Laid to Rest
The women keep silent vigil,
watching over the sagging, twisted body
hanging limply now upon the cross.
Light and life and breath are gone from his frame.
Stillness reigns, bringing with it
relief from the heavy horror of the dayís events.
Joseph of Arimathea bravely declares himself,
claiming in death what he had feared in life.
He unfastens the broken body from the crossbeam,
careful not to further wound
the flesh so bruised and torn by nails.
What reverence for the tabernacle
that gave human form to God!
Mary cradles her son in her arms as she so often had
when he laid his soft infant cheek upon her breast.
Her hand gently caresses the bloodied, cold brow
and tenderly closes the sightless eyes
before she gives him over to the grave.
(Mary, what were your thoughts then?
Did your sonís words of life and resurrection
echo in your ears?
Beneath your grief and sorrow,
did hope that he might rise and live again
stir deeply in your motherís heart
and sustain you in quiet expectation?)
Now he rests from salvationís work and pain,
the sleep of death upon him as heís enshrouded in linen.
Sweet spices surround and perfume his wounded corpse.
Darkness falls as the stone is rolled in place.
Yet a deeper darkness invades and fills the rock-hewn sepulchre,
reaching into its narrow confines
and encircling the body it now holds as in a womb.
Soon morning light will dawn upon the stone-cold tomb,
warming its icy hardness.
But greater light shines from within,
glowing and pulsing with new life and waiting to find release.
No guard set there to vigilantly keep watch
(and hold death within its chamber)
will stay his power to burst forth.
For he has torn, that he may heal us;
he has stricken, and he will bind us up.
After two days he will revive us;
on the third day he will raise us up,
that we may live before him. . . .
His going forth is as sure as the dawn.
O Sun of Righteousness,
nightís shadows must fade before the glory of your rising
Triumph now over deathís dark domain,
and spread the radiance of your newly-won dominion over us!