Friday, March 16, 2012

held hope

H.S. Mozolak

dedicated in thanks to St. Stephen’s  Faith Family

I had hoped things would work out
you know we had a whole crowd on our side
the donkey almost floated in the parade
surrounded with Palm fronds
and cries of joy the first of last week
it was as if God was creating
a whole new day
hosanna… blessed is he
in whose coming we hope

our hope faded then for several days
like a drying dying tree
we passed one each day
coming and going
on the road to Jerusalem and Temple
without even a single sweet fig fruit
its branches brittle unblessed
by even his passing

our hopes were high
as they always are every Passover
next year people pray
Messiah come
and at table on the night we remembered
the eve of the Egyptian Exodus
the Lord was among us quietly passing
more than manna
mercy’s antidote
for the heart-hardening venom of fiery serpents
bread that lasts he said was his body
in a bloodshed poured out to save us

our hope held strangely
as he filled a basin and washed our feet
so much like a slave
he whom we called master and teacher
among our filthy feet
stinking toes and sweat warped sandals
his hands as gentle as his soul
his eyes seeing within each of us

our hopes swirled like dirty dish water
when there was talk
of betrayal and denial and missing money
all among friends
he and the twelve of us and the women
who ministered to him and to those in need
until the Iscariot left the room
in such great hurry that his robe ripped
screaming on a nail near the door

we carried hopes in the psalms we sang
in the darkening streets through the eastern gate
and across the Kidron creek to a favorite garden
an ancient olive grove where it was said
the roots were the grandchildren of David’s planting
there he prayed like he always did
to the Father with such fervor and confidence
that it always quieted us and calmed our nerves
so we fell asleep

hope shattered into a thousand sharp shards
in lantern lights and torch flarings
amid blaring barks and commands
as temple guards and an angry crowd
forced their way into our midst
shoving grabbing Jesus and beginning to bind him
with cords and pushing us aside

hopelessly Peter drew a blade
a long fish-fileting knife and slashed
at the servant of the high priest among them
severing amid screams his ear
then Christ touched and healed him
a soundless moment amid the loud mayhem
restraining Simon and commanding
that the mob of men let us go

we ran dropping our hopes like lost outer robes
slipped cinctures and several staves
the beloved ending up naked
his only hope to flee for freedom
leaving our hope to stand alone
abandoned without
within the silent trees
between the frightful shadows

hope was but a frayed unraveling thread
as Peter who hurriedly volunteered 
followed the clot of rage
to the courtyard of the priests
what hope could be found
among the lies of witnesses
the judgment before Pilate
condemned by the jeering jury of a hundred haters
at Herod’s court and then before the spit
mockery whips slashes and gashes of police
and soldiery of Rome and Israel

any hope that we had held out for acquittal
a fine perhaps a bribe
or some added corporal punishment
even time locked like the Baptist in a jail
drained away as the throng kept
yelling in fury for the wrong

how can one hope when the heavy beam
of the hanging wood is lashed
to a beaten back bleeding
crowned with spikes of a weed
wildly sharped and used for pain

hope cannot survive being grounded
staked into the earth
hope must have liberty to breath
flow and see beyond
but here on the hill things are nailed down
with the wrath of four searing irons
death is a foregone conclusion
only suffering is figured
in the intensity of the disfigurement

hope has now become garbage on a heap
thrown away all chances
all opportunities for more
planning over goals gone
but for the trudge to the grave

in thirst
yet one of his words
to the helpless hopeless thief
flings a slap into the face of bleak defeat
another to his very enemies
hands with hammers and spear
he offers unshielded forgiveness
care to his mother and brother
and to his God and Father the hidden shout
the Word of hope
that all is done but not despair
and he is in his Father’s hands

when the Christ like a flag
no longer furling on its pole
slumped wilted on the wooden stem
we reached and lowered him with a ladder
others thought to bring
because there was no faith
now I think of what we held
limp sagging drooping
dropping into our arms and hands
the divine hope
that can be held

and oh…
so dead
he did hold us
like we had never been held before
for he was hope
that can be held

even in the last drops
of an saved alabaster jar of tomb spice
carried fragrant to a morning grave
in mourning
and dropped there
like an anchor
whose rope of hope
is held fast now to another shore
beyond the dawn

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