Daughters of Jerusalem (A Good Friday poem)

A few weeks ago in thinking about Luke 23:27-31 as I worked on a meditation for my church's Good Friday service. Several of you gave me feedback that really helped me get my head around the passage. So, thank you. As promised, here is the final result.

Daughters of Jerusalem

from Luke 23:27-31


Blessed is the womb that never felt one tiny foot press out and drag slow inside. The living lump beneath skin, a curled child who begs to stretch. Gravity presses even the unborn toward earth’s dust.

Blessed are the empty breasts, the woman who never held the baby’s body against her own, rocking in the late night darkness, eyes closed, bodies alive, both clinging to the other for living milk.

Blessed are you, woman! The days are coming when you will be called safe, you without grief for the tender bodies or the world’s sharp corners. Children crash and tear and never come home whole.

Blessed are you who grieve the teacher’s dying, watch his moaning crawl along the broken road. Blessed are you who weep for his blue-beaten body, his wretched stumble under splintered wood.

Blessed woman, you who wail his torn flesh, its dangle toward earth, you who grasp hope that he’ll summon angel warriors, blast this barren hill with light, burn bright this dried up death. Blessed are you who beg mercy.

Daughters of Jerusalem! It would be better if you’d never held the living beneath your skin, known the weight you carried. You point toward what is taken here: The Word that speaks us into being is silenced. The celestial carrier of hope, emptied.

He speaks desperation. He dies his body. But he is pregnant with mystery: he gathers the cosmic collection of every hopeless sigh, every loss, every hatred formed against another, every embittered soul, every unloved and unlover.

It enters him: the great hot chasm of sin. He opens his chest wide to hold the oozing dark. Weep, you who cannot undo the life you’ve made: the small hands, the legs that wobbled and tipped toward earth. Grieve the children,

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