I have never seen a nail pounded deep into a human body
The flesh torn and held by the metal
But I have seen
The flat and stapled wound on the chest of a friend
Where once a breast nurtured children.
Oh God, give me grace to look gently, and not to turn away.
I have never seen thorns pressed into a forehead,
Red drops snaking their way down a face gray with pain
But I have seen
The devastation on the face of a child
When the last tie to the familiar was snipped through –
But we cannot be separated. We promised Daddy we would stay together.
I have felt the hopeless sobs against my chest, seen
The light snuffed out of the eyes.
Oh God, give me grace to hold, and to heal.
I have never seen a man’s back worn to shreds by a cruel whip
More raw, in the end, than whole
But I have seen
Slits in the wrists of a friend, crisscrossed lines of despair
As she walked away from rehab, picking at the scabs.
It was the last time I saw her alive.
Oh God, give me grace to know and be known
I have never seen the last clothes stripped
Bartered, diced for
While the soldiers laughed and the Christ of the world hung dying
But I have seen
A child with nothing from his past but the outfit he was wearing
And memories fresh in his mind of uniforms, disintegration, goodbyes.
I have watched him struggle to rest in a strange bed, to trust new people,
To get his untrained fingers around a belt buckle and a crayon and a table knife and a toothbrush
To find home again
When all has been stolen.
Oh God, give me grace to reach out my arms
And commit my spirit.
I have never seen a man accursed by the world, forsaken by the Father
Hanging between earth and sky
But in word pictures, I have seen my own beloved son
In the silence of his tent at night when home is far away
And the devil says You are worthless. You are alone. You are such a bad one.
I have seen a dying man in a hospital bed groping for words to say the last things.
I have looked far into eyes of a child trapped in genetic disability. Where is he? How much does he know, in this lucid, connected moment?
I have seen love silent, forbidden, bloodshot.
I have seen my sister’s and my mother’s heads bereft of hair, their bodies made listless by chemo.
I have seen the anguish in the mug shot eyes of a mother, a woman at the end of everything.
I have seen the confusion of the elderly as the world wavers and shifts around them and they reach for one hand to hold, one set of eyes to lock onto, one unchanging point of reference.
I have heard in my small way the agony of the ages, the death cry of the heart
And beneath it, I hear the scream
Of the Man I never saw
In the pain of His creatures:
The dying God, the pinioned Almighty.
Oh God, give me grace to follow in His steps.
O Shari…the more moved I am the less I have to say. Linking the agony of Jesus with the wretchedness of humanity somehow makes them both more relatable. Well written!
This goes into a place that is too deep for tears…
A terrible beauty, Shari. Thank you!
This is an agonizingly beautiful piece, my friend.
You have awakened my heart today to his suffering and death in a new way.
I am challenged to not turn away quickly from the suffering i witness today!
Yes! God, give me grace to follow in His steps!
Wow! My throat aches…
You have His eyes and His heart, Shari, and carry the reality of His person to your world.
I held an atlas in my lap ran my fingers across the whole world and whispered where does it hurt? It answered, everywhere. Warsan Shire
This is just my Easter weekend needed. Thank you.
“They are nailed to the cross, they are nailed to the cross, oh, HOW MUCH He was willing to bear! With what anguish and loss; Jesus went to the cross, and He carried my sins with Him there.” Easter blessings to you and the ones you love.
Gina took my only word.
Weeping here. Thanks Sis! Beautiful.
Oh. This is the answer I was looking for. At my job, I see much ugliness and hopelessness. I have been wondering how long I can work here before I either become calloused to suffering or lose my sanity. What you have written gives me a third option, a way to “look gently, and not to turn away”. I don’t understand why or how it is that His suffering heals our suffering, but I know that it is so.
The dying God, the pinioned Almighty… I think this Easter has brought more tears and a deeper realization of God’s sacrifice than ever before. Thank you
Shari, your poignant, stark words remind us how broken the world is. The sobs enter into the deep recesses of my heart.
Thank you for sharing your insight.
You say it best.
I love you and your beautiful heart.