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The Rising

A Reading For Easter

Richard Terrell


"What is Truth?" says the Procurator, dressed in purple, staring the answer in the face.
The governments of Heaven and Earth play their roles to perfection. Does uneasy Pilate grasp the danger he is in, the precipice on which he stands? Silently, the one to whom he will bow stands looking toward the darkness to which he must proceed. Darkness pretends to judge the light, and people scream for blood.
Bent from the mighty weight he carries (not merely that of wood), the bearer of sin, the source of life goes to the mount of death. Faces, animated masks of loathing of the crooked descendents of Adam shout and jeer and line the streets, for what else is there to do today but seek the latest entertainment? Under the sun they sweat and stink, but what of that? - - - it's free.
He falls, knees collapsing and cut to the bone on sharp edges of stone. His bloodied hand presses the ground to support his tortured rising and the resumption of his way to the place of the skull. His garment is soiled with blood and waste, his flesh takes the lash of an impatient guard. "Come on, let's go, we don't have all day." He walks again to the amazement of many. A man with matted hair and blackened teeth mutters and laughs,
"Look at that! He's still going!"
Up the way he sees his mother, and in a vision of memory he lives again, in brief moment in a time far gone. He sees a toy, made of wood, fashioned by Joseph's hand, his father on earth. He knows again the aroma of bread made of her loving hands. He sees again the sorrow in her eyes, in times when she'd look at things unseen, as if she knew.
Again he falls, the world now reeling, a cacophany of sorrow and rage. "Help him out," the Roman barks, and a man named Simon comes on scene, taking the cross in hand to ease the battered man's way along the hill's ascent. "Come on, let's go ahead and get a good view," a drooling man exhorts. "I don't know, it's getting dark, and it feels weird; I think I'll go home." Angels in Heaven dim the sun, and soon the stage is set.
They strip the man naked, and toss dice for his robe. Held in place by spikes on a tree of shame he hears distant sounds of mocking and grief, mixed in dissonant display. From the battlements of eternity a thunder sounds, and the onlookers and wielders of earthly power glance apprehensively at the sky. From the man is heard the unheard-of cry, that those who brought him here should be forgiven. "What's that he said? Did I hear him right?" "I think he's crazed. The pain, you know." "Maybe so, but I've had enough. I'm getting out of here - - - I'm hungry." In the darkness he utters a lament of forsaken love. "He's calling for his father, but I don't think he's here."
Alone, under the black sky, he dies.
Thus it begins, in awful design, the salvation of the world, the triumph of Love, and the death of Death. Moving from that hill through a hewn-out tomb, rising through the hearts of sojourners and finally to the stars of a new heaven shining on the new earth born of the Holy Blood.
And under the Judgment, or under the Mercy, every knee shall bow.

March 14, 2003
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