Two Voices at Easter

By Sherwin W. Howard

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    Mary, Mother of Jesus: Good-bye at Golgotha

    I’ve said good-bye a thousand times.

    Each mother does,

    Then, patient, praying, waits at home.

    I said good-bye

    When toddler’s feet first moved

    Beyond safe whitewashed kitchen door,

    When youthful hands

    Found Joseph’s dark oak bench and tools

    To practice craft of carpenter,

    When joyful boy discovered

    God’s will writ bold in temple text

    And heard bright angels’ promises.

    I said good-bye

    When John baptized him in the stream

    And a lone white dove descended

    As emblem of his Father’s love,

    When faith turned water into wine

    And every miracle in turn

    Confirmed that he was God’s

    Not mine.

    I said good-bye

    When neighbor’s stone turned sharp,

    Ears closed against his tongue,

    And mocking people drove him

    From green Galilee.

    And finally

    Standing in the empty crowd

    I saw stupidity not men

    Pound spikes into his gentle hands

    And cursing lift him up

    To goad and mock out loud

    Until I said good-bye a thousand times

    And fresh salt tears poured down

    To mark the ground that we were left upon.

    Good-bye my son.

    I will be lonely

    But not alone.

    Good-bye my son.

    We’ll wait for you

    At home.

    Stephen, a Blind Child: Witness to the Resurrection

    I will be twelve this year—

    Of Levi’s tribe

    And might have become a priest

    Except I have been blind since three.

    A childhood fever’s curse

    Has made the scripture hard for me.

    And so I was surprised

    My mother often let me go alone

    To hear Him preach outside the gate.

    And though my stumbled path was often late,

    I knew He let young children close

    To learn the kingdom’s mysteries.

    I treasured his soft words,

    Not always understood

    But warm like summer to my ears.

    He taught the songs of faith

    That sailors sang on storm-tossed Galilee,

    And sometimes when he spoke of love

    I almost thought that I could see

    His face and glowing sun above—

    Such are the dreams of children

    Blind since three.

    And then dark day in early spring

    My mother said I must not go again—

    The Romans had imprisoned him

    As heretic, she said.

    Tense worried tone

    Confirmed God’s love

    That I and others there

    Had felt and known.

    Two more nights passed

    And then

    Before our evening prayer

    I felt the whole earth lift and fall

    Rocks crying out in pain

    As darkened pall slipped across the town

    And mother held me comfort close,

    Knowing that a god had died,

    And seeing and blind eyes both cried.

    But that was not the important part.

    This morning while the last watch slept

    I heard a sound

    And rose to feel first cool hill winds

    Whisper morning round my floor

    And women’s voices hushed below,

    Hurrying through still darkened street,

    Speaking of angel and empty tomb.

    And I thought I saw faint light

    But with my real eyes this time—

    A growing glow that conquered night

    And filled my room

    With visual hymn that angels sang

    In wondrous unity.

    Soft

    Still growing like the dawn

    Until all wind and earth joined song:

    Al-le-lu-ia,

    Christ is King!

    Ears had dreamed such dream before

    But blinded eyes had never seen

    Heaven and earth combined in joy—

    God’s witness for a blinded boy:

    Alleluia,

    My Lord is King!

    Fear of Hope, by Derek Hegsted

    The Lord Greets Mary after the Resurrection, by William Henry Margetson