What makes Good Friday, good?

 

What makes Good Friday, good?

 

Good Friday? What on earth makes such a day good?

Celebrating the hideous death of a good man, and the craven flight of his supposedly loyal followers?

Or the fact that we at the other side of the story know the ending?

Imagine how that day must have been for those involved. The disciples scattered, all their dreams and hopes in tatters, fearing for their own lives. Only a few, like Jesus’ mother, and John(according to some) daring to stay and watch, weeping as someone they loved died a slow and excruciating death; the rest hiding and quivering at every footfall that came near their door.

The veil in the temple was torn as Jesus died, torn in two against the weave of the cloth, and the sky became dark, if you believe the Gospels. It must have seemed that the world was ending, or was close to the end, to the friends and family who had seen the rise and the promise of Jesus’ ministry. Their own deaths would follow soon, hunted down by the authorities and exterminated as subversive vermin.

I’ve often thought about what Jesus himself felt, whether he knew the ending of the story, or whether, like his friends, he had no idea how things would pan out. I’m never sure how much accretion the Gospels contain, of things attributed after the event. But whatever the case, to go through death, and the cruel death by Roman-style crucifixion……the agony is beyond imagining. Few people will ever experience such pain, such anguish.

My own experience of pain and of internal anguish are tiny in comparison and yet, they give me a slight insight into the experience, which is the most anyone can hope for. My struggles with despair, depression and anxiety, are nothing and yet, they bring me the gifts of compassion and empathy. When I suffer my Good Fridays, as I do periodically, I never know for sure that there will be, this time, an Easter morning, that I will rise again. Experience and knowledge tell me there will be and yet, I doubt it. Each crisis is like the first, the only crisis, as I live through it. I try to record my passage through times like these in poetry and in prose in the hopes that I can remind myself of the promise of resurrection, and that others too might find hope in it.

Good Friday

(me to Jesus/Jesus to me)

Nail me to that cross again

Why don’t you?

You’ve done it before

And you’ll do it again.

Here, I’ll even hold

My hands out for you,

Pass the hammer,

Hold the nail steady.

Bang! It’s done,

All over, bar the shouting.

Long day, arms outstretched,

Breath ragged, pain white hot.

Sky darkens, night begins.

Death, a relief, a release,

The cool of the tomb

A simple comfort, unexpected

After the heat of the day.

Comfort too in acceptance

Of the inevitable, peace even.

Sleep now: the worst is over.

Three wishes

I have posted this before but I can’t remember where.

I got soaked right through today not so much by the torrential rain as by the cars whizzing through puddles at the side of the road and sending massive sprays of fithy water all over me.

I am deeply weary tonight on all levels. One of my colleagues who I value highly quit today. She quit for the same sort of reasons I would quit were it not for sheer cussedness and determination not to be forced out.

Anyway, those over a certain age in the Uk may remember a brand of bubble baths and soaps called Three Wishes, which was marketted as being something from a fairytale. Mine are from a rather Grimmer Fairytale, I think.

Three wishes.

 

Every time I reach breaking point,

I find that I do not break.

Every time I reach the end of my tether,

I find that the tether is made of elastic.

Every time I think in pain I can’t go on,

I find that somehow against the odds, I do.

Sometimes I wish that I might break,

Shattering into a million relieved fragments,

Sparkling like road-crash diamonds

Both beautiful and horrible at once.

I wish that when I feel that collar

Press and pull my aching throat,

That it would snap, burst asunder

And leave me sprawling on the ground.

And I wish more than anything,

That when I feel I can’t possibly go on,

Tired and worn from trying too hard,

I might be given grace and space to stop.