The Prelude

The room gathered the dusky shades of even
And laid them as darkened fingers across the faces of the Twelve;
His sadness of heart lay heavily upon them,
He spoke of betrayal and departure, of rejection before the dawn.
The sop was passed, the door opened and closed,
Footsteps receded to that fateful destination.
But the eyes that surveyed them were gentle and wise,
“Peace,” he said. “Love one another; the Comforter shall come.”
The bread was broken, the fruit of the vine was sipped,
He rose and, followed by the twelve, less one, passed
Down the steps from the upper room.
As they emerged, the softness of the night swept around them
Shrouding them and matching the solemn intensity of their thoughts,
Not wanting to believe the import of those words
Replete with the imminence of parting,
They, unbelieving, must face the reality;
Now they must stand alone,
Faith the only support, love the only strength.
He moved ahead, always a little ahead,
His path chartered, never unsure.
The shadows flickered on his robe, His feet patterned the soft dust,
They followed, each pondering to a conclusion,
Reluctant, unacceptable, but irrevocable.
Across the brook, the water dancing between the stones
Stirred memory of their feet between his hands
In an act of humility and service.
Up the hill the path lay ahead.
With three, he passed through as the wicker gate yielded to His touch,
At His gesture of cessation they halted and then sank down
Their backs against the broad support of the ageless cedar;
He moved away and knelt upon the ground.
His voice was clear and sweet,
Filled with the devotion of a loving son;
The leaves lay motionless, the breeze ceased to sigh,
The throbbing pulse of the earth was stilled
As Son communed with Father.
The suffering and the Atonement had begun
In Gethsemane.

[illustration] Jesus Institutes the Sacrament, by Gary Smith