Have you thought much about that cry? A meditation

Then last night, I was somewhere near Virginia
Rebuking Satan with ironic faithfulness.
Then Satan turned to me:
“Have you thought much about that cry?
‘Eloi, Eloi –‘
Have you thought much about that cry?
‘Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?’”

(from “Dorothy,” by mewithoutYou)

Words fill and illuminate concepts like candles in a cave; but how to light up a cave infinitely large? Pile the words on, stoke the fire brighter; when will they tag the back wall of eternity and come sprinting back giggling about what they saw?

He had no beginning; no point at which he became an “I am.” Always and always and always back, “I am, I am, I am.” Before the universe itself was set off like a firecracker or sang out measure by measure (whichever it was), he was there. He was there when there was no there, or when the only there to speak of existed as a twinkle in his eye. He was there, he was then, he was everythere and everythen and any/every/omni/ubi-everything, because He Was.

And They were there with him. They were him, they were with him, personalities without borders. The Spirit: soft-spoken, warm, always gushing over some detail of their screenplay. “This cardinal!” “Look at this alphabet!”

And the Father.

His Father. For eternity back, the Father had been his light, his canopy, his foundation. He’d been forever; and forever he’d been the proud Son of his proud Father. They cooked up Time and the Universe and all things cozy enough to fill with words like a Soapbox Derby car in the garage. Whose idea – the Everglades, the tickle reflex, quantum entanglement – was whose? Didn’t matter; they loved it all.

The Father had been there when they were all the there there was. The Father had been there for thirty-odd years of living as a human being: there to delight over the smell of roast lamb. There to cry on, when he first had a body that cut its feet on rocks, brain chemistry that could plummet without warning into the blues, a sin nature that pressed him to break their family ties. The Father was there in the Garden, when he cried so hard his capillaries broke and asked – for the first time in all time and before – if they might rewrite the script.

Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?

They punched iron through his wrists and ankles into the tree. Hammered the thorns good and tight into his scalp. They hoisted him up so he hung suspended on his own shrieking nerve cords, turned gravity into a giant kneeling on his lungs …

… And the Father was gone.

But not gone. Something worse than gone. Gone were the smile, the warmth, the bright cables of joy. Instead …

Hollow, howling desolation.

The lightless silence of a trapped caver.

And the weight. The searing, world-pulverizing weight of their own wrath against the sin that had poisoned their world. Every desecration of their masterpieces. Every decision to scorn their rightful rule and establish bitter kingdoms of one. The pride, greed, and lust that shredded the tapestry of human nature. An anger sober as justice itself, with the pressure and power of the plasma at the core of suns. A red darkness that – for the first time in a history beyond time – eclipsed the face.

In that silence, he became a Son with no Father.

No Father.

There was only the wrathful absence, the furious void, the fullness of silent Nothingness. Hours passed for the body; but what was that to a mind that remembered the arcs of every electron tethered to every atom? A soul of limitless capacity filled with an anger of limitless holiness. The body would find relief before long; the self felt it to the edges of eternal wakefulness, with the clarity of unforgetting omniscience.

There was no Father. Only a Wrath, a Silence. A crushing Justice unalloyed by mercy or love.

Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?

Forsaken. God torn asunder from God. A mystery to give centuries’ worth of theologians indigestion. A gash the opposite color of logic. A scar – a new scar – on the hands and feet and ribcage of Eternity Spoken.

Surely he has borne our griefs
    and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
    smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions;
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
    and with his wounds we are healed. – Isaiah 53:4-5

Image: “The Crucifixion,” by Leon Bonnat


2 thoughts on “Have you thought much about that cry? A meditation

  1. I landed on this page after a walk through your words on The Gospel Coalition website left me hopeful for more of the same thoughtful analysis wrapped in eloquence and metaphor.
    This post is anything but the same, and a good deal more than eloquent.
    Breathtaking. Literal, guttural intake of breath.
    Thank you, thank you for sharing your talent for writing, your gift of holy imagination.

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