The cloak

In the grey dawn

They surged through the gates,

Eager

For the Passover treat,

The annual redemption

Of a chosen one

By their appointed lord.

 

Tired Pilate,

His shoulders bowed,

Wearied, weighed

By justice

And conscience,

The chief priests

Puffed out with righteousness

Like challenged cockerels,

And between them

The still figure

Of the preacher,

Calm, accepting,

Modest

Amid the grandeur

In his shabby robe.

 

They called him King,

King of the Jews,

Passed his condemnation

Back and forward

Like an unwanted card,

Until planted men,

Priests’ friends,

Scribes’ cousins,

Pliable hangers on,

Coaxed the crowd

To bloodlust.

 

They howled

“Crucify him!”

Baying this blameless man

To traitor’s agony,

Their prize

Redemption and liberty

For blood-soaked rebel Barabbas.

 

The Romans took him,

Flogged him

Just enough for blood,

Little enough for cross-bearing.

From some dusty chest

Soldiers pulled an old cloak,

Tyrian-dyed,

Forced

Crown and sceptre

Of thorn and reed

Upon him,

Spat, mocked,

Knelt

In this king’s

One earthly homage.

 

Dripping blood

He stepped out

In his imperial purple

Into the morning sun.

The worn cloak,

Given new life

By light,

Shone amethyst

About this battered king,

Transfigured in the dawn.

 

SIA 8-9 iv 2014

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Light and dark

In the dark waters, unseen …….
mud from the river bed smears the eyes … silt of the earth, brown, gritty and grey.

She is hidden, submerged, ready to be born, ready but maybe not prepared for some explosion of revelation.

Surfacing … emerging ….

image

In the light of early morning there is blinding intensity, colour … eyes shaded to cope with shafting light of sunbeams, arrow straight … all the colours of white light, split into a never-ending spectrum ….. bursting sparkling eddies or turbulent cataract. Salmon leap and sparkle, striving for calmer waters ….. down again to the safety of soft, shadowy grey.

Sight is blinding.

Sight is wonderful

But sometimes the eyes close and contemplate the moving images of dreams …..
….. under the light …. in the darkness where hope is constant and waiting is a patient thing.

Is she ready for this light, this blinding?

Perhaps light is a truly fearsome thing.

…and the darkness did not overcome the Light

Image

Jesus’ trial happened at night. The murky darkness is illuminated by a candle; and, more than ever, by the presence of the still figure.  He is the source of light – when the candle has burnt out, his light will remain. His stillness dominates: without words he overcomes the High Priest and his pointing finger…  I look at his hands     crossed;     at his face         marvel at the serenity.
‘Goodness is stronger than evil; Love is stronger than hate; Light is stronger than darkness; Life is stronger than death; Victory is ours through Him who loves us’   – Desmond Tutu

“In this conflict with conventional religion, Jesus’ silence ought to give all religious people pause for thought about our confident judgements of right and wrong. It is so easy to misuse scripture, as is shown in this picture in which confident judgement is made by an open book.” (Rowan Williams)

finding a focus

I have walked in the desert – physically in Qatar, and spiritually. The chief loneliness of both deserts has been to see so large, unending a landscape, without meaningful markers, without boundaries: literally as large as life, for there appears no other.

To sit down (actually or metaphorically) and despair, is to be show something unexpected, and real. The endlessness is made up of grains of reality: tiny particles, each piled on another to create an entire landscape. There is no real ‘nothingness’ – and that understanding begins to change the perception of loss and emptiness.

It is a slow emergence of the sense of interest that sharpens all senses: here is the returning colour, here is the shape of something outlined by light, here is a tiny sign of life…

finding His face

The different faces of Jesus – how many faces shall we feel driven to discover during this Lent? Shall we hold tightly to the comfortable, familiar, laughing Jesus – the one who celebrated at Canaa’s wedding feast, who slept peacefully in the company of his friends sailing across the Galilean sea, who was called a glutton by those scandalised that he would choose to eat and drink with ‘sinners’…. or seek and explore another face of Jesus, companion of the lost and those society had cast aside.  He was no desert ascetic like his cousin John the Baptizer, his choice was not locusts and animal skins, but the good food and company of others.
Yet we may never doubt that he was tempted: those temptations to trade his ministry for the easy popularity of a public speaker; or to heed Peter’s demands that he should pass up the cup of his coming sacrifice: the ultimate temptation even to doubt God, as he hung in torment on the cross.
Tempted – but not sinning.
As we struggle – as we must – with doubts, and find more darkness than light, we can remember that Jesus kept faith – even in the lonely chaos of his temptation – holding the image of God, the understanding of presence, even in the long slow agony of death: crying out to the One who could never desert him.