From the 8th century Irish monastic poet, Blathma
…The sun concealed its proper light; it lamented its lord. A swift cloud went across the blue sky, the great stormy sea roared.
The whole world became dark, great trembling came on the earth; at the death of noble Jesus great rocks burst open.
Jerusalem suddenly cast up the dead from ancient burial; in the hour in which Jesus suffered death the veil of the temple was rent.
A fierce stream of blood boiled until the bark of the every tree was red; there was blood throughout the world in the tops of every great wood.
It would have been fitting for God’s elements–the fair sea, the blue sky, the earth–to have changed their appearance, lamenting their calamity.
The body of Christ exposed to the spear-thrust demanded harsh lamentation–that they should have mourned more grievously the Man by whom they were created.
From The Celtic Way of Prayer by Esther de Waal, Doubleday, 1997 (154)
Sure we’re trained to his suffering, sure
the nine-inch nails, and so forth.
And the cross raised up invoked
the body’s weight so each wound tore,
and from his abdomen a length of gut
dangled down, longing towards earth.
He was a god, after all.
An eternal light swarmed in his rib cage
no less strong than the weaving nebulae that haul
this dirt-speck planet through its course.
Surely his flesh mattered less somehow, less
than yours to you. He hung against steel rods
with his whole being, and though the pain
was very pure, he only cried out once.
All that was writ down. But what if his flesh
felt more than ours, knew each breath
was a gift, and thus saw
beyond each instant into all others.
So a morsel of bread conjured up
the undulating field of wheat from whence it came,
and the farmer’s back muscles
growing specific under this shirt
and the sad, resigned pace of the mule
whose opinion no one sought.
Think of all we don’t see
in an instant. Cage that in one skull.
If Christ saw in each
pair of terrified eyes he met
every creature’s gauzy soul
then he must have looked down from that bare hill
and watched the tapestry teem
till that poor carcass he borrowed
wept tears of real blood before they
unhooked it and oiled it and bound it
round with linen and hid it under a stone,
to rise again or not, I can only hope.
“The promise is not that we shall escape the hard things but that we shall be given grace to face them, to enter into them, and to come through them. The promise is not that we shall not be afraid. It is that we need not fear fear.”
Esther de Waal, Living with Contradiction (116)
A Continuation of the lorica (St. Patrick’s Breastplate prayer)
Christ’s Cross over this face, and thus over my ear. Christ’s Cross over these eyes…this mouth…this throat…the back of this head…this side…to accompany before me…to accompany behind me…Christ’s cross to meet every difficulty both on hollow and on hill…Christ’s Cross over my community. Christ’s Cross over my church. Christ’s Cross in the next world. Christ’s Cross in this world.
From The Celtic Way of Prayer by Esther de Waal (155)
For more from Jan Richardson, find her website here and be sure to visit the Lenten series on her blog.