Holy week began with a boisterous procession, the One everyone hailed riding on a young donkey that had never been ridden. How did he tame that beast? I whispered, “Can you tame the wild places in my heart that still evade my censure?” Palm branches waved in my face as he rode near. Then he was there, looking right at me, something of a smile, the smile of a friend who knows me, perhaps better than I do myself. And those eyes. Not laughing, but bright, intensely alive, looking deep into my soul and loving me.
The donkey jostled him from side to side. Clop, clop, clop, he passed by, me clutching those eyes to my heart.
That smiling face followed me throughout the week, glancing from the table as he broke the bread and lifted the cup, one last time with his close friends. Nodding as he washed their feet, as if to say, do you see how I’m doing this? The way my touch loves filthy into soft and new?
And then he turned away, into the garden, into the night of his despair. I could only watch from a distance, knowing I would betray him with a kiss every time I loved something more than him.
As the cock crowed he turned and looked at me again. I expected harsh eyes, accusing eyes. But it was knowing, painfully loving me deep within, in spite of my treasonous heart that sought the approval of others over him. As he was beaten and humiliated, I knew every blow was meant for me. For my sin. And yet he took it. All.
All the way to the nails pounded into hands that had touched the leper and turned his skin into purity. Hands that had broken bread to feed thousands.
I stood at the foot of the cross, at first unable to look up, dreading the truth of his look. It was for me he struggled for breath as his blood ran down the rough wood and stained the ground.
At last, strangely drawn, I looked up. He smiled! It was brief, but there in the midst of darkness and pain beyond bearing, I saw his knowing. Barely nodding, his eyes said, “For it all. I’m here for it all.”
Out loud, “It is finished.”
Did the whole world shake as much as I?
But darkness seemed to win again. How could I go on, now that those eyes were closed and all the light had gone out?
At the end of the waiting, seeking even the closed eyes and still body, hands that could not stroke my cheeks, I went and found nothing.
Nothing like I ever dreamed.
Nothing I could do or change or earn or even imagine into existence.
The heavy stone was rolled away, the weight of all my mistakes moved aside to make way for life.
There he was! Laughing eyes loving me, somehow even more, as if to say, “Now you can laugh at the darkness, too!”
“Now you are free of grave clothes, too!”
“Now you can be fully alive, too!”
And I will never be the same again.
That’s why I sing, “Hallelujah, He has risen!”