Did the blessed mother note the measure of the moon? Ancient church tradition says they came on the same day— that Gabriel’s whispered “hail” shared Golgotha’s dark noon, that her pain embraced perfection and who are we to say?
It was exquisite sorrow to have her melody become counterpoint to her son’s words arduously spoken that afternoon of agony; below she stood mute, numb, to watch his body slowly punctured, torn and broken.
How did she ponder and how could her heart sustain a moment of astonishment, an anniversary gloss, now—forlorn as vinegar; bitter balm for pain. But she would hold to his wine, hard-won from torture, loss,
his new wine of forgiveness, now soaking into sod; trusting it could endow her to forgive even her God.
Listen! And hear the whispers of uprisings all about you, springing not from the blood of desperation, revolt from under the grinding heel of emperies; grounded instead in eastering earth and its hovering Spirit. Conspiracies of roots and bulbs and seeds! And who knows what under the stones the worms are up to?
Since time flies one way like an arrow, the sugar can’t be stirred out of your oatmeal and no matter how long the murderer sobs on the median strip—sorry!—he can’t reverse his swerve, cannot rescind his drink
before the crash. Like him, was Jesus heartsick to find history’s not a zipper running both ways? He who loved eternity—its roominess, its reversibility—as he grew up, did he have to learn he never could unsay a thing
he’d said? And yet today, like all Good Fridays, He hangs on the cross again. On altars he hangs. On necklaces. His death is like an x that rides the wheels of time to come again in ritual, that miniature eternity, that spring
re-sprung. Dear God, there in your big eternity, remember that your hands and feet can never be unscarred again. Hear these words spoken by a body that suffers, by a tongue that will stiffen soon and be gone.
Have mercy on us who love time. May this prayer be a tire that rolls over every inch of the way to find You. May it be a bell which can never be unrung.
You gave me time. And giving that, like a master, a miser, gave away nothing. You knew this all along. For though you move in cycles and seasons, you dwell beyond, outside of time and measure, beyond the scope of words and reasons. This is what you give, then: a center, a way of being, that though it moves, lies beyond movement the way the springs of a well rise far below the moving waters of their mirrored surface where they play and spill like the dance of trees rooted upside down in heaven. How strange it seems, through the looking glass. For I know your ways, am one of them with you. Like needle, like compass, like kayak I follow you as you follow me. And moving, am moved toward you. As you like these waves, make no move at all. Croatan Sound. Albemarle Sound. Currituck Sound. Pamlico Sound. The music of a water wind beyond human names and naming.
When petals from a lavender larkspur drop onto the gray rock on the mantel, I let them stay where they fall, next to the empty vase,
shocking myself later, chilled in bone and flesh by dead blossoms on cold stone beside a vessel, powerless.
Study war no more
Mar 18, 2011
Michael Izbicki grew up in a nondenominational church in California. A National Merit Scholarship finalist, he chose to go to the U.S. Naval Academy out of a sense of duty to his country during a time of war. At the naval academy he began to doubt whether the career to which he had committed himself could be squared with the tenets of just war doctrine. He got in trouble when he responded no to this exam question: "If given the order, would you launch a missile carrying a nuclear warhead?" After a four-year legal battle, the navy discharged him as a conscientious objector. Izbicki may have to reimburse the service for part or all of his education (New York Times, February 22).