Stations of The Cross 2010

Simon of Cyrene Is Forced to Carry The Cross of Jesus


Lynch him!
Dog, you will find our sticks persuasive,
our swords flashingly eloquent.
See this other dog!
Bring him to his place of death.
Fierce and resentful, he turns where they cannot see
to the source of his humiliation;
then his face softens.
What does he see in me?
A torn traitor?
A lashed liar?
A scourged scoundrel?
He  sharply calculates the aggression over his left shoulder.
"You are that sweet Jesus that rode on the ass,
that unlocked the law,
that gave hope to the poor.
I heard the story from Decapolis
of a woman who out-witted you on behalf of all of us.
We have eaten the crumbs from under your table
but now I am carrying it in a strange reversal of fortune.
If I bear this weight from this rubbish-choked brook
to that place up there where the poles rise stark,
then I, not the Jews, will have carried the wood of the Cross
and the table of your sacrifice."
I think I follow and smile encouragement.
"Come now, sweet Lord;
pretend to take the weight.
As a seller of spices I am not too strong:
one pace for the suffering;
one pace for the poor;
a third for the widows;
a fourth for the weak;
a fifth for the cowards;
a sixth for the meek;
a hill for the helpless;
a climb for the stricken;
a journey for the feckless;
a destination for the broken.
Come on, my sweet Jewish foreigner."  


All the world
arrives to view my Passion,
no longer a Jewish internal affair
but an act of global, eternal destiny. They have seized a man,
they say of Cyrene,
black as Moses' Ethiopian wife
and, without knowing, they weave him into my life.
As I stand and wait for them to agree the new arrangements,
I think of Isaiah and how my story is like his story,
except that he could not have imagined a gentile carrying this cross;
we have reached, in words he would not have said,
a tumultuous watershed.
Simon carries the cross for world history
that will bring countless to love my Father,
brought through me.
I let him lift the dead wood in my stead,
just for a moment bearing all the weight,
to symbolise the world as it will be.
He sings a counting song,
leggier in metre than the curt-cropped Psalter,
richer than the clean-limbed counting
as the nets came in,
smoother than ever the wheel turned as the rope strained,
full of strange sadness,
long notes thrown upwards,
then slowly curving downwards to the earth.
He looks over his right shoulder,
then takes my hand:
"It's not what I would have chosen
but, pardon the imposition,
it is staking a kind of claim."
Feebly, I squeeze my affirmation.
As the pulse ebbs,
as the blood disarrays,
he is the whole world now, grown small,
to share my Passion.