dies this way. But he said only,


They would not allow family members and friends to keep him company as he died, or to say their goodbyes and reassure him of their love. From a distance they could only weep. He looked at them, at the women who had borne him through blood and water and oil, who had fed him and taught him and held him when it seemed that his hope and strength would fail. Their grief would be a shawl that wrapped around them for the rest of their lives; they would carry his name long after the world forget theirs. Loving them, he said,

Say her name.

Time stood still as he died. There was nothing to do but watch, and weep, and wait, and rage as he struggled. Those who were satisfied by his subjugation had long since left the scene. Only the authorities remained to keep order and commend each other’s valor. Seeing them in their satisfaction, in their certainty, in their relief, he gathered his waning strength and cried,

No justice! No peace!

And then with what was left, he whispered,

I can’t breathe.

The sun faded. Evil and sorrow and fury grew like a storm cloud as far as the eye could see, so it seemed for a time that love and life would always pale in comparison to violence and death. Those who watched him wondered if joy would dawn again and if justice would sing again. Knowing their hearts, he said,

Stay woke.

And as if there was nothing left but prayer, he sighed as he died,




Loving You (Maundy Thursday)

We could make it work, you know. This drive of yours to persist all the way to death wouldn’t have to have the final word. Remember how often you talked about love? Remember how hard you laughed — with friends, with lepers, with children? Couldn’t that be the work that drives you? Couldn’t we carry that work together, or are you so determined to be alone? What if the poured-out sacrifice was healing oil instead of ebbing blood? What if the last touch we knew in this world was a loving caress instead of piercing spear? I’m trying to show you another way. Could we not break open a jar of blessing? Must it be our hearts that break?


As far as the sky is stretched
from east to west,
I am held.

As deep as the tree is planted
from mystery to miracle,
I am held.

As long as time is sustained
from birth to death,
I am held.

As high as the wind is called
from whisper to storm,
I am held.

As close as the galaxy is bound
from cell to star,
I am held.

on Isaiah 42:5-6


I don’t have the whole tree
but I have a branch.

I don’t have the whole song
but I have a harmony.

I don’t have the whole ocean
but I have a stream.

I don’t have the whole wardrobe
but I have a coat.

I don’t have the whole garden
but I have a flower.

Hosanna to the Holy Everything
who accepts our fragments.

Blessed is the Stunning Sovereign
who loves our specks & dust.