Seven last words (3)

The Crucifixion by Fr. John W. Lynch, continued  (You can read the first part here and the second part here.)

Thereafter time on Him became a slow,
Eventless draining and His body sagged
And ebbed and whitened in the drip of long,
Increasing silences that breathed and soaked
And mingled on His limbs until the flow
Pulled down from Him all semblance to a Man,
To make Him but a Wound that hung from nails.

He does not move nor murmur to the dark,
And now is gone beyond His hand had strained
Against the stake, and helpless, tried to brush
The dried ad stiffened cavern of His mouth,
He whispered, and they heard His human need.

‘I thirst.

A sponge upon a reed was thrust to Him,
And He who gave good wine had tasted sharp,
Astringent vinegars that were the last
Of favours that the earth could give to Him.
He wakened: He was tall again and taut
Against the throning of His cross; His head
Was crowned, and on Him majesty returned.
He drank the air and as a Man who sees
Far kingdoms over continents beyond
The sun, He traces with His eyes the dim
Receding circles of the world.  He feels
The freedom of His hands, the swing, the lope
And striding of His feet; He feels His heart
Within Him beating to the endless stroke
Of Infinite, and swelling to subdue
The vast dimensions of forgotten time.
He stand, He towers, He is Adam come
Again to the ancient garden: He is man
And woman, He is Paul and Magdalen
The martyrs, housewives, sinners, and the saints.

And then His love is falling on the hills,
The roads, the little sea that had been dear.
He touches to the mountains where He spoke
His prayer, and He remembers Bread.  His hands
Enclose again the smiling of a child.
They test the tumult of the fish in the nets.
He hears the echoed word He said to John
And to Martha: Peter keeps command against
The years.  The cot and table that He knew
At Nazareth are not afar from Him.
And He remembers Joseph and the straw:

Then breath is great within Him.  He is tall
And upward from His cross His voice ascends
To break confining spaces of the stars
And thrust His triumph past the stars.

It is finished!’

His head is sinking: peace is on His brow.

‘Father, into Thy hands I commend my spirit.’

This sterile wood He carried to the hill
Has burgeoned with His meaning, and the Tree
Of good and evil, standing in all storm
And contradiction, waits the endless Spring.

The seven last words (2)

The Crucifixion by Fr. John W. Lynch continued . . .

The light is bronze against Him in a sheet
Of stilled, unblinking time that does not move,
Nor yield, nor cease until a shimmering
Like golden curtains comes, and looking down,
He finds that time has folded to a a long,
Bright, gleaming coronal, and she is there.
He does not look away, He watches her,
And the light that was a crown about her, breaks,
Increases, brightens, and becomes a path
Where she is mounting, mounting up to Him,
Not for comfort, not for any kiss
Of soothing, not to lessen Him nor ask
His hands refuse these nails for Infancy:
Not soften, not unloose the years!
He seeks her here and in her heart He finds
Too deep a silence for the need of tears,
For new Announcement bleeds in her, so old
It is Gethsemani, and Nazareth,
Fused and sealed within a single will
That still is crying: ‘This be done to me.’

Woman, behold thy Son.

The dark was like a thin, descending shroud
Of cold that closed around the world and left
Him shivering beneath an ashen sun.
The wind was chill upon Him, stirred His hair
In faint and lonely movement, and the dust
That lay along the barren rocks had raised
And sifted softly when the wind had gone.
He was alone: and in His hands the nails
Were cinders of a fire once and flamed
And reddened in His blood, but now had dulled
To crusting of a spread, accustomed pain,
Without a plan.  He ha wearied of His crown;
His head that had bowed upon His breast
Tossed upward in search of any friend,
To find around Him blackness and the deep,
Unstarred abysses where creation’s Word
Has hung no light or mercy to the blank
Rejections of a worse than primal dark,
The wind that knifed across His shivered soul
Came cutting from the frozen lids of Hell . . .

‘My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?’

The seven last words (1)

This time of year I go searching.  Searching for poetry and art.  I think that’s because of the high holy mysteries we are entering into.  Nothing else can attempt to express the depth and richness of these holy matters.  So for the next few days I will give you pieces of a poem I found somewhere by Fr. John W. Lynch–I believe the same who wrote the magnificent A Woman Wrapped in Silence.  I give it to you in pieces because it’s worth savoring bits at a time.  The seven last words.

The Crucifixion

He is alive with pain: His body lifts
and turns and quivers as the lightning streaks
Again, and iron thunder cracks and breaks
And shatters in the dark beneath His blood;
Until the tremors in His flesh are stopped,
And breathing, He discovers He is vised.
His body forms a frame to hold a frame;
He is a Man made once with blunted beams! . . .
Their voices rise to Him from distant pits.
They are like echoes of an ended world
He once had known where men with hands and feet
Could move among contentions and be brave
With gesture.  He could hear them, feel their stride
And strut along the ground, receive their scorn,
Their laughter, know that they were tall and bold
And beckoning to Him that He come down,
Come down and be a Man again in whole,
Unfastened body that will need a robe
And pathway to the pardons of the world.

‘Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.’

The blood swelled sickly in His mouth, and breath
Was ended, and His heart was all he heard.
Somewhere, as a bird might sing to Him,
Above Him, level to His hair, so near
He need not search, nor move, nor seek for space
Of quiet in the sounding of His blood,
He hears a voice that begs last royal gift
Of brief remembering. He cannot see,
And wrenching now athwart the rigid wood,
His head uplifted, pulling at the nails,
He cannot reach last moment of relief
That He may bring to eyes that seek His own.
They are two faces in the sun, so fixed
Against the posts that they must stare outward only,
Separate, and must declare their loves
In quick companionship of lonely words.

‘This day thou shalt be with me in Paradise.’