A poem by Alex Dickens
At our Maundy Thursday gathering, a number of different poems were shared, and we’re featuring some of them in blogs over the Easter Weekend. Here’s the next one, by Alex Dickens.
Adonai natan, Adonai lakach
God has given, God has taken away.
In the tradition of God’s chosen people, we would place stones.
A pebble, worn down through thousands of years of wind and rain, Carved from mountain to palm fitting rounded It would stand guard over your tomb.
It is a sign of respect. A sign of remembrance.
A sign our bodies are found here mere metres apart though heavens and lifetimes separate our souls.
You are home now, I, still travelling.
This visit is a step on the journey. A moment of reflection though no mirror holds your image now.
At the grave of a loved one you would place upon it a stone with each new visit.
Baruch atah Adonai
Blessed are you God
You would have seen this yourself, You as cornerstone, as Rock of Ages, Adding to the stones covering those who are now with the Father.
God has given, God has taken away
Maybe in those moments before breath refilled lungs Before you called back a friend from unreachable depths “Lazarus rise for death cannot hold you”
Before his sisters would tear black like families never to be fully repaired Did you then place your own stone?
Your own heart heaviness, your own time worn weatherdness.
Upon where he lay.
The book’s shortest verse betraying its fullest meaning.
Fully human, heart racing as it beats ferociously at the pain Fully human, eyes braced against tears in compassion again.
Fully God, with the power to raise and the kindness to save.
“Lazarus rise for death cannot hold you”
Turn the page and he would hear you speak the same words of yourself.
Like a sweet promise we could scarcely believe.
Like a drop of fresh water in the deserts or seas.
Drip. Perfume poured out on your feet until empty.
Drip. Wine shared with friends. Drink, there is plenty.
Drip. Sweat on the brow, but I know that you sent me.
Drip. Blood. Beat. Beat. Beat. And quiet.
Fully human. Yet as one heart stops, every human life begins.
In Hebrew, writing the word stone means writing two others.
Eben — אֶ֫בֶן — stone
Ab — אָב — father
Ben — בֵּן — Son
This handful of earth, this maker of mountains, Named after the ones with the earth in their hands and who moulded the mountains.
A relationship formed from insatiable love.
Named as enduring and as a foundation that’s strong.
Named from an act where generations of sons place down their heaviness in the name of their fathers.
Yet this time the father sees his son under the rock. Stillness.
This is temporary accommodation. This is is blink and you’ll miss it. This is three days all change.
This is calm before storm as if I thought clinging to the boat was the best place to be.
You are where storms dwell calling peace, You are where waves toss shouting cease, you are at the change and the decision and the risk and reward.
The alive don’t dwell in their tombs anymore.
They place down their stones or roll them away and walk out, deeper on the waters and confident in chaos.
So at your cross I place down my stone heart, the one that for so long refused to beat hope and wholeness and was satisfied to be still and soulless.
At your cross I place my mind full of rocks, its rigid cages and caves sheltering relics of a bygone age, we’ve buried it.
I place my body, constantly looking back and duly turned into salt statue.
I place my burden, so heavy on shoulders never wide enough for the load, never meant to be carried and added to with each new mountain I strive and strive to make smaller.
Because in its place you give.
In its place you freely give.
You sing new life.
You bring new sights and sounds to freshly wakened senses.
God takes away and God has given.
New heart, new mind, new day, new kindness, New hope, new start, new work of art.
New breath to sing, new wine to drink,
New bread to break, to share, to take.
New taste of joy in day and night
New home where we can set our sights
New mercies morning by morning refreshed New family in which we all will be blessed New confidence to face down very test New faith when every hardship is pressed New body, no hurt for assurance of healing New words of comfort in mourning and weeping
You sing new life. The tomb is empty for the stone is rolled away.