Stations of The Cross 2010

Jesus Is Placed in The Tomb


There is no narrower place than a tomb,
no place to go, no room to grow;
bones and a shadow.
Tidy but unfinished, the miserable cargo
is stowed in the unforgiving maw,
the fearsome hold,
eternal cold.
The wounds are dressed,
the eyes are closed,
the linen masks the mess,
giving the appearance of normality, of wholesomeness.
The prayers are hurried but the grief is long,
a frightened farewell,
and a sad song.
The bond of ritual breaks
and the air grows desperate:
"Where shall we go?
Where shall we go now?
What shall we do?
It grows late!
He has gone; and the world moves on.
Even mourners eat.
Those who fled, how will they be?
Can they be comforted with bread?
It is not ours to judge, to rebuke,
to say something to them he never would have said.
We have performed in the office of women,
watching, wailing and remembering.
We have performed in the office of a woman,
mending, soothing and recovering,
making the best of things,
covering up the cracks with a clean display."
They close the gate
and hurry down the darkening street,
with angels, newly landed,
listening to their echoing feet.
Soldiers on night watches rarely bother to do more
than file a report which says nothing happened
which, as the angels, in all respects, keep their distance,
is properly accurate.
The soldiers sleep,
the angels wait,
no foot comes near the tiny gate.


O necessary resting place,
this cool, hospitable tomb,
receive my bones as earth disposes,
sweet with the balm of marginally guilty affection.
Make good the broken,
enshroud the head,
ensure the tidiness peculiar to the dead,
so fraught while living.
Welcome me to my temporary home,
a concentrated space
which, if they stopped to remember, would focus their wild longings,
gathering their despair into a place for prayer.
It was never a case of earthly disappearance
nor the spectacular departure of Elijah:
there always was a time and a tomb;
three days of waiting before the fulfillment of the promise.
And then there was the 'game' of time over Lazarus.
Surely they could have made something of it.
You might say that I was unnecessarily enigmatic,
impossible to de-code;
but I hardly knew myself;
I hardly knew my self.
All is now gathered of The Word Made Flesh,
signs and discourses,
smiles and disputes, into this tiny space.
The hands that washed their feet,
that broke their bread,
that blessed with palms upon their head,
are still;
the heart that beat for them,
with pain so sharp and sweet,
that fluttered when they fell,
that welcomed like a well,
has ceased its generous beat;
the ears that heard sweet music and sharp taunts,
the prayer and the imprecation,
are released;
the eyes that saw the beauty of the Father's earth,
its human tarnish and its human worth,
are closed.
All incarnational resources are transposed
from that unequalled flesh into eternal grace.
O necessary resting place.