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Draped in Darkness – a Good Friday Story

This can’t be happening.

I just don’t understand. This wasn’t supposed to happen, was it? I thought he was going to lead us all into liberation. I thought he was our promised Messiah, our deliverer. I thought he was the Light of the World.

But his light is being snuffed out. Now. Right now. I can’t look, because pain is wrenching through my body and slicing through my soul. I can’t watch him hanging there, his face so contorted in pain, the face I so dearly love. The man who set me free, who shattered the chains that bound me tight, who gave me life and worth and hope. I’ve followed him since that day; I’ve journeyed the land with him and watched as he healed and save and forgave and told stories of such great profundity everyone present would sit in stunned wonder. He was the brightest light, the morning star, the Son of God, but now he is there. On that cross.

He was the brightest light, the morning star, the Son of God, but now he is there. On that cross.

The sky has darkened. I can’t see his face anymore but I can sense his tears. I know he wept last night; I could see the trails still marking his face. His tears mingle with my own and I am broken.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way.

A chill shivers through the air and I pull my cloak tighter around me. I raise my head and watch as clouds chase away the sun. Black clouds, pregnant with foreboding, hanging heavy in the gloom-laden sky as Jesus hangs heavy on the battered cross. Even the weather is mourning, all of creation crying out that this is wrong, that this cannot be right. His were the hands that healed, but he is dying.

My tears soak my cloak. ‘Do not weep for me, Daughters of Jersualem’, he had said to us before, as he was taken to the cross. But I cannot not weep. My tears are an ocean of pain, swirling out around me, fusing with the angry sky and turning the dust to desolate sludge. It’s like night here, now, the sun obliterated, the light all gone.

The Light of the World expunged by thick, soupy blackness.

I bow my head.

Hours, it lasts, this unearthly murk. The sun hides its face in mourning and the clouds are weighty with anguish. And he is dying.

I sense it before he says the words. Some echo of something I’ve heard before, a snippet of something like hope. I shove it away; hope has no place here, it fled away with the dawn. But it weaves around me: a sense of something; a flash of memory. Words of life, I am the life. More than that, though, more than a memory.

I am so cold.

It is finished, he cries, and I cry out. I can hardly see him through the deep shadows of death. But something else catches on the edges of my vision. Something tearing apart. Something rending in pieces, top to bottom. Maybe it’s my heart.

Yet a song of hope rushes through my soul for seconds in time with the rupture in my mind. And as the song weaves its way around my pain something changes in the leaden sky. Streaks of light puncture the great darkness, like dawn painting the sky again. Clouds race across the great expanse and piercing rays of light cascade over me, illuminating my fear and my grief and my agony and all that I am. And suddenly I am standing, standing before his broken body, praying that somehow the light will fall on him too, that somehow he will break the power of death and be raised to glorious life.

But nothing happens, and I bow my head.

Shouts sound behind me. I can’t make out what they’re saying… something about a curtain? Why are they talking about a curtain when the prince of life has just died? I turn my head away and gather my cloak around me.

But the shouts are clearer now. The curtain in the temple, they’re talking about, that great thick one that separates out the Holy of Holies. No one’s allowed in there, no one apart from the High Priest. Normal people can’t be in there with the Presence of God. It is too holy in there for people like me.

‘It’s torn’, a woman shrieks. ‘The curtain. Torn from top to bottom.’

Torn from top to bottom? Rent in two? How could that be even possible? That material is impossible to tear apart.

But the echoes of the tearing through my soul still chime around me, and something lightens in my wildest depths. Is it possible? Could it be that something just shattered apart the power of sin and death…?

No. That can’t be.

Can it?

Suddenly I am standing, standing before his broken body, praying that somehow the light will fall on him too, that somehow he will break the power of death. A Friday Draped in Darkness Share on X

We weep for you 
Our tears are our food, day and night, 
our souls wrenched apart 
We cover our eyes. 

Yet you collect our tears 
You shoulder our agonies 
And you sit inside them with us 
You are torn for us 
But ‘do not weep,’ you say, 
Take courage, you whisper. 
We join in the groaning of all creation 
And wait with fragments of tear-washed hope.

Liz Carter 2020

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