I have come to the garden, but he is gone. Am I too late? I see impressions on the grass where a body laid or kneeled. Droplets of blood, be it rain or sweat. I stand up to leave and shudder as the ground quakes.
Outside the garden, I push through some trees. Miles away there is a hill, and another shudder. The ground quakes a second time. On the hill, two men are hung on wood about 15 feet apart. I can make out a crowd of 1,000 and a grouping of soldiers pulling with ropes – another cross goes between the first two.
And the ground shudders.
There is a terrible scream like no other I’ve heard. It rips through my chest and tears at my ears. It is a man who is supposed to be my God, in agony as the cross teeters and soldiers brace it with rocks.
I run; the road and clouds gather. There is a sad madness in the air. It comes not from the crowd but from above. Another soul is being torn in two, another great nation is mourning with gnashing of teeth and breaking of golden harps.
As I draw closer, there is a woman cloaked in black. She caresses the base of the cross as if shushing a babe to sleep. Silent tears seem to calm the man trying not to pull on his nails. Her grief rises in a prayer and for a moment, the clouds pull back around the hill. The sounds above die down as if acceptance is growing.
I reach the crowd but cannot break through. There is cheering and jeering, Weeping and smiling. There is shaking of hands and shaking of heads. There is stomping of feet and yelling from, and to the crowd.
There are important men here, both with shield and with scroll. There are important men in silence and around the poor woman. She will not leave the base of the crowd and I cannot move closer.
Dear God in heaven, what is this monstrosity? I want to scream out but no sounds pass through my lungs. I want to push through to the woman and say, ‘I’m sorry’.
Why did I have to arrive too late? Would she look up at me? Would the man look down at me? Is there anything I could really say?
One more time a great shudder cracks through the spine, down the middle cross. It splits earth and stone. It rips cloth and marble. The people jump back and I finally break through, only to see the slumped head of a man who has passed.
Thunder rips and the crowd flees. A dark rain comes down and washes blood back into the earth. Men gather around the woman and men gather around the cross. I stand just a few yards away, again, unable to move; unable to speak.
All is silent now, except the rain. All is silent, as men lower this cross and gently lay it on the ground.
One man has the woman turn away for a moment. Another man breaks out tools to release the hands and the feet of this dead body. I watch. I want to run to the hands and kneed life back into them but I can only stand off to the side and watch.
The woman turns around as the men wrap the body. A few soldiers gather and a procession carries the body down the hill and around a smooth rock face. It is pebbled stone and mud under my feet.
I whisper to no one but myself. I whisper inside myself where I feel I can finally be heard.
What do I whisper….