Now when evening came since it was preparation which is the day before the sabbath Joseph from Arimathea, an important councilor who was himself also expecting the reign of God, came and boldly went in to Pilate and asked for Jesus' body.
Pilate wondered if he was already dead and summoning the centurion questioned him how long ago he died. Then learning from the centurion he presented the corpse to Joseph.
- Mark's gospel
In the traditional rhythm of Holy Week, today is Maundy Thursday. The scriptural emphasis is the account of Jesus washing the disciples feet. But due to the way I've been walking through Mark's gospel, we're beyond that moment here at The Shame. Today's emphasis is on another footwashing; an experience of others taking up the towel and basin and doing unto him as he did unto the twelve. Because of scheduling conflicts or even religious background, you may not participate in a Maundy Thursday service today. If not, maybe what follows can be a grace that is sufficient.
What you'll find below is a portion of the poem The Deposition by B.H. Fairchild. My challenge to you is to let this poem wash over your feet and heart and mind and soul and strength. Take a few moments, still yourself and your surroundings, and read this poem aloud, twice. Both times, read it slowly. Try and mimic the pace the story presents. This was not something that happened quickly, effortlessly, mindlessly. After you've read it once, let it simmer a moment, then read it once more, even slower. What speaks to you or is impressed upon you as you read is up to the grace that keeps this world. I merely want to help you get your feet wet. I would love to hear of your experience. I'd like to dedicate today's post to my pastor, Ken Ross.
But it was done. And the body hung there
like a butchered thing, naked and alone
in a sudden hush among the ravaged air.
The ankles first - slender, blood-caked,
pale in the sullen dark, legs broken
below the knees, blue bruises smoldering
to black. And the spikes. We tugged iron
from human flesh that dangled like limbs
not fully hacked from trees, nudged
the cross beam from side to side until
the sign that mocked him broke loose.
It took all three of us. We shouldered the body
to the ground, yanked nails from wrists
more delicate, it seemed, than a young girl's
but now swollen, gnarled, black as burnt twigs.
The body, so heavy for such a small man,
was a knot of muscle, a batch of cuts
and scratches from the scourging, and down
the right side a clotted line of blood,
the sour posca clogging his ragged beard,
the eyes exploded to a stare that shot
through all of us and still speaks in my dreams:
I know who you are.
So, we began to wash
the body, wrenching the arms, now stiff
and twisted, to his sides, unbending
the ruined legs and sponging off the dirt
of the city, sweat, urine, shit - all the body
gives - from the body, laying it out straight
on a sheet of linen rank with perfumes
so that we could cradle it, hand it
to the tomb. The wind shouted.
The foul air thickened. I reached over
to close the eyes. I know who you are.