with the sweating, jeering crowd, Mary,
after the long, stumbling walk from town,
dust scratching your thoat, exhaustion turning in upon itself,
and a blood-red ache throbbing in your chest.
But you are there, as a hush falls over the crowd.
Ominous. Deep. A stifled sob escapes from a woman near you,
as iron beats against iron and His hands are nailed, nailed, nailed.
Up now! Hoist high! His cross becomes a raw scar, cut against the sky.
No returning now, Mary. What you have given is broken, scourged, and spiked to a beam.
And though you may hold a silent scream behind the beating of your heart,
you do not turn away. You stand there, a silence hidden among the shouts, a prayer, a balm to heal the kiss of Judas on His cheek.
Your eyes meet His, and all the dwindling years pass between you in that glance:
a baby's spread fingers exploring your face;
a small boy's laughter sounding in the summer sun;
sturdy shelves and tables fashioned for you by His calloused hands;
His clear strong voice leading the family in prayer at Passover time;
the goodbyes, the tears, the glad returnings;
all gather to a point for you to hold one last time.
A strong arm tightens around your shoulders now.
It is John, your Son's beloved friend.
In labored syllables, Jesus speaks,
With what rush of love you must have accepted that unexpected gift,
Some say they placed Him in your arms when they finally took Him down.
I can see you gently untwisting the thorns from His tangled hair, covering His wounded side with your garment, and rocking Him back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. But He is dead, Mary. Dead.
Oh! Dead that I might live!
Precious Lord, I am so unworthy of Your sacrifice! But seeing You die as Your mother did, has made me love You more than ever before.
Could it be that's all You ask of me this day?