Friday, March 29, 2013

Fade Not Again



Listless soul of mine,
            you dig so hard in the earth
                        to find substance,
            you search so desperately among dark corners
                        to see beauty,
            you listen so intently beyond tumults
                        to hear truth.
Soul of mine follow this short journey
            through time,
Remember!
He hung over the earth
            ever so briefly,
                        like His Spirit hovered over the waters
To give life where there was none.

Approach the cross as darkness falls,
            their work is done,
            His just begun.
Odors of old sweat, broken earth, and woody rough-hewn beams
            clog the air.
Cold are you at the cross,
            it is cold, drab and silent.
            Silent,
                        but for the murmur of the crowd stunned
                        into quiet shock by the extinguishing of the mid-day sun.
But why cold?

Darkness and Death!
            I smell it like the butcher shop floor,
                        chill and damp.
Trembling soul, kneel at the foot of the cross,
            The Cross.
Before you, this splintered timber
            stuck into the rocky ground speaks
                        of horrid torment and destruction.
Feel destroyed?  You are.
No angel choir, no shouts of praise -
            just muffled blackness and destruction.
My soul, He is dying for me, dying for me.

A torch flares not far away;
            shadows dance about His feet
                        like demons leaping, taunting.
Dumb resignation to callous fate,
            always callous,
            once again, old soul,
                        never hopeful;
Hand of mine buried in loose soil
            fingers digging
Angrily grasp dirt and clods,
                        crush them together;
Release the cross!  Release Him!
            I cannot bear it!

“I have and you will - for it is finished!”
            a breathy, gasping, forceful whisper
            from the cross,
From Him.
NO!  Not this!  This is not supposed to be real!
Soul of mine you thought
            this was a journey for good people,
Spending calm Sunday mornings
            singing and praying and worshipping with uplifted hands.
No pain, no sorrow, no death… but no life either;
Just neat, clean little “lives”
            tucked into padded pews (like coffins)
                        so securely no nasty world could find you.
No cold rain on your head,
            or thorns penetrating to your skull,
No bones scarred and
            sinews pierced by ragged iron spikes,
No failing heart rent within your chest
            by the desecration of
                        you,
            Alone.

Dirt filters through fingers like sands of time,
            time’s run out.
Not poor in spirit, but bereft of life!
            “What is twisted cannot be straightened.”
Trembling fist rises,
            crumbs of ancient earth
                        fall upon my head,
                                    dust to dust;
            bits and pieces of joys hoped for,
                        wreckage of new earth.
Look, my soul, through the dim dust falling,
            see the brave feet of my Holy Savior,
                        crushed for my sins, bloodied, dirty,
            so full of pain
                        for me.
A crimson, shimmering drop of Him,
            His life,
                        shed life,
                                    life in the blood,
                                                blood of the Vine,
Slowly releases from His foot and falls toward me,
            falls for an eternity of time,
            gleaming with holy light,
                        a glowing, garnet ember descending.
Nearing, its emanations
            illuminate bloodstained stones
            at the foot of the cross; 
                        leaping shadows dance no more.
Twin seraphim proclaim triumphantly in the distance,
            “Behold, the Lamb that is slain,
            For by His stripes are  you healed.”
Look, O Soul, there! And see
            that drop shed for me
            spatters the earth like an exploding star.
Luminescent, glorious rays,
            refracting from His precious blood,
with the power of a thousand suns
            slam into me!
“Elutriate, irradiate, this dingy soul of mine,
            Glory of Heaven,
                        Living Water.”
Soul. . . turn!   Turn!
            Turn and see -
                        the Cross is abandoned. . .
What now ?!


Beside me,  a footstep crushes
            the ruptured earth;
A Radiance, irresistible,
            ceases my shivering.
“My Lord!” 
Soul, take His hand. . . now!
            He raises me up. . .
“Lord, can it be?”
“The work is done.”
“I thought. . .”
“I know.   Do you feel the warmth of My hand?”
“Like. . . fire.”
            He is burning me.
“All is well, it burns only death, life is rekindled.”
Warm breath,
            like a summer’s eve breeze
                        that sets the leaves to dance,
Incense of Heaven across the earth.
            Rose of Sharon, sweeten my soul.
“O Savior, sweeten my soul.”
“Receive the Spirit”
            Healing, wholeness,
                        Soul, rejoice!
            Lord, my Brother, never let me go blind again.

“O Pure Light,
            enshrined in holiness, inextinguishable,
Heal my vision,
            remove the shadows from my murky heart,
And let not the agony of Your suffering
            languish as legend again.

Let Your agape infuse my soul
            with light for others,
                        bound up in drear and dusky deserts.”

“My friend, here is all the relevance,
            here the Cross,
                        the crux of essential meaning you seek:
            My blood, for yours, transfuses
                        your heart with Mine, My Substance;
            My holiness, ever brilliant and changeless,
                        becomes your Beauty;
            My Spirit, no less certain,
                        counsels eternal Truth.
Look - all is won!
            Behold,
                        Believe;
It is finished,
            Come, rejoice with Me.”

Joy, O Joy!
Faith of our Fathers, veritable;
Glory of my Savior,
            Glory, Majesty, Power -
                        ring forth like steel on stone,
                                    declaring eternal hope.
Soul of mine, fade not again,
            let Him raise you from the crushed earth,
Complete in Him is your journey,
            for all time;
                        come home.
                                                                        . . . by Ken Paxton

4 comments:

John Stevens said...

Thanks for sharing this, Ken. It is beautiful. I have been desperately searching various dark corners for a paschal beauty other than The Twist, and I just found it. Happy Easter!

Ken said...

thanks John, that means a great deal to me... a blessed Easter to you as well.

Eric Wampler said...

Beautiful. Thank you for sharing this, Ken.

Eric W.

Ken said...

thanks Eric for the note