Before the Finish Line

IMG_2072Oh, what a night.
I shouldn’t be surprised
That they were so surprised
(My friends at last night’s supper).
A holy day is not a time, of course,
For breaking bodies with your bread,
For drinking blood instead of wine
(Hey, did you catch what I did there?
It’s like that plague of Egypt, where
God turned the water into blood?
Hey, anybody? No?).

So maybe telling everyone
That they would flee before the night was out
Was something of a downer.
Peter: Always first, you are
To give me the wrong answer
(Except that one most special time, you know,
Although I think that what you mean by “Christ”
And what I mean might be two different things).
Stay by me? “No, my friend, you won’t.
You will not even own that we are friends
Before the cock crows thrice.”

Oh, what a night. I guess I wore them out,
Or certainly they would have stayed awake
While I was praying, weeping, shaking
In anticipation of the end of night.
Night’s end! It should have been a rosy dawn
Whose colors summon promise, life, and joy!
But no, the day has brought me
No relief from woe.

Day has brought me no relief from woe.
Now they lay on questions.
Now they lay on whips.
Now they make a crown with thorns
(Now whose idea was that?)
And jam it hard into my brow.

It hurts.

It hurts, but less than when I saw my best friends run.
It hurts, but less than when I heard the rooster crow.
It hurts, but less than when I saw the face of Judas
Leaning toward me with a kiss.

It hurts.

Well, do your worst, you Romans.
You will; you always do!
Good luck to you, though, Romans,
Because you’ve broken my poor body
So my shoulders will not bear a cross
Up these stony streets. Take that!

I know you’ll find a way to get me there
And get the cross. You’ll fasten me upon the wood
And lift me up and watch and wait
Until my straining lungs exhale
A final time, my “It is finished.”
You’ll get me to my “finish line.”
(Ha! Foolish Romans! Beat me as you will,
You will not steal from me
A gallows humor even as I look
Upon the cross I cannot carry
Up to Calvary’s hill)

And, foolish Romans, do you think
My “It is finished” line is my finish line?
Not for a moment (Well, all right,
For more than just a moment:
For three days. But let that pass.).
I may not lift my cross, but I will lift my life
From out the grave you’d leave me.
No, Romans; and no, Judas;
No, kings and priests and others
Who would claim to speak for God:

You may drag me to a finish line
And claim I’m finished.
But I am never done, or gone,
And I will turn my finish line
Into a new beginning.

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