What I saw: Good Friday reflections

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

By hope.


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

But recognize

In the pain of His creatures:

The dying God, the pinioned Almighty.

Oh God, give me grace to follow in His steps.

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Wanna B. Writer
5 years ago

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!

5 years ago

This goes into a place that is too deep for tears…

John Coblentz
5 years ago

A terrible beauty, Shari. Thank you!

Shaunda Stoltzfus
5 years ago

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!

Marlene Graber
5 years ago

Wow! My throat aches…

5 years ago

You have His eyes and His heart, Shari, and carry the reality of His person to your world.

5 years ago

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

5 years ago


5 years ago

This is just my Easter weekend needed. Thank you.

Priscilla F.
5 years ago

“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.

5 years ago

Gina took my only word.

5 years ago

Weeping here. Thanks Sis! Beautiful.

5 years ago

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.

5 years ago

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

Sharon Yoder
5 years ago

Shari, your poignant, stark words remind us how broken the world is. The sobs enter into the deep recesses of my heart.

Gloria Graham
5 years ago

Thank you for sharing your insight.

5 years ago

You say it best.
I love you and your beautiful heart.

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