Good Friday Meditation
by Lois Donahue
It’s over now – the crucifying – and there’s little left to do – but wait. Wait helplessly for death. Here on the hill – outside the city’s walls. Here, where the sky grows dark and the wind grows angry. Here, where people shuffle nervously or stand in statued silence. Fewer of them now – the crowd has thinned. Some soldiers still – two, maybe three gathering up to leave once they’ve taken down the lifeless body – duty done – orders followed. And other men – observers – scattered here and there – standing, staring – expressionless, so commonplace this brand of cross-beam justice.
Others, not so sure – frowns – unspoken questioning seen deep in their eyes. Wondering? Waiting – more, perhaps, for miracle than death. And, then, of course, the women – clustered, wordless, some holding babies-and tears – so many tears. Here, too, in striking contrast are the children – crowd followers – inquisitive. So full of life – up here so close to death.
Too close perhaps – and they begin to leave – except for one – see there – the scrawny boy with dirty feet – who stands – head back, looking up to see the dying man to whom he speaks in whispered tones – Shhh – listen
My father knew you, Jesus
When you were little boys
You were friends, he said, in Naz’reth
And shared each other’s toys.
He told me how you climbed the trees
Kicked sandals off to wade
Stacked wood-blocks in your father’s shop
Ate pomegranates in the shade.
He said that you were different
In some very special way
I think I know just what he meant
After watching you today.
You fell three times – got up again
As only strong men can
Yet when you met those women
You were such a ‘gentle’ man.
You didn’t curse or swear or shout
To say you’d done no wrong
You knew that they would kill you
Yet you quietly trudged along.
One time when you came really close
I saw your skin all torn
The dried-up blood and matted hair
That stuck to every thorn.
I saw the blood run down your leg
And roll off in the dirt
I shivered just imagining
How much you must have hurt.
And when that lady wiped your feet
It made me feel real bad
‘cause my Dad said you laughed a lot
— today you looked so sad.
And when you met your mother
I watched her as she cried
That’s just the way my mother looked
The day my father died.
I just don’t understand all this
It’s scary – yet it’s odd
Because I get the feeling
That somewhere close — is God.
I would have run away I guess
But something made me stay
I’m glad – because without a word
You spoke to me today.
You said, “We’ll be in heaven”
To that thief up there with you
Your eyes looked down and ‘said’ to me
“Your Dad will be there too.”
And, Jesus, I just know he will
‘cause in your eyes I see
A loving friend who’d never lie —
Please, be a friend to me.
He’s leaving now and we can see his face — young in years but already signed with living — a single, final tear rolls down his cheek but the corners of his mouth are slightly curved in smile — a confident smile that says “I have a friend”.