Were You There?




Our Witness

Were you there when they crucified the Lord?
Some say we all were,
There where the choice
Was turn toward the cross or turn away.
And for those near that cross, a second choice:
condone death
Or grieve the Life’s fading breath.

The vileness and violence
of our humanness,
Oh, that was clear,
plainly there,
There for all to see, taste, and hear,
There cemented in the tears and tears of history.

The vileness and violence
that was there, that took him,
He met it with love, grace, forgiveness.
He planted eternity’s seeds
despite the strange fruit from that tree.
Those seeds give way to the tree of life now,
Rising tall at the center of Eden restored,
Reconciling all to an actualized hope.

The Beloved Disciple’s Witness

I was there when they crucified him,
Yeshua, my Rabboni,
The one moved by compassion,
my way, truth, and life.
I was there, and
The trauma and terror of it all
Pushed me past the edge.

I loved him so much.
How I wanted to bear some of his pain,
But I could only watch, cry, and wail out why.

His cross to bear was the loneliest one.

Even Yahweh, as he wept the words,
seemed to forsaken him, left him to die
alone, hung on a cross, out to dry on a dusky hill.

Yes, I was there.
The scene nightmares my dreams,
Disturbing the little sleep I’m able to get.
The torturous hours,
His tormented face dripping blood, sweat, tears.
I wake screaming, drenched in sweat and tears.
No blood except his in my memory.
Sadness, rage, confusion, doubt – 
they all greet this sunless Saturday dawn.

I was there and I loved him.
I couldn’t turn away though how I wanted to.
He needed me there. His mother needed me too.

I now witness here to his life,
To his love that knows no bounds.
He laid down that life for me,
for his friends, for his foes,
For those who fled and turned away,
even for the one whose betrayal cut first.
They all stand forgiven. His father-aimed plea took.

Mary Magdalene's Witness

I was there
Among the group of women gathered near,
Mary his mother included.
Inconsolable in turns, we wailed psalms of lament.
I still weep in the painful truth.

How beautiful his heart was,
How powerful his wisdom, his compassion,
His love of the people, especially the poor,
How peace-loving and peacefully he lived.
How he healed and helped so many.
How he gave hope and heaven to all.
How he inspired us to trust
A better world was on its way,
That a better way was before us,
The impoverished ones, the broken ones,
The discarded ones, the outcasted ones,
The lost, the last, the least ones.

As one among them, I loved him.
He made me, a nobody, feel vital,
Powerful, heard.
He made sure we sat up front, be in front,
Engaging our minds, our questions, our thoughts,
Our dreams, ambitions, aspirations, our hearts,
Teaching us to lead like shepherdesses,
Care like mothers, grandmothers, aunts, sisters,
Declare the good news like learned rabbis,
Teach others like his mother so wisely taught him.

How he was hated for this,
despised by the rich, religious, and self-righteous,
those enjoying throwing their weight and might around
like stones at shamed sinners.

He loved us as we were,
and loved what we hoped to be.

And we loved him. I loved him,
My teacher, light, and guide.

My God, why?
Why were they so primed to deal death?
Why kill the most innocent among us?
Why murder one so childlike and clever and compassionate?
Why waste the purest heart and tenderest eyes?

Such depravity I can’t understand.
Such evil I will never, ever fathom.


Roman Centurion’s Witness

I was there
With a job to do.
These three were convicted as criminals,
Deemed unworthy to live,
only worthy for the cross
As for me, I’m paid to follow orders.

But the man in the middle that day,
He seemed different than the others, that I will say.
Silent and sincere and solemn amid his pain.

His people – I’ve never heard such a cacophony of grief.
Women, all of them,
All inconsolable.

Stricken with fear and sorrow, tormented,
as tremulous with tears as
the man’s own mother.
A man so loved,
So accompanied amid his grief,
It makes me wonder why he’s here.

Yet the crowd cheers on his violent departure,
Content to see him fade into the infamy they’ve assured,
Thrilled with crucifixion, a means for their entertainment.
It seems the way of Rome has captured them.

But then,
But then those words sounding from his lips,
They seemed to echo straight away.
They seemed to still all other sounds.
The words’ profound weight paused the noise.

“Father forgive them… They don’t know what they do.”

The surge of energy he conjured to say those words,
I’m not sure where he got it from.

His words and voice crystal clear
Flowed down as if from the hills
or the heavens or the depths.
All gathered there heard those words. I heard it.

Then, the deafening silence in the wake of his prayer.
It hurt my heart, a heart hardened by the rage of war.
That prayer affected something in me, I must submit.
It saddened and shook me.

Forgiveness and mercy amid such savagery,
I still cannot comprehend.
There’s something pure and perfect there,
Something pure and perfect about him.
Only God’s son could show such strength and grace.

This is what I’ve surmised to be true, anyway.

Mother Mary’s Witness

I was there.
I’ve always been there.
When your child suffers,
he is the only child in the world,
an only child even when siblings abound.
A mother remains with an only child in pain.
A mother feels that same pain and more.
They crucified me with him without a drop of blood spilled.

I was there.
I’ve always been there with him.
From the improvised crib in that domesticated cave
Somewhere in Bethlehem,
To this wretched cross
On a hill outside Jerusalem,
I’ve been there.

I detest these crosses
And the evil powers that use them,
These instruments of punishment
For public consumption
created to torture God’s image,
a mother’s child, my child.

Those moments shattered me,
One moment after another.
ripping my heart away.
I wanted to die with him.
I howled as hard as I did when I bore him,
When I birthed him into this God forsaken place.

I was there,
Begging for mercy, for grace, for this to be over,
Begging for God to cancel this relentless hell,
Begging for an eastern wind to break that cross in two
And send the vileness and violence away, far, far away.
Begging for life here, not death now.

And I was there at the tomb when it was finished.
I wrapped his breathless body in linen and spice
In between groans of grief and the tears.
I wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in the tomb.

I stay and wait for Gabriel to return and give me back my divine hope.

 “…still your tears,

For remember the soul of the universe
Willed a world and it appeared.’”

The Word’s Witness
In the beginning was the Word… and the Word was God.

I was there and why all were there at the cross.
I was in the tomb as well,
But I was not there nor as a body in the earthly realm for long.

The Spirit of my way, truth, and life,
She like the wind swirls in the world,
Stilling the seas that seek her.
The Spirit, as the Truth of Love,
moves in the love of a mother,
Of a father, of caregivers, in loving acts,
In the love of a neighbor, the love of a stranger,
All giving witness to this eternal gospel:

Love never ends.

Love cannot be disappeared.
The Love of Christ remains,
rising with us, rising in the moon, stars, and sun,
rising with the tides and with our breath,
in the newly opened eyes of every child.
Rising in the dusty landscape of Judea
All those years ago, and again and again,
And walking now where you live,
Each and every step.


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