Pilate at the Cross

My old comrade-in-arms arrived yesterday,
Cornelius, to visit by this calm bay:
While communing with my soul along the beach,
He came with joy and love destined to teach
This ex-præfect about the truth and th' way.
Alas, a respite momentarily
From dreaming darkly and contrarily.

For many nights I've dreamed in polychrome:
Out of Judea I returned to Rome
To cheering, waving crowds in voices choral
And they anointed me with a thorny laurel.
Before my eyes dissolved this hopeful dream
And all I could sense was my silent scream
As I looked down at a shouting mob of faces
From many different and alien races.
They looked up, cursed my life and damned my soul.
I sighed so deep outstretched upon a pole --
My just deserts, they said, for my high crime.
Then one came, with wrists impaled and eyes sublime.
And the mob was still and they become my loss
As he stretched to bring me down from that rough cross.

But now Cornelius told me joyfully about
The happening that made him so devout.
It was a visit in Judea by
A disciple of the Jesus whom I crucified,
One Simon Peter who arrived on orders
From a dream to cross th' unholy borders
Into Cornelius' home and there announce
The news of Jesus' ministry that surmounts
Our earthly lives and raises us from death!
My friend believes that God became a breath
Of earthly living, human lowliness
Humiliated in holiness.
What sort of God allows himself to die?
'Twas he, the very same, I ordered crucified!

My dream, my dream returned like a thundering tide
Accusing me of being a deicide!
No longer cheering, waving crowds in Rome:
But like the ticking of a metronome,
They shouted "crucify him! crucify him!"
And Rome expected me to pacify them!

The hammering, the hammering and screams,
Agonized and cruel, haunt my dreams:
"Forgive them, Abba, ignorant are they
That You, and only You they should obey."
He hangs up there; he moans and groans in pain
Excruciatingly in blood red stain:
Cornelius reported even I --
Who ordered th' Uncreated One to die --
This God enfleshed forgave to reconcile
Myself to God and end my soul's exile!

The mockers, scared and disappointed,
Their hopes and reality disjointed,
Ridicule him, hurling taunts and teases
Mercilessly so his pain increases:
"Today, you'll be with me in paradise."
How so? What god becomes a sacrifice --
A pathetic, broken heap of flesh and bones,
Assaulted by words as brutally as stones?
What scandal this if he were truly God.
How mad Cornelius must be to trod
In such a desperate and hopeless path
That leads to bearing every person's wrath!

I dreamed I followed him upon the tree
And my Procula, a wondering refugee,
Was tossed from land to land, rejected
By friends, by family neglected.
"Behold thy son!" "Behold thy mother!" said he.
Surrounded by his aura is she ready?

Then darkness crept across the azure sky.
The cross' shadow draped a world awry.
"My God, my God, O why have you forsaken me!"
Why, O why so cruelly have you awaken me
To whom and what I truly am?
In darkness I'm like that slaughtered lamb!

I'm drained so utterly, so thoroughly cursed.
His blood and water out poured for me: "I thirst."
I lift up th' sponge, so weak and useless
And all my logic left excuseless;
Just love is th' only logic, th' only reason
And I succumbed to faithless Panic's treason!

The emptiness! The emptiness! A hole
Is growing, eating into th' cosmic soul:
O! Death triumphs and "It is finished!"
O! Life is totally diminished!

I shiver at the day time midnight.
'Tis I who extinguished his shiny light:
Behold that filthy, stinking, smelly hill,
As all the cosmos held its breathe, was still.
"O Abba, I commend my spirit's care
Into Your hands," echoed in th' silent air
And reverberated through the rocks and ground
And even Nature's laws became unbound.

My dream, my dream no longer is a dream,
But 'tis a silent, ever present scream.
For though I sat afar in mine own palace,
I, even I, have drunk from his own chalice.
And now, ... now no longer am I untouched
Since I was there and to Love my heart is clutched.

Amen.

©2000, John A. Mills