Saturday, April 23, 2011

My King and my God

I have been reading "The Hawk and the Dove" by Penelope Wilcock. Most of the story takes place in the 1300's at a monastery. They are stories of the men who have chosen to live the monastic life and of how God worked in and through them.  What I read this week fits so well with the fact that this is Holy Week.  This is the story of Brother Francis as he is broken before his abbot, Peregrine.
Francis, in a vision hears ...
 'someone weeping...sobbing...groaning. Father, there is someone in such trouble out there. I want to go and see!'   His eyes widened. He was really seeing it.
'Go on then.'  It seemed so real that Father Peregrine felt as curious as Francis did....
'It's a garden with shrubs and trees, dark shapes. I can smell the perfume of the flowers. And someone is crying in the darkness in bitter distress. I can't find him. I'm searching for him, looking everywhere. Wait- there, under the trees. A man, crouching, bowed down to the ground. Oh, the loneliness of him. He's broken. He's-he's afraid. I've never seen a man in such despair...I must go and...oh, God, it's Jesus!
Out here, all alone. Jesus...he was out here even before I came out. He was out here all the time, in the lonely place where abandonment and fear belong. He has always been here. I think is Gethsemane.'

'What are you going to do?' asked Peregrine in fascination. Brother Francis looked at him incredulously.
'Do? Stay with him, of course. I can't leave him alone in this distress. I couldn't just abandon him. Jesus, my heart, my love...his courage is the hearth for the night. As long as he is here, the darkness is home....
'The Christ you saw,' said Peregrine quietly, 'that is the Christ I love. All his life he lived pressed on every side by human need, and he met the weariness and testing of it with a patience and humility that silences me, shames me for what I am. But in Gethsemane, I see Jesus crumble, sobbing in loneliness and fear, crushed to the ground, pleading for a way out, and there was none. I cling to that vision, as you will. That sweating, terrified, abandoned man; that is my King, my God. Such courage as I have comes from the weeping of that broken man.'

They went into the chapel in silence...
 'How did you do it?' Father Peregrine prayed in silent wonder... How did you lift the man out of that torturing agony of grief and fear just by consenting to bear the same torture, the same lonely agony? Suffering God, your grace mystifies me. You become weak to redeem me in my weakness. Your face, agonized, smeared with dust and sweat and blood and spit, must become the icon of my secret life with you. The tears that scald my eyes run into your mouth. The sweat of my fear glistens on your body. The wounds with which life has maimed me show livid on your back, your hands, your feet. The peace you win me by such a dear and bloody means defeats my reason. Lift me up into the power of your cross, blessed Lord. May the tears that run into your mouth scald my eyes. May the sweat that glistens on your body dignify my fear. May the blood that drips from your hands nourish my life.' "

4 Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth. 
Isaiah 53:4-7

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