“It is finished.”
What did You mean when You said it was finished? I know I should know this by now. But I’ve forgotten most of what they told me in Sunday school and the part I remember doesn’t make any sense.
Were there angels standing everywhere that day, in stunned, silent obedience? Stretching around that demon-ridden mob in every direction, aching for permission to annihilate Jerusalem? Were there 20-foot pillars of brightness right behind Pilate when he threatened You with his power?
Did you see the demons too? Were they clawing at Your captors, eyes bloodshot, crazed with the joy of torture? Did they swarm so thick that You could barely see the humans, that the humans could barely see You? Could You feel their darkness, feel the blindness they had chosen and how they’d lost track of themselves in the blindness; how they no longer knew what their own hands were doing, their own mouths saying? I choose it too, this darkness – I wear it like armor to guard my anger, to keep me from feeling the pain of those I am hurting. But even though we are the ones who choose the darkness, You cried out to Your Father to forgive us, for we know not what we do.
When You said It is finished, is this part of what you meant: “I am finished. I gave all I had to give and then I went on giving and there is nothing left of me now. My blood is laced along the stone streets of this city, along the hands of these people. I have lost myself in this world, Father-God; the pieces of me are scattered everywhere. This is my last breath, the one that carries my spirit away. I am finished.”
It cannot have happened. It is Your will, Your breath that keeps the universe in balance. How can You have died? And back to the angels – You didn’t need them with their flaming swords. You are infinity. You are all power; You are the foundation of existence itself, the bedrock of life. If You ceased to will our life even for one moment, we would fall back into nothingness. We’d all be gone. But You went through all of this and never once thought the thought that would reduce us all to dust.
George Eliot said we walk around well-wadded with stupidity. That if we weren’t, we’d be swept away by the beating hearts of squirrels, by the sound, everywhere, of grass growing. Did You hear it at all? All of it at once? Field mice screaming in the clutch of hawks – whales suffocating in oil – the ache of fathers who promise the world and then leave – the Hitler Youth shouting Heil – did You feel every scream that has ever been screamed, in silence or out loud?
Matthew 27[Stephanie Gehring is a 23-year-old self-employed portrait artist, high school math tutor, and freelance writer. She spent the first sixteen years of her life in Germany and lives in Portland, Oregon.]