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The Palace

The Holy Week story begs many questions and imaginings

By Carolyn Pogue

During Holy Week, I imagine how it was. It's easy to travel back in my mind whenever I watch the news and see the pictures, as well as read my journal and the biblical story. I sometimes wonder if we'll ever really understand what it was all about — what it is all about? After a visit to Israel and Palestine one time, I wrote The Palace.

The guide says we are going to Caiphus’ palace
where Jesus was imprisoned.

On the street
we pass a father and son
loading lamb carcasses onto
a hand cart.
Somewhere, a rooster crows.

We walk through the cold palace remains.
I wish I’d brought a sweater.

Even if this is not the real place
(my United Church heart is cautious)
it must have been nearby,
where Jesus stood
alone
abandoned
scared
in a place like this
harrowing
holy
horrid.

I pause a moment, step away from the guide.
I need to just be here.

Back on the street
the cart with the lambs has gone
leaving a trail of blood
on the cold grey cobblestones.


As always, I enter the Holy Week story with questions, imaginings. I see Jesus taking one faltering step along the cobblestones leading out of Jerusalem, and I go to stand among the crowd. I see women and men who sneer, mock and call out for him to save himself. I see the silent disciples, hearts beating wildly in terror, shame and disbelief. I watch the soldiers, prodding him to hurry so they can get it over with and go home for the day.

I see Mary, his mother, Mary Magdalene and the other women. Their eyes never leave him. They are willing him to know that he is not alone. Not alone.

I watch Veronica bravely stepping forward to wipe his bloody, sweat-streaked face with her veil. I see Simon of Cyrene help to carry his cross when he falls on the cruel stones.

I look up and see the dark clouds blowing in to cover the bright day. I feel the wind pick up and whirl dust in tiny twisters.

And then I notice someone new. She is Mother Earth, walking beside Jesus, carrying her own cross. I see her leaving her own trail of tears and blood, sharing what it is to carry the weight of the world, sadness, forgiveness and hope all together in her heart.

I do not follow all the way up the hill but stand rooted and watch. I picture them walking up the hill to the Place of the Skull. I cannot tell if they acknowledge one another or share strength on this brutal journey. I wonder if they are thinking about what will happen after the nails are pounded in.

I will stay here for the duration. I will pray for hallelujahs.


Author's photo
Carolyn Pogue is a longtime Observer contributor. New posts of The Pogue Blog will appear on the first and third Thursday of the month. For more information on Carolyn Pogue, visit www.carolynpogue.ca..
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