Tis not the thing, but after, gives me pause,
A shudder running through me, down my spine,
What will incorporeal eyes, be-awed,
Behold when, at last, I pass beyond time?
It forces upon my shoulders a freight,
A momentary fear: is it all real?
For then there is no room for such debate,
But now finality to face and feel.
For others have gone, beholden that land,
And seen and felt finality’s caress,
By Love they, loved, now wait and hold that hand
That led them, fearing, all the way to Rest.
Be-steel my spine, be-flesh my heart, so I
May neither blink nor cringe but joy to rise.
Thomas, did you jump when finger touched bone?
Did you wipe off your hands on your tunic?
Did you notice how His eyes shone
With loving laughter as you struggled to speak?
Oh, but Thomas, when words finally came
No levee could begin to hold back the flood:
“My Lord and my God!” you (too) loudly exclaimed,
Hugging your Lord, your friend, down from the rood.
One day, some day, the set of all of the days
That course inexorably along the thread—
Braided thread—that looms o’er all our means and ways
Will fill to the brim, the last word will be said,
The last touch will be felt, the last sight be seen,
The last darkness eclipsed and turned on its head.
The gray, weary-cold winter will then be green.
What is a Terza Rima?
You were always more than stone,
But long since anyone recognized
By all appearances, you were useful,
Needed, if not often thought about
By anyone else.
Days passed, one like to another,
Nothing changing you, nor you
Until that Day, when your mere stone
Became something greater, higher,
The normal, familiar emptiness gave way
To abnormal, unfamiliar fullness––
Anxious and uncertain.
Just when it became unbearable,
And the prospect of this becoming
The new normal––
Sweet, reassuring emptiness returned.
But this emptiness was not like before––
Different, but better.
But it was not actually empty, either:
A robe, a napkin, and two caretakers
Athanasius, answering the question why Jesus, having become incarnate, had to die a public death like crucifixion (instead of just dying and being raised privately):
For as it was not fitting for the Word of God, being the life, to inflict death himself on his own body, so neither was it suitable to fly from death offered by others, but rather to follow it up unto destruction, for which reason he naturally neither laid aside his body of his own accord, nor, again, fled from the Jews when they took counsel against him. But this did not show weakness on the Word’s part, but, on the contrary, showed him to be the Saviour and Life; in that he both awaited death to destroy it and hasted to accomplish the death offered him for the salvation of all. And besides, the Saviour came to accomplish not his own death, but the death of men; when he did not lay aside his body by a death of his own—for he was life and had none—but received that death which came from men, in order perfectly to do away with this when it met him in his own body.
Now, death must precede resurrection, as it would be no resurrection did not death precede; so that if the death of his body had taken place anywhere in secret, the death not being apparent nor taking place before witnesses, his resurrection too had been hidden and without evidence. Or why, while when he had risen he proclaimed the resurrection, should he cause his death to take place in secret? or why, while he drove out evil spirits in the presence of all, and made the man blind from his birth recover his sight, and changed the water into wine, that by these means he might be believed to be the Word of God, should he not manifest his mortal nature as incorruptible in the presence of all, that he might be believed himself to be the Life?
— Athanasius, On the Incarnation, para 22.
“…I will answer him according to his many idols, so that I may take hold of the house of Israel by their hearts” (Ezekiel 14:4-5 HCSB).
Steel and stone, like python’s rhythmic death-waves,
Grip your heart with lust, their muscles flexing;
You will stand before Me, will you be brave?
Rocks and iron, can they turn aside My blow?
Can you withstand My inquiry?
Can you ransom your life with gold?
Can you find even one word to breathe?
Steel and stone assume the graveyard shift,
But earthquakes and angels win out.
I leave stone hollows with rifts
That I may fill them with the stones
That used to live within your chests
And take you by the heart to own
Your love in My true Sabbath rest.
“Hosanna!” hollered the heaving crowd,
Casting coats and cutting palm fronds
To lay along the Lord’s path.
“Hosanna in the highest!” they hailed
The Messiah, mule-borne yet mightier
Than Rome’s rebellious and bloody rule.
Rejoice, for Royalty humbly rides
To die an undeserved death,
For sinners’ sakes Glory stooped,
Penniless, to provide peace in this place.
“Crucify!” cried the ruthless crowd,
Spitting and spewing filth like slime.
Blaspheming, betraying, and breathing
Threats with throats opened through grace.
“Surely the Son of God is slain!”
But Death was denied and defeated.
Rejoice, for Royalty gloriously rises
To sit as Son in heavenly session
For sinners’ sakes Glory soared
Ascending to intercede for adopted sons.
“Kurios!” confesses the countless masses
Kneeling before the now-known King.
Robed in radiance, He reigns forever:
Glorious God and Guardian of His own.
Enemies eliminated and eternally bound,
Sorrows salved and sins atoned.
Rejoice, for Royalty graciously reigns
Divine delight deigns to welcome
Adam’s offspring into Eternal Love
Trinity triumphing in tangible glory.