I attended a Catholic Writer's Retreat sponsored by the Catholic Writers Guild, and subjected an excerpt of the novel I am working on,
When The Wood Is Dry, to a critiquing session. One of my fellow writers suggested that almost anyone could put themselves in the place of the character, Lali, who was having the vision. I thought about it, and adapted the passage to be a meditation in the first person, leaving out some of the more specific details. Hope you enjoy it!
Thought I'd include one of the cover options I was considering that fit well with the meditation. Enjoy!
When The Wood Is Dry: An Edgy Catholic Thriller is available now in hardcover and paperback. Check it out on Amazon at this link:
Check out the YouTube video, narrated by Katabelle!
I Was There, At The Cross
Adapted from the novel, When The Wood Is Dry, by Joseph Cillo, Jr., Copyright 2016
Had She really abandoned me? Or, had she been there all along? But, She didn’t do anything? And here She is again now, holding my hand as we both walk, watching an even greater crime unfolding, the Son of God, Her Son, carrying His awful burden, the burden of all our sins, through the streets of Jerusalem. And, what can we do? Nothing.
I am but a five-year-old child again, as the vision continues. I sob as I walk with this mother, onward, bearing the jeers of the crowd, staying as close to Jesus as we can. And now, a group of women awaits Jesus, coming with the cross. They are weeping, weeping for the beaten and bloody form of a man, so marred as to be almost unrecognizable, the one they had hoped would be their redeemer. Holding their little ones close, hoping to protect them from the horror before them, they weep.
“Daughters of Jerusalem. Do not weep for me; weep instead for yourselves,” Jesus says to them. Looking directly at me, His blue eyes piercing my heart like a sword, He continues, “And for your children. For if these things are done when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?"
A tear falls from my eye, making little impact on the dry dust of the road. I thought only of myself. I asked, "Where is He? Why doesn’t He protect me?” He’s not asking for help. He’s thinking of me!
“My poor, poor, Jesus!” I say, my small, child's voice cracking with grief.
The Blessed Mother holding my hand, looks down at me, with a sad, consoling smile, a tear falling from her chin into the dust. My Mother, She lays aside Her own grief for a brief moment, to give comfort to me, Her child. We continue our walk with Jesus, up the hill, the dry dust kicked up from the road mixing with our tears, forming tracks down our faces. We watch as Jesus staggers and falls.
“My poor, poor Jesus,” I say, again, my only comfort the warm, gentle hand of the Mother beside me. Three times, He falls. Then, He gets up, and walks on, carrying the wood on which He will be crucified. And with each fall, I say, “My poor, poor Jesus.”
At the top of the hill, we watch as they strip Jesus of his garments. His scourged and battered flesh clings to the fabric, as they roughly tear the clothes from his body, opening the wounds once again.
“My poor, poor Jesus,” I whisper, another tear falling, and swallowed in the sea of dust on the road. We watch as the soldiers drive the nails into his hands, and then his feet, piercing his flesh, the merciless sound of the hammer ringing out over the groans of the God-man bearing the burden of sin, laying down his life willingly for the love of mankind.
“My poor, poor Jesus,” I say, turning my head away, unable to watch, as the final blows of the hammer nail my Savior to the cross. Unable to watch, lest he might look at me again and see my weakness. How I despaired in my suffering, but how much worse is His. Who is there to stop this? No one.
The soldiers strain and grunt as they raise the cross, the wooden thud of it falling into place like the sound of a body falling dead to the floor, the sign atop the cross, “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews,” in mocking tribute.
“My God, my God,” Jesus says, gasping for another breath, “Why have you forsaken me?”
He felt abandoned. Like me! Oh, my Jesus! My poor, poor Jesus!
I sob uncontrollably now, my little body heaving as I weep so bitterly. The hand I feel on my shoulder, my Mother’s hand, His mother’s hand, warm and tender, love in the sadness, hope in despair. I look up and see my Mother through my tears.
“Do not cry,” She says, her sad, comforting smile like an embrace. “You know this must be.”
“My poor, poor Jesus,” I choke out, between sobs.
"He was with you, through it all, just as you are here with Him now, through it all. And, I, I was with each of you the whole time, at the cross."
I look up through the blur of my tears at my Mother, smiling sadly through Her own tears as she says, “Jesus' suffering is not in vain. You know this. Nor, is your suffering. Your faith will be rewarded.”
I feel the Blessed Mother's arms wrap around me, like a warm blanket when coming in from the cold.
“My poor, poor Jesus,” I whisper in her ear.
As dusk approaches, I glimpse the soldiers coming, dragging His lifeless body, the red of His blood a swirl in my tears. They lay His beaten, bloody body across my Mother’s lap, His mother’s lap. The Blessed Mother looks up toward the heavens in grief, as if she is offering her son to the Father in heaven as a sacrifice. And, for a moment, I see my own body, lain across this Mother's lap. The world swirls, and I am back there, where it all happened, all the anguish of my suffering upon me, the terror, the despair, the abandonment, and then, the crushing weight of the sins of mankind like a cross on my shoulders. I spin and as I fall I see Them, the Mother of God, and Her Child, hand in hand, weeping, spinning, swirling.
And, then, once more, the Lord of Lords, lying bloody across my Mother's lap, His mother's lap. And, transfixed by the awesome, solemn beauty of this Mother's grief, and humble submission, I shield my eyes against the dazzling light that surrounds Her. The sword pierces my heart again, as I share for a moment the full measure of this Mother's sorrows, and my soul staggers with the certainty.
He was with me through it all, as I am with Him now, and She, She was with each of us, at the cross of our suffering.
I dare to approach this, my Mother, His mother, and the body of the Son of God. I take Jesus' bloody, wounded hand in my little hands, and trace my finger around the wound.
“My poor, poor Jesus,” I whisper.