Descending Theology: The Garden
by Mary Karr
We know he was a man because, once doomed,
he begged for reprieve. See him
grieving on his rock under olive trees,
his companions asleep
on the hard ground around him
wrapped in old hides.
Not one stayed awake as he’d asked.
That went through him like a sword.
He wished with all his being to stay
but gave up
bargaining at the sky. He knew
it was all mercy anyhow,
unearned as breath. The Father couldn’t intervene,
though that gaze was never
not rapt, a mantle around him. This
was our doing, our death.
The dark prince had poured the vial of poison
into the betrayer’s ear,
and it was done. Around the oasis where Jesus wept,
the cracked earth radiated out for miles.
In the green center, Jesus prayed for the pardon
of Judas, who was approaching
with soldiers, glancing up–as Christ was–into
the punctured sky till his neck bones
ached. Here is his tear-riven face come
to press a kiss on his brother.
Untitled (An ancient Celtic prayer for sleep)
O Jesu without sin,
King of the poor,
Who were sorely subdued
Under the ban of the wicked,
Shield Thou me this night
My soul on Thine own arm, O Christ,
Thou the King of the City of Heaven,
Thou it was who bought’st my soul O Jesu,
Thou it was who didst sacrifice Thy life for me.
Protect Thou me because of my sorrow,
For the sake of Thy passion, Thy wounds, and Thy blood,
And take me in safety to-night
Near to the City of God.
From The Celtic Way of Prayer by Esther de Waal, Doubleday, 1997.