Tai Amri and I had five minutes to preach on the “third word” at a Good Friday service yesterday.
We co-created this poem, each taking a stanza and passing the growing work back and forth, over the course of an hour, in response to the following passage:
John 19:25-27: Standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.
Mother, Behold Thy Son. Behold Thy Mother.
Pre-teens skating on church steps, leaving their mark—
black wheels on marble—
Hipsters sipping single origin espresso served
by carefully ungroomed baristas.
Heavy woman swaying into wispy man
eastbound on the 57 rolling down MacArthur;
Clustered together, pressed together and utterly, completely alone.
A fate we rail against, loud and desperate
raging on facebook, preaching on the street corner,
Wailing on walls, where we add our tags
To the layers of “NOTICE ME” graffiti beneath
Silently weeping in the privacy of our room, our apartment, our car,
Silently sulking in a family-packed house,
with no one who’s really our kin.
Alone because the world has torn us apart,
Pitted us against each other,
Taught us well
We can only trust our own,
And our own will hurt us too.
Bright lights in eyesite
OPD arrives promptly when the deacon calls
Nannies are always cheapest
From the slave ships
Beauty is always bought at the highest price
Orphans are always the first
To stick you up
When G-d was the only one, who knew your name
And your only friend is the internet
The walls are blank, where the rich die
But here, in the empire’s backyard
Mothers build altars to the dead
And everyone’s your auntie
Everyone feels your bruises
And everyone is your shelter
Jesus’ undisrupted view from the cross
Through sweat and blood,
Was on empire’s backyard,
On family rent asunder, in hiding…
And on mothers and aunties and sons,
Afraid, aching, mourning, broken,
in the shadow of the cross,
In the shadow of Rome,
In the shadow of longing and loneliness and defeat,
No more now you are everyone’s keeper
No more now they are yours
No more now you can’t be numb
No more now you can’t give up
The light is yours, bequeathed, your mother, her child
She scolds you to move something
She dresses your dying body
She spits on your domination
Broken up and split into oneness
And every day we walk the streets
We witness Jesus’ brokenness,
We feel the ache of alone
And then we witness his gift to us from the cross
In each other’s embrace in the midst of the ache:
We are each others’.
We are ours.
We are sons and mothers and family in the midst of fear
And overcoming fear,
In the midst of alone,
And overcoming alone.
You are who I was looking for
In the eyes of Jesus
Your arms are what I was crying for
You are who I had in mind
When I said, G-d I love you
Us, the fulfillment of promise
Jesus loved, for us
Mother, behold thy son.
Behold thy mother.