Holy Week Triptych

A stark cross against a starry night sky

This trio of poems in multiple voices imagines the journey of Jesus’ followers, from the gates of the city to the empty tomb.

At the Gate

He came in on a donkey,
But we greeted him as a King.

The crowd was huge that day.
As though all of Jerusalem’s poor, tired, downtrodden
had flooded into the streets.

Had risen up from the streets, where we lay.
Had risen up waving palms.
Had put down our only coat to shield him from the mud.

We had heard about him, you see.
His miracles of healing. His acts of love.

We heard how he had touched the lepers, eaten with the poor.
Turned over the tables in the temple.

We knew he had come to preach peace and justice.
We thought he had come to save us.

Can you imagine a hope like that?
You are desperate, you are starving, you are praying for relief.
And here he comes.

Here he comes, and he is everything.
He is loving and kind.
He is righteous and angry.
He is humble and powerful.

And he cares.
About us…
The outcast, the prisoner, the lowest of the low.

Can you imagine a hope like that?

At the Cross

No. This cannot be.
The man who came in like a king, our hero.
Trudging forward like a common thief.

Spat upon. Insulted. Betrayed.
He carried our hopes, our dreams, our need.
And now he carries a cross.

Bruised, bloodied, weak.
How could he be beaten?
How could he fail us?

How could we fail him?
Standing by, helpless.
Or urging them on.

No, it cannot be.
We are not to blame!
We are too powerless. Too small.

We watched them mock our hope.
With a crown of thorns.
And then they brought out the nails.

That is when I turned away.
I couldn’t watch. But I could hear.
“Father forgive them,” he said as he died.

That was what broke me.
“Father forgive them” with his last breath.
Father, forgive us!

And now he is gone.
The hands that healed us. The ears that heard us.
The heart that beat for us.

He is gone.
He gave us hope. He gave us purpose.
He loved us. And He is gone.

At the Tomb

Weeping may last for a night.
Weeping may last for a thousand nights.
But joy comes in the morning.

That morning we went to our beloved teacher’s tomb.
We went to anoint his body.
We carried oil and cloths.

We came to the tomb in sorrow, heads bowed low.
But hope does not die so easily.
It flickers inside, buried somewhere deep.

Hope grows, blossoms like a rose
even through stone,
even in hearts frozen by grief.

When we arrived at the place where he lay
We dropped all that we carried, in wonder, in fear,
to see the tomb laid open, and our beloved gone.

Do not weep, said the man.
This morning we rejoice.
Love lives. Hope lives.

Jesus is not here, he said.
Come and see.
He is risen.

Our beloved is risen. Our hope is risen.
Can it be?

Can it be?