Lent: Man of Sorrows 6

And keep –
    keep me, keep watch, keep hope.
The pains that crush me are like pricks beside
Your agony, and yet
          You hold
arms out as though to gather in
more pain, more shame, and thus
           more me.
Man of sorrows,
        what a name,
        what a scheme
  that stretches out the heavens
  yet does not scorn these nails.
my proud sobbing, my heart’s throbbing; take
all my attempts to rise with Self.
Enfold me in Your scars and sing
      Your grace
    through endless days.

Lent 45: Good Friday

The Darkness at the Crucifixion - Gustave Doré en.wikipedia.org
The Darkness at the Crucifixion – Gustave Doré

They took him down to Golgotha,

to Golgotha, the place of skulls;

they set him in between two thieves

and hurled disease on him.


They struck his face and speared his side

at Golgotha, at Golgotha;

they called him king and laughed at him

and cursed him on the tree.


The earth, it shook at Golgotha,

at Golgotha, the place of skulls;

the dead arose, the sky was dead

and soldiers stared at him.


They said he was the Son of God,

at Golgotha, at Golgotha;

he bled and died at Golgotha,

accursed, upon a tree.

Lent 39: Saturday of Fifth Week

Sit with Him; eat with Him;

dip the bread, by His side –

Surely Lord not I?


Walk with Him through olive trees;

fall asleep and fail to pray;

watch as one of you betrays –

Surely Lord not I?


Warm yourself by cosy fires;

answer truth with spitting lies;

listen as the cock crows; Thrice

you will deny me. Adamant:

Surely Lord not I?


Watch as thorns are made His crown;

see the dice cast for His clothes;

see them spit and mock and dance;

see them cast their king aside;

Surely Lord, surely Lord,

surely Lord, not I?


See Him breathe with aching breath;

see Him lift Himself and gasp;

see Him turn His gaze to sky;

see Him ask in agony:

Forgive them, Father, they know not

what they do. See; watch and weep:

Surely Lord, surely Lord,

surely, Lord, not I?


See Him cast death, weak, aside;

see Him take on life and rise.

See Him lift the cursed ones too

and take them through His life and death;

see Him give His death to them

and give His life and give His pain

and give His life to live again.

Surely Lord, surely Lord,

surely, Lord, not I?

Lent 38: Friday of Fifth Week


see the woman with her oil and hair;
see His feet (they’re not yet scarred);
see the gasp upon your face;
see His searching eyes.

He spoke to you of the Son of Man;
He spoke of death and burial;
He spoke of Passover, exodus;
He spoke; you did not hear.

He stands to tell you all the truth;
He stands beside the lavish act;
He stands against what we expect;
He stands soon in our place.

Lent 12: Second Sunday of Lent

Do the hills bring comfort?

Soon He will ascend His penultimate hill,

crown on brow, chest weighed down,

wrath upon His soul.


From where will come His aid?

He leaves the tabernacle, the comfort

of union, the certainty of feet

which cannot stumble.


I lift up mine eyes…

The glorious handiwork of hands soon scarred

stretch into horizon, the resting stool

of feet bent upon a cross…

“Were you there…?” – Streaming Page CXVI Day Three

Were you there when they crucified my Lord? None of us today can answer “yes”. Yet the truth and power of that moment is never diminished, how much time stretches between us and it.

Today’s track from Page CXVI’s “Lent to Maundy Thursday” combines two old hymns: “Were You There?” and “O The Deep, Deep Love of Jesus”. May it help us keep preparing our hearts for the truth of Easter.

Friday Before Lent
    I was not there;
my heart cannot prepare
for sights like these:
the way Love trembles on its throne,
and mercy sweats blood.

    I was not there,
and in my absence there is guilt:
the nonchalance of one who sits
a safer distance from the fright;
yet Love knows I would have been
as blood-thirsty as the rest.

    I was not there, 
yet Love draws further
than the bounds of space and time,
into my desperate present where
the love of Jesus lives.

    I was not there;
my soul cannot prepare
itself for what it finds:
mercy thick with knowledge, rich
in wisdom before time, grounded, deep
into each present cry.


Yesterday I posted my own poem written in response to Peter Steele’s heartbreaking “Crux”. Here, as an additional kind of tribute to my old teacher, is a musical setting of the poem that I wrote and recorded. Steele’s words, from his liturgical sequence, “A Season in Retreat”, are included below for you to read as you listen.

Crux (From Peter Steele, “A Season in Retreat”, Marching on Paradise, 1984)
                        Seeing you go
Where the dead are bound, and having no resource
To twist those timbers out of their lethal course,
            I want at least to know

                        What I can say
Now that the boasts have blown away and even
The cursing has grown faint, while the pall of heaven
            Abolishes the day.

                        I was never wise
In word or silence, never understood
The killer in my members, thought of good
            As what one might devise

                        From scraps of evil.
How can I learn a way for me or mine
To stand beside you? Vinegar, not wine,
            Is all we give you still.

                        Among the dice
And the dirt, with more of shame than love to show,
All that will come to heart is ‘Do not go
            Alone to Paradise.’

What He Meant (After Peter Steele’s “Crux”)

The third poem written in response to Peter Steele comes from his very moving work, “Crux”, possibly one of his best poems. You can read the original poem here. Like Steele’s poem, mine is written from the perspective of one of Jesus’ followers immediately after His death, and ponders how Jesus’ words may have seemed at that moment.

What He Meant (After "Crux")

                 Where you must go,
     We cannot follow, of course. That is clear,
The look of complete Elsewhere on your face, the sheer
         Desolation of the show

                 Says it all. You said
      As much quite clearly as we dipped herbs and fought
Amongst ourselves, with questions of greatness, retorts
           Against your broken grace.

                 Sponges dipped in wine
      Recall the bread, the cup, and yet the scene,
So far removed from upper rooms, the shattered screen
           Fractures every line

                  We drew in shifting sand.
       Arms ripped out to the side, you know it all.
Your crown, your spear, your heraldry, the scrawl
           Above your throne

                 Hailing you king –
       Such truth, shrouded in irony – demands we wait,
Until the veil’s finally gone. Sentries at the gate,
           The mourners sing.