All Things New: A Passiontide Reflection
Let us who are blind feel your face, the true Green Man, carved in the wood. But the green that you gave to the springtime, the green that you gave to the turning seasons of this world, the turning of the wheel would not give back to you. The trees which you made to blossom and to bear leaves would not give life to you, but bring your death. In return for the green that you gave to them, scarlet was your only answer. It drained you, drained you out.
Your blood was that which lent life to all things. And yet you were rent raw, raw like the stripped bark of winter, eaten by the deer, stripped off by lash, penetrated by thorn, the thorn of lost love, but love freely given, love shunted aside. The light came and it penetrated the darkness, it wounded the darkness, and the darkness screamed. And in screaming, all the world shook to its foundations. It could not bear the light; it shielded its eyes as it did that very first morning, the morning of the world that turned into the mourning of tears and lamentations
For humanity was born of God’s own womb, and we knew Him. We saw Him moving in the movements of the seasons, in the turning of that wheel. We heard His voice on the wind. We heard Him walking in the garden. For we were pure, clean of heart and clear of sight. But we were free, and turned aside from that. And the fruit we ate was of our own choosing. And in our choosing of it, we chose the dark. We chose the lash, and the spear, and the mocking crown of scorned love.
We chose the twilight. We feared the heat of fire, preferred the numbness of ice. We preferred the security that we found in feeling nothing. And when we were confronted with feeling, we rejected it as being too painful a thing, and our eyes were burned. We said let us take it upon ourselves to snuff out that candle lest it burn too bright, and we will be able to see again. For in seeing, we will be forced to tread a harder path. We say we see, so we remain blind. We must kill the candle. We must take upon ourselves to use the freedom we were given to exterminate the giver.
And we thought of ourselves as so witty, so very clever, and we cast the light into the cistern, and we knew it not. And alone in the falling dark, when the world spoke so loudly of coming life, when the universe reverberated with the trundle of the seasons, the light of the world was abandoned and left without consolation, and cried out in the voice of his fathers, the people who wandered the desert and knew the sting of exile: “My God, why have you forsaken me? Why have you abandoned me to the dark? Was I not sent to light it up?”
But like no other conquest, it was in dying, it was in being conquered, that the tables were turned. It was the Green Man, dying upon the greenwood, rough hewn by the highest of mortal creatures. It was this, the ultimate penalty to pay. The darkness struck back for the wound inflicted against it, and wounded you a thousand times over. Rubies red glittered, and a thousand gaping wounds were as a thousand open mouths, all crying out “I love you, I love you, I love you…”
Striped and stripped, the petty games we play continue, and we laugh, even as the ground soaks up the blood and the fire-red ants crawl in and out of the cracks, just as worms crawl in and out of the wounds of the dead. The dice rolls as the Gentle Healer’s cloak, sewn by the Nazareth maiden’s hands, is torn down the seam. There is cackling, and cawing, as the ravens seek out the eyes of the transfixed, the Eye of the Morning. Are they counting out the bones of the One who feathered them? Covenant’s criminal, Empire’s sacrifice, you are despised and cast down by all, and the wine spurts forth from you, as if put to the press. There is no one there to help you…
Swallowed up by our own loss, has mortal breath stretched out like the length of the sky, like the flood of eternity? The deluge comes forth, blood and water pouring forth from the cup that overflows, to the last drop, to the farthest extent, to the breaking point of the Unbroken One for those broken beings who do not know what they are doing. For the betrayer with his poisoned kiss and the Pharisee with his arrogant blindness and the governor with his weakened intentions. For the jeering crowds who scream and spit, for the reed-bearers and crown-weavers, and all their empty show…did they not too proceed from You?
Oh, what has disfigured your Image? Disfigured is your face, unlike that of a Man, and disfigured are their souls, unlike that of Humanity. But your brokenness will give them the chance to mend. Mend them, O God, and put in them a clean heart! Wash them out, and wash us out of sickened, sinful ways! Let us learn to see what we have become, and cry out to you for mercy. Make all things new, in this rain-rent veil of tears…make the tears we shed become our bread, the bread of your flesh, broken into pieces, yet the only thing truly whole. We must feed upon you, and in so doing, learn to live again.
The sun is bleeding out, red as the apple of Man’s desire, red as the sea that was rolled back, red as the hearts that tremble unto the dust at the sight of suffusion. Woman, oh, Woman, who called for the miracle of the red wine, has it come to this, that you must sop up the blood of your blood, gushed from the heart of your heart? Must you once again cradle the little baby you sang to in the straw, who drank your milk in the cave, who brought the star that commanded the attention of shepherds and kings? Must you cradle his limp body in shaking arms, the grown man, young and strong and good…and now, only a shell?
Oh, what would you give to die with him, for him, to let the metal barbs tear you apart instead! You asked him once to transform water into wedding wine; now he begs for water, but all they give him is bitter vinegar. Would you not give anything to give him milk once more, and let the vinegar sting your own lips? But no, no you must look into those empty eyes, that stricken face, you must believe blindly when robbed of sight. Yes, the night has begun. But it is not like any other night. The candle has been snuffed out, yet the smoke still rises to heaven, and the curtain is torn like his garment was torn. Will not death itself tear away, soaked through with a Son’s blood and a Mother’s tears?
Come, rebirth of love’s liquidation, of green’s grinding, of light through mortal wounds. Come, incarnation of the flaring word of sacred flame, enkindle in our hearts the fire of your love. Show us your hands. Show us your heart. Show us your face.
By Avellina Balestri