Archive for April, 2017


It is just a piece of wood.

Something nondescript to be

Carved into things.


A cradle.

A table.

A cross.


Maybe Mary wondered

All those years ago

As she leaned over

That rough cradle.

Wondered why every time

She touched it,

Something burned

In her heart.

A question.

A nagging question.

A memory that hung

Elusive, just beyond her reach

Like a dream that disappears

As you awaken in the morning.

You know it was real, it’s that

You cannot catch that elusive

Wisp of memory.


Today in Jerusalem,

People jostle, mill around,

Then in silence,

They move to the edges

Of cobblestoned streets.

It is a holiday.

But as they watch

The piece of wood bump



Through narrow streets,

They do not feel joy.


They feel uneasy.

A question burns in their hearts.

A nagging question

That is unanswered


Except by the bumps of

Rough wood on stones,

The groans of the one

Who bears a piece of wood

That was once


And now has been

Cut, planed, carved

Into an instrument

Of pain, torture, execution.


He drags this piece of wood

On raw, bleeding shoulders

Until he falls under its weight.

A soldier yells at a foreigner

To come and carry the cross.

He is a foreigner.

No power. No voice.

So he sighs and takes the weight

Onto himself.


Together, they manage.

The stranger bears a cross

He never asked to bear.

The half-dead prince stumbles

The last mile to

His own death.


It is not until the soldiers

Take the wood from the stranger

That he feels something

Burn in his heart.

A question.

A nagging question.

A memory that hangs

Like elusive dream at dawn.


When he straightens up,

And the soldiers push the prisoner

Towards the rough wood

One last time,

He turns to meet the piercing stare

Of a woman.


Her friends hold her up.

Her eyes speak more pain than

He ever wants to know.

Her eyes burn his soul

He knows that her arms

Have held the world.


On his last day, when

Simon draws his last ragged breath,

He will remember

That piercing stare.

That burning in his heart,

That nagging question.


Elusive memory

Will resolve in fine focus,

The picture finally complete.






The instrument of death holds the pain

Of innocent children

Of mothers’ arms in the night

Of prisoners at the last.

The Mother of All Wood.


Some people hate pain

And run from it.

Others embrace its

Cold wild waves.

They welcome

The Mother of Death

As friend in one




Cross at end of Maundy Thursday

(c) The Rev. Dr. Sheila N. McJilton

April 14, 2017

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