Two treks up the high mountainside for God:
First climb with light pack, heart open to awe
The great man of God ached, yearned and saw God,
And watched God’s finger carve on stone the Law.
But the people, Ah! his people, they turned to gold,
Loving it, their greedy false self they fed:
when their prophet returned, he saw they had sold
their souls, and gold had mutely turned to lead.
Moses broke the stones, climbed the breathy track,
This time took care with God the work to share:
In anger and in love he wrote the second plaque,
And held God’s heart in God’s shekinah glare.
One thing of Moses’ veil is worth to know:
Light that comes from inside has the brightest glow.
Moses receives the Law – depicted in a Carolingian manuscript about 840 A.D.
On the Tables of Kindred, Affinity,
We’re joined most closely to holy Trinity:
Father, good Spirit and Brother in divinity,
In the cycles of love we are caught.
This is love by intention and by descent,
Chosen because searching our God has sent
the Son wherever He haunts His sheep’s scent:
By God’s loving desire we are sought.
Chosen too because we’re God’s own pedigree,
Though human, divine surprisingly agree,
Being loved is God’s and our life’s apogee,
This by creeds and by prayer we are taught.
So we look in our humanity to find
Ourselves in the Lord’s great matter entwined.
- 2 Corinthians 13:11-13
- Matthew 28:16-20
Behold, the blemished Lamb of God, and scarred
with unhealed woundings of the nails and spear,
Thomas seeks to know what it was that marred
pure God to now mutilated appear.
Thomas had seen his rising power before,
No question that God could raise the son of Nain,
But why upend complete Prophets and Law
and accept a sacrifice of bloody stain?
And then he saw altar priests cutting throats
and the violent contest of sacred police,
then the deep purpose of the Bible’s quotes:
to bring violence to an end with world’s peace.
The end of religion flashed before Thomas:
in faith and love alone the godly promise.
- John 20:24-31
- Luke 7:11-17
NBC News photo
There’s a special moment just before night
when grey turns brown, and ginger’s tinged red,
Forms appear like smoke against the twilight,
a side-on glimpse makes you turn your head.
In glory risen, Christ’s evanescing web,
Our sightings tangential, our love inept,
His presence felt at muted tides’ low ebb;
The Emmaus blessing gently breathed as stepped.
The bread is broken, space between fingers,
The almost presence vanishes to nil,
What cannot be. Possibility lingers…
The endless love of the universe to fill.
Light wrapped in fire and fire in rising light,
So delicately from the tomb alight.
À la brunante (Twilight), André Perrault (Galerie Guylaine Fournier, Québec, Canada)
The cloth which yesterday so reverently kept
our Lord’s head, is today lying by itself;
the shroud appears like the bed where he has slept,
pillow face cloth arranged on the rock shelf.
The tomb is ordered, the Paschal setting
is not a wild off-planet getaway:
the presence who has folded the netting
has artfully followed the Passion Play.
Easter’s presence/absence on limestone set
covered in the linen weave of white cloth,
powerful mystery in quietest calm yet:
Life bursts from silent Yahweh Sabaoth.
The folded cloth, the ordered tomb resound.
The living Jesus in measured singing found.
Image: Yale University (Brahms: Capriccio)
They’re rolling bodies from the soiled airplane,
they’ll hose the cargo hold when all are gone.
Did they cry ‘Our Father’ before were slain
not by the sea but by all who looked on?
Truth: so hard to hear that we dismiss it.
With Pontius, hands are washed in hypocrisy.
Not us, in crimes in our name complicit,
We choose systemic evil not to see.
We leave to Jesus burden of the cost,
to carry the pain, to accept the blame.
We roll him out and dump him with the lost:
For this he was born, and for this he came.
Look on, he becomes our mocking mass song.
Onlookers, felons – we compose the throng.
- Lamentations 3:63
- John 18:37
- Ted Witham, Good Friday 2017
Sonnet for Palm Sunday
Hey, Donny, why did you hit sayyeed Assad?
It’s true, he did a smelly piss in his sand;
but now you’ve deployed your savage trump card,
do you think he will just do what you demand?
You hit him and why will he be gentle?
You hit him and he may stop and reflect;
Then plan renewed violence incremental,
And let his vengeful anger flow unchecked.
In one brutal act of reciprocation,
He will throw all his foul power against you and yours,
Only one possible direction – escalation,
Settling in one blow years of niggling scores.
Lord, your people with their targeting hate,
what can we work out before it’s too late?
Anti-war March, Melbourne, 1970. Image: Australian War Museum