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Be Sure to Look Away
A poem for Good Friday
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Be sure to look away from the cross Today we sit in silent reverence solicit delicate renditions of grief Today we speak of suffering in sentimental whispers Be sure to speak only in the abstract about love and hurt and justice and mercy make sure the moment is beautiful do not let this romanticized sorrow give way to the ugly horror of trauma. Do not give it physicality Do not ask what rusty nails did to his wrist If he could still clench his fingers, or if they were reduced to just mangled dangling flesh Do not wonder how long the hours must have felt or what that kind of torture does to a person's psyche what he had been reduced to as he rasped his final breath Be sure to avoid such topics they are not for polite company they grate against comfortable suburban piety they are not the Spiritual Experience™ you seek Be sure to look away, or you may find the answers you came with are wholly insufficient Your sermons and expositions and certainties feel hollow and trifling when confronted with a pain that isn't poetry. When this is what happens to the body of Christ you might start to think it inappropriate that we use the same phrase for a social club that prays and sings and eats and carries on with barely a thought for the crucified ones You may suddenly realize this divine fire you're clinging to is more frightening and mysterious than checking the boxes of a catechismic formula You must not ask who could endure such suffering or you might find out just how many people have been screaming if you'd only had ears to hear. Be sure to look away from the cross or you may find Christ looks back at you and you might see all the others, too.
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