Adullams Cave

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Easter's Cross...

The truth is that the more I see the cross the more I want to stay with it and have it and have the guy who was on it to stay by me. There on that little hill we have called calvary, outside the walls of the city and in the place were thieves and murderers and losers died, I have found an end to my life sorrows and the struggles that crippled me for so many years.

I have a recurring and ever growing vision that swims around my heart and mind becoming clearer and clearer whenever I close my eyes to soak in his presence and think of him. I am in a garden as a boy just looking around under rocks and playing make believe and I am alone, like I mostly felt I was as a kid, and I'm trying to make my own fun and to forget some stuff that went on regularly in the home of my boyhood. I look up and I see at the edge of the garden, where it is barren and lifeless, an old dry and dead tree sticking out of the ground with red rivulets of blood running down its base. It is the red that attracts me to it because it is the only thing giving it some colour. As I lift my head I see the vague form of a man with his feet immovably fixed parallel to the tree, one on each side, with thick nails going sideways through the heels. As I move a bit closer and my sight becomes clearer I follow the line of the man's body upwards and notice through the red map of fresh bright blood that his skin is almost as dark as the tree and the dying sun at his back is turning him into a silhouette. Again I move closer, having to squint my eyes a little because of the angle of the sun. But as I get nearer, I realise the dark skinned man is breathing still. Though still a few feet away from him, I hear each loud breath is incredibly strained and desperate. I notice that with every new attempt at breathing he has to lift his whole body upwards from his feet, using the nails that pierce his heels to push up from. Every breath he manages also pumps a new stream of blood from the nail holes in his heels. I sense the man's terrible pain as well as his desire to let go and die, and yet I can tell also that his human instinct to live is contstantly willing his body towards yet another and then another agonizing breath. I am frightened. I look around but no-one is there to help. I hesitate before moving closer to the man as I realise that tears are forming in my eyes, not so much in empathy for the man but more because of the fear and powerlessness I feel. Fear and powerlessness being two emotions I was acutely aquainted with as a young child and here, with this man who hangs before me so helplessly, the sense of them is incredibly heightened.

I stop within arms distance of the dying man. He is still laboring with all his strength for every breath. Breaths that are becoming so loud and disturbing for me that I wish in my heart he would hurry and die. The man is not aware of my presence and tentatively, in my fear, I reach out with just one small finger and touch him once lightly on his bloodied foot - somehow thinking in a childlike way that it may comfort him. Amazingly, in the immense trial of pain that the dark skinned man is experiencing, I know his body has registered my tiny touch. His eyes open and he looks at me. There is nothing striking about his features except his eyes. Within his eyes is an ancient knowing. As he looks at me and I at him, I know somehow that I have known him and that he also knows me, though never having ever seen him before. It is a difficult moment to put words to. The look he gives me is such a sudden and profound one of recognition that I feel embarressed and I have to look away. It is similar in the way I might encounter a stranger on a train and our eyes get inexplicably drawn together for a brief second just like we recognise some long, forgotten part of ourselves but cannot put a name to it. The moment passes. The man dropps his eyes shut again and attempts another breath but can barely lift himself up this time. I hear the blood gurgle and the wheeze gets louder and more strained and suddenly, for reasons I do not understand I no longer want him to die.

I move more quickly this time, ignoring the blood that covers his legs and feet, and I reach out with my little hands to try and push his body up so he can breathe. My hands slip frantically up his feet with the blood as I try to push and I know the effort is futile. New tears began to well in my eyes. The man lifts his eyelids once again and looks at me with a single acquiescent movement of his eyes that tells me it is okay. I feel forlorn and overwhelmed with such a sense of loss as if somehow, unexplainably, this man dying will mean the end of all hope for me. I am overcome with grief and began to cry openly with huge sobs that come from someplace deep within me. Then through my grief and despair I hear the man wheeze out my name softly, "Simon". It sounds like the last call of a dying father for whom the love of his young child is the only thing that matters to him. I look up again and the man holds my stare in compassion for a brief moment then glances sideways as if pointing with his eyes. I follow his eyes that turn towards one of his outstretched arms that are pinned to a cross-bar by thick nails in his wrists. I can see him straining to move his hand and then his finger slowly extends outward. I look to where his finger is pointing and see an old wooden ladder leaning against a tree only a few feet away.

Inwardly my hope rises. As I rush to get the ladder I think in my childish madness that he wants me to use it to help him down from the cross. "Maybe I can still save him!", I think.

I return with the ladder and with one downward movement of his eyes he motions for me to lean the ladder against his left-arm side of the cross bar. I do so and begin to climb hurriedly up the steps, the weight of my small body against his arm not enough to add to the pain he is already in. By the time I am at eye level with him I know instinctively that my thoughts of saving him are folly. He is not coming down from the cross alive. He stops trying to lift himself up to breathe and I know he has but a few moments before he will expel his last breath. Yet with those last few moments of his life he holds my gaze with a penetrating look and a love that seems to see into the places of my life and soul - some parts that not even I could see. And with that one look this man unveils my life to me.

As this dying man's gaze holds me for what was in reality the briefest of moments, I see myself walk through my life and into all the places where only the very broken go. I see the path where my rejected self took me. I, the boy Simon, who now is mesmerised by the eyes of the man on the cross, re-live my existence. All the dark haunts I found myself in, the places where bitter and lonely people go to use every type of device in an effort to fill their love starved lives. I sailed from one useless and vain moment to another, from alcoholism, crime and addictions, to sexual degradation and social humiliation in just about every possible form. I travelled through my life creating one crisis upon another. Arrogantly abusing women with infidelity, misogynistic control, manipulation and violent cruelty. Using every relationship and human being who crossed my path for my own ends and unable to stop the cycle of deceit, selfishness and empty fulfillment that had all begun as a little boy. A boy who at the age of six had once, on bended knees and with tears, asked God to make him good because he was sure that he was bad.

All this I was seeing through his eyes that held me like love to his cross.

Then I realise, on that lonely tree with a man about to breathe his last breath, that I am seeing my life for the first time as the sad, terrible, self centered and vain journey that it truly was. Not only that but, by way of revelation, I understand that it is just not this man's power and love that is showing me the true nature of my life. It is because at that moment as I am seeing my life unfold from beginning to end, this man is living it also, with me, even as he himself is dying. He too is breathing in each tobacco stained, drug induced and curse-laden breath. Every dark and wandering step, every hand laid upon me in anger or lust and every one I dealt out to another, every shameful act, every thrust of my yearning and corrupted loins, every sad, bitter, resentful, vile and meaningless thought and word that ever passes through me, he experiences himself - just as if he is the one doing it. Just as if he were the one who did it all. He drinks down the cup of my life lovingly like it were his very own. A cup that to a righteous man must taste like poison being poured into a pure soul. He becomes my corruption. Here, the holy one, in the final Genesis, re-makes himself in my dark and twisted image. He becomes my broken me so that I can be his whole Him.

In stark and humble awareness I see that it was not just the weight of his crucified body that was causing him to gasp so desperately for air, nor is it the blood seeping from the nail holes that is killing him. But rather, it is the sin of the ages, the billions of cups he drank just like mine, drowning this man of light in a universe of black Godlessness. Transforming him into something unrecognisable, so hideously deformed and ugly that the sky becomes black and heaven shuts its eyes as his form is "disfigured beyond that of any man."

And I, the little boy Simon, can do nothing but hold onto him around his neck and kiss his cheek gently, smearing the blood from his face over my lips and tasting the gift he gave me, listening to his last exhalation, as his spirit leaves his body like a breeze, carrying the words that I have waited to hear all my life, softly to my ear like a whisper, "It is finished, it is finished, it is finished..."


Oh, dear, dearest one of God
Your highest and utmost
exchanged
For my lowest and my least
This cross, this cross, this wonderful cross
Where the ancient Most High became one with us
On a filthy, bloodied and accursed tree
Upon a hill that was barren but for thee
The Son's lasts breath
Beneath a blackened sky
and darkened heaven
As Father hid himself to weep
For that which he could not bare to see
Thank you, oh thank you, oh thank you....

10 Comments:

At 3:56 PM, Blogger Kenneth said...

Simon,thankyou for sharing your heart of grace my friend,it truely is finished.isa,53v11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.

He truely has risen and we are risen with him.Blessed are those who have not seen yet believe.

continue in his love my friend alway's,
kenneth.

 
At 4:43 PM, Blogger Kansas Bob said...

Happy Easter Simon!

 
At 8:36 PM, Blogger SteveW said...

That is quite an insight my friend.

 
At 12:35 PM, Blogger Karen said...

There's a drawing stirring in me over this post, Simon...

 
At 2:51 PM, Blogger bjk said...

Wow....Simon that is powerful....

 
At 6:08 PM, Blogger BruceD said...

Man, that's awesome!

Thanks for letting us in on your vision.

 
At 3:59 PM, Blogger Mark D said...

Very, very moving. Wonderful, descriptive post.

 
At 3:34 AM, Anonymous Dave Aldrich said...

Simon... I walked with you in this story and experienced the awesome heart of God. Praise Jesus, the King of Glory!

Dave A - Lincoln, RI, USA

 
At 6:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Enjoyed a lot! Accutane acne mild

 
At 9:52 AM, Blogger Anders said...

Kenneth wrote: “53v11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.”

I want to comment about atonement.

(le-havdil) How to live in order to enable the Creator in His loving kindness to provide His kipur –atonement- is outlined in Tan’’kh ; and was also taught by the first century Ribi Yehoshua from Nazareth (the Mashiakh; the Messiah).

Read it here: http://www.netzarim.co.il
Anders Branderud

 

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