Explorations, Continued (Part 7)


Brent begins by reminding everyone that Palm Sunday is the beginning of Holy Week, when throngs of people went from fanatically shouting “Hosanna to the Son of David, Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” to “Crucify him, crucify him.”

James Calavera, a newcomer, says Since being betrayed or forsaken is such a common human experience, I’d like to read a poem written by a relative–

Eli, Eli, Lama Sabachthani: My God, My God, Why Have You Forsaken Me?
–Mark 15:34

This is the dead zone,
the Bermuda Triangle of the soul,
where stately ships or dancing dinghies of thought
descend to the depths, never to rise again.
The quandaries are surds squared, heavy enough to sink any mind.
I can understand how evil could take my stuff,
my car be stolen, or my house burn down,
and maybe I could fathom my mate departing,
but could my soul forsake my spirit, could I forsake myself?
Maybe if He had said “Oh God, Oh God,” it would have made more sense.
How can one plumb this depth of forsakenness?
How can God forsake—God?

Yet that cosmic abandonment has a mysterious comfort,
a magnet pulling out pain of all who’ve been forsaken,
as they look at that strange and awesome place where
fallen man spears Love, and kills it, for a while.

So you, Mary and John and all the faithful at the Cross,
who felt your God being pushed away, know you’re not alone.
So you, early apostles, beaten, imprisoned, abandoned by powers and peers,
even killed because of that primal curse, you’re in good company.
So you, modern martyrs in Auschwitz, Sudan or North Korea,
know that you’re part of a chain linking two millennia,
the first link embedded in that hideous hill, “The Place of the Skull.”
So you, elderly widow, existing all alone in your house,
know that the One who was most abandoned feels your pain.
So you, spouse who’s been crushed with the words,
“I no longer love you,” can realize what the Master felt.
And you, Christian brother, back-sliding into self-forsakenness,
and you, child whose father has left, or whose mother’s working overseas,
take the comfort, take the peace, of knowing that all forsakenness
has been felt by Him who had a special claim on “My Father, My God.”
So you can still sing, “Jesus loves me, this I know, For the Bible tells me so.”*

And all who’ve felt Friday’s lashes, nails, or sword, or watched the loved one depart,
who’ve plunged to the depths of sin or despair, may also feel Sunday’s rising from the deep,
feel God embracing God, and all the weeping, yet no longer pitiful,
friends of the forsaken one. –HPK *See Romans 5: 8

Brent says, thank you. Now here’s a poem by Christina Rosetti,

Am I a stone and not a sheep, That I can stand, O Christ, beneath Thy cross,
To number drop by drop Thy blood’s slow loss , And yet not weep?

Not so those women loved , Who with exceeding grief lamented Thee;
Not so fallen Peter weeping bitterly; Not so the thief was moved;

Not so the Sun and Moon, Which hid their faces in the starless sky,
A horror of great darkness at broad noon — I, only I.

Yet give not o’er, But seek Thy sheep, true Shepherd of the flock
Greater than Moses, turn and look once more, And smite a rock.

After getting the group’s reactions to the poems, Brent invites Fr. Henry to conclude with a prayer-blessing on Holy Week.