The Purple Stone

The Purple Stone

A Short Story by M.C. Wallace

  “THE PURPLE STONE” 
8PM   ‘The day He spoke of is about to come to pass. An hour ago My Beloved left with the rest of them, and I know He was on His way to the garden.      ‘I wasn’t able to stay with the others, to converse or discuss about anything of this world, this life any longer. And so I excused myself to go to my room to think and pray. One or two of the women thought because I was leaving early that I might be ill, but I assured them I wasn’t, that I just needed to retire early and attend to prayer. They had no choice but to accept this and so waved goodbye and good night.’ 9PM     ‘But it will be far from good, this night that slips so slowly past. Within the turning of the stars upon the face of Night, He will pray, as I’m certain He is already, with an anxious dread like unto none He’s ever felt before. Here in the dark of my room, with but one small lambent flame to pierce this fear, I find my prayers, while fervent and beseeching, altogether insufficient to offset what comes His way within this hour.’ 
10PM   ‘The moon has climbed into Kesel, the giant eagle, as I’ve kept my gaze upon the heavens in the hopes His prayers will penetrate its underbelly. A moment ago there was a rush of footsteps outside my window, and I heard someone shouting, though further off, down the street, “Yes!  The Nazarene!”  And so, it begins.      “Father in Heaven, as surely as He is You and You are Him, send my husband, the Holy Spirit to invade His senses with the zealous conviction You gave to Moses when he turned to face the sea and commanded it open by Your Mighty Glorious Hand!”
10:30PM    ‘Just now, I thought I noticed a momentary gap in my wakefulness, an odd rather distinctive moment of senselessness. It was as if, Oh!  He has been struck so hard upon His Face that it sent Him to the ground!  And–I’m so cold–He’s covered in–His gown is clammy…I–did they pour, no. Did He fall into water?  I would have thought they’d have taken Him to Anais first. But this is early April, and with no clouds above us they’ve left Him to shiver outside the Praetorium. But something isn’t–now they’re underway again. There is an aching at my wrists and I can feel a harsh tug at my waist. Oh, this must be where He’s bound. I’ve seen them do this to other prisoners. Nothing now. Quiet. But this won’t last.       ‘Sweet Holy Spirit, ever my confidant throughout my life, attend now to the outpouring of my heart and soul. Come the dawn, guide me to His prison cell that I might tell Him He is not alone in this. That I walk with Him every pace, and sense all He Feels, every inhospitable epithet or blow!’
3AM   ‘The hour of three must be upon Him now, and still they’ve allowed Him no rest.’ 
         “Yes, John, you may come in. I knew it was you the same way I know that all the others have fled His company. No. No one has come before you. All of what is happening–and the events to come, were prophesied to me a long time ago. Yes, I’ve always known He would have to go through what He’s about to endure. Well, when He got older I couldn’t, as He gained the ability to wield all His—all His ALMIGHTY faculties. Including being able to read my mind, and everyone else’s. Yes, He did know that Judas would betray Him before He ever met him. He knew that before He ever came to this earth, before He ever created him. Ah, well, that is a matter He will be better able to explain and elucidate to you than I ever could. But you must also realize that Judas was essential to last evening’s events. No, John. You must forgive him, just as I do. He said Himself, “It would be better for this man if he had never been born.”  Have you any idea what it feels like to the Creator to regret His Own Infallible Judgment with regards to having brought a person into this world, who, by necessity is designated to betray Him?  Yes, the sorrow IS promethian, but so is the love should that person thereafter seek forgiveness.     ‘As for the others, they’re all afraid of meeting the same end He faces. They cannot be blamed for this. No, of course I don’t blame you either. The important thing is that you’re here now, and you can pray with me, before I go to seek Him in the jail at dawn. Yes, you may accompany me. He will be happy to see you, too. Yes, get the others and we’ll pray together, for that which to us is merely nightmare, is beyond harrowing to Him.’
6:30AM     “John, Mary, Magdalena, morning is here. It’s time we go to the jail now. It’ll take you a good fifteen minutes to get yourselves together, and another ten for us to walk there. You need to grab something to eat on the way. Oh, I’m not hungry right now. I can’t eat at a time like this. I’ll be–what’s that?  No, not much. If I dozed I wasn’t aware of it. Let’s get started, hmm?” 
        ‘It took them only a matter of moments before they were ready to go, and so we’re off, the early morning dew still fresh upon the Fig and Gogi trees.’
7:00AM     “John, will you speak to the guard for me, and ask him to please admit me to see my Son? Yes. Thank you.” (sigh)         ‘I know He’ll feel better if He knows He’s not alone in this…’         “What was that? The public site? But can’t I–oh. Now?”          ‘Oh, Father!  Father, please!  I implore You!  By all the Principalities united as one voice in singing down Your Mercy, inundate my Lord and Son with a deluge of fortitude and perseverance that He may withstand what faces Him this hour!’
7:30AM    ‘I have to go around to the public pillory where they’re going to bring Him out.’         “John, will you get us through the group assembled there who’ve come to witness His cruel uncalled for punishment?”        ‘Oh, but I know He told me how it all serves the purpose for which He came. That afternoon when He came upon me years ago. I was entirely unaware He was nearby. He’d found me crying quietly, going over in my mind the various methods leading to His oneday death. He’d read my mind as was His wont on occasion, and knew as ever that I’d lived in the light of His eventual execution all His life, nearly all of mine.       ‘That’s when He came and placed His Hand upon my shoulder. He’d never seen me so disposed before, as I’d always been able to hide this from Him up until then. This He knew as well, and telling me so, also said it was one among so many things for which He loved me. Then He ventured one revelation further, with the condition that upon seeing this future scenario, whenever I’d again be brought to tears, I’d not remember why I shouldn’t cry, but only find it easier to stop. I’d asked Him then if He was sure that I should see it, or if I should endure as I ever had. He gave me then, that tender, telling smile that no one else ever saw but me, His eyes so full of gratitude. He told me His esteem for me began before the angels were ever created.       ‘He’d realized–if He made this place, this earth, this Jerusalem, that He’d oneday need to reclaim the souls He’d send into it, and for that, He’d need me. He saw the question in my eyes and answered it. That my curiosity was similar to that which someone far less honorable than I would ask oneday.       ‘I instantly apologized for being so ignorant.’               “Oh no!  You’re not at all like him!  He is a man of base proportions. And You!  You have taken upon Yourself, He Who Always Was, and Always Will Be, a Person still of that Trinity!  And by Whom you are not confounded!  To love as no one else could ever love! How many times have You put your life in the path of  danger for My sake?”                  ‘I looked on Him with overwhelming wonder then as He recounted them to me.’              “In fleeing to Egypt in the dead of a winter night with nowhere near the provisions you needed to travel two hundred miles along an ill-marked path frought with predators both human and inhuman;  by preventing Me from falling into the well as a little boy when I tried to reach for the pail after you’d retrieved the water;  in driving away the viper that came into the kitchen when I was sitting on the floor as a very little child;  in pulling Me out of the street when the Romans rode through so carelessly that Sunday in March when I was only four;  the time we all went over to visit great Aunt Elizabeth and you prevented Me from getting into the poison berries with John who’d had a bright green basket full of them;  by standing between Me and the rabid dog when it wandered into the yard when I was seven and threatened Me and the donkey who’d herded Me aside;  and when the neighbor’s goat ran into the house and crashed into the tabun and you snatched Me out from being buried by it when it fell over next to you, the two of us laughing as we lay there at the look on Joseph’s face when he’d heard the commotion and came in to ask just how big the bread WAS you’d tried to bake!”
       ‘I’d told Him then that any mother would have done the same. He looked long at me then, and finally said a time would come, and here His eyes filled with tears, when mothers by the hundreds of thousands, many times over, would murder their children in their own wombs for the sake of being inconvenienced in their lives.       ‘It took a moment, then comprehending this, I wasn’t able to hold back my own tears, veritably convulsing on the full weight of punishment that this pronounced upon Him. I’d asked Him, would it be similar to the time when Herod sent his soldiers to slaughter the innocents. He sat back from me, His Hand at my cheek, and Oh!  The measure of calamity that I beheld in His aspect then, explained why His ultimate earthly end had to be what it had to be. And even with this He’d said there was so much more that I didn’t know, but to understand that even with His death and eventually mine, my work upon this earth would not be over.       ‘We held each other then for a span of time we paid no attention to, each of us so in need of the other, each of us avowed to persevere.’
7:30AM      ‘When the Legionnaire raised the cat-of-nine-tails I couldn’t help but say a desperate, quiet, “no!” aloud but to myself, and when he brought it down upon the muscles of His back I felt the claws rip through my own soul as surely as they laid His flesh apart!  His Blood flew everywhere though He made no sound, His eyes closed against the pain, His mouth slightly open, reciting a silent orison!  I knew what He was thinking. I could hear His prayer to His Father. The flagellae were brought against Him thirty-eight more times, but with nine multiple spurs on each threshing sweep it tore Him to pieces until His whole form was a ragged river of blood and He could barely stand. One of the centurions, a Thraycian, interceded in His behalf, preventing any further blows, and no doubt saved His life, then went on to say that in his region my Beloved would be considered a hero for never having uttered a word, as they revered an enemy who could take a beating in silence.      ‘I didn’t get the chance I’d hoped for to tell Him I was there, that I was right alongside Him.’
8:15AM     ‘John has put his hand at my waist and is encouraging me to stand from where I’ve gone to my knees in prayer for Him. It’ll take a moment before I finally respond. Upon regaining my feet I’ll ask where they’ve taken Him.         ‘John isn’t sure where they’ve gone. I know He was going to be crowned with thorns, so I’m not going to waste time. There’s a centurion standing by the door to the jail’s interior. He blocked my way at first and said the public isn’t allowed in.               “Let me make myself plain,” I stated. “My son was scourged here earlier.” 
       ‘So I asked where they’ve taken Him. He seemed to have become rather gentle, an unusual quality to be seen in a Roman soldier, and he told me they’d taken Him to the Governor. I told John we must go directly over to the Praetorium, and so we were on our way directly.        ‘We’ve arrived just now and they’re still weaving it, this terrible barbed halo woven of branches of the tornefortii bush. He looks so drained, I know His whole form just throbbs from the injuries He’s sustained, not just to His body but to the deepest interior of His Soul. See how He trembles!  He sits there so silently, His gown soaked through from the gashes all across Him. I keep saying His Name over and over, not for His attention but as a prayer for His deliverance.’
9:00AM     ‘Finally, the centurion with apparent authority over the cohort is bringing it over and is going to make an announcement to those of us gathered here.’
      “Since our high and mighty guest thinks He is a king, WE have decided, in our generosity of spirit, to HUMOR Him. Sooo, little rabbi, you want to be a king, do you?  Then we’ll make You LOOK like a king!”  
       ‘He’s turned and is taking the handle of his gladius–the thorns!  They’re huge!  And he’s–using the hilt to harshly force the circlet down onto my Son’s Holy Head!  O, my Heart!  Immediately, You’ve opened Your mouth in anguish but not a sound comes from You, the blood instantly coursing down Your brow into Your eyes, down Your cheeks, onto and off of Your beard!  My Love, You’re blinking, trying to clear Your vision. Oh!  And now choking as the warm blood fills Your mouth!         ‘My tears are simultaneous with Your initial anguish and there is no abating them as the fierce stabs of pain encircle my own forehead.’      “Ooh–what, what is,–John?  Why?  I feel like a cold breeze is upon me…stay still?  Where–I don’t, understand…fainted?  I must–alright. Caught me. Just stay still for now. I–no. I must be–oh!  Get my bearings.”       ‘I feel so ridiculous, never having fainted before, and now he tells me he’d caught me just as I said the part “…as we forgive those who trespass against us…” ‘ 9:45AM     “Where are they now?  Where have they taken Him?”           ‘To the Praetorium. To the Governor.’  
        “Help me up. Now. All right. We must go at once to Decumanus Street where He will be forced to carry His Cross to Calvary.”          ‘John said that this would be impossible for any man to do after having incurred the magnitude of injuries that He’s undergone. I told him that he had no grasp of the power of God. John’s shocked expression belied the law that we as Hebrews are forbidden to speak the Holy, Sacred Name of G-D. But I told John that this day all things change.        ‘Our God in His humanity goes to His death, and we are called to bear witness to this, to stand by Him, to love Him through to the end of His mortal life and back to His Father.       ‘What a precarious revelation this seems to be to John, as he gazes at me with both denial and acceptance.’ 10:00AM   ‘Without hesitation he’s taken my hand and is proceeding to hasten us on through the back streets of Jerusalem to an open place in the crowd that lines this most sorrowful of streets. It’s just as Simeon said it would be. The din is almost unbearably loud, men shouting all manner of vitriol and defamation about my Son, my Lord, and my God!  I want to hush them all to silence, to compel them to listen to the women who have gathered by the farrier’s harness shop, who cry openly for His life to be spared, for pity and mercy to be given Him. But there are hundreds, more than hundreds…it seems all of Jerusalem is here calling Him a heretic and a sorcerer, cursing Him for bedeviling and deceiving them by his “common” heritage, for being merely the son of a carpenter and in no wise an ascendant to any throne, on earth or otherwise.        ‘Yet they all have heard that I, His mother, have descended from the House of David as the Scriptures specify, but this they choose to ignore. They’re screaming so loud some of them!  Jeering with raised clenched fists and demanding He be crucified!  How can a person be so filled with antipathy as to deliberately seek out the death of another in his likeness?  Do they not realize that were it not for the Grace of Him in their lives, in their souls, in the immediacy of the given moment when they are moved by darkness to speak out like this, that this Grace prevents the darkness from pushing them to be the very sorcerers they claim my Son to be?  That without the Grace of Him they are as liable to become as heinous in the sight of God as any thief, idolater or murderer may be?  How different would this moment be if He were to approach them with His Cross, lay it down, and turn the clock backwards till they were as children once again?  How then would they react to His Person transfigured on Mount Tabor?  Or before Him as He drove the demons into the herd of swine?  Would they stand so juxtaposed against Him here today?  How then would they react when He took up His Cross again and proceeded on to His demise?  They cannot see that this is what they are very like,—greedy, demanding, sightless children who want Him to be the Messiah of their making, to grant them their every wish, not the Messiah as He truly Is.’ 11:00AM    ‘Oh!  But here He is now!  Only a few minutes from me. He–He’s not stable…as if, oh it’s the Cross itself that must be so heavy. And yet I’ve seen Him wield beams of wood too heavy for a brace of men to carry. This must be of a different nature–or He of a tempered one. It is true He never had a childhood illness like so many others; never sprained or broke a limb. All aspects of His human disposition were without flaw or debility, or lacking in some proportion as befitting any other person. He was always as it seemed, steady as it goes, but enhanced. Sometimes I saw it in His eyes or aspect, at others in the grace of His walk or manner of His work. But now, now He staggers under this wood’s weight and–NO!  Oh!  He’s fallen! The centurion on horseback alongside Him shoved the Cross with his foot causing Him to stumble. Oh, Father in Heaven!  Help Him rise. Help my Son in this His hour of need! — Oh, the other one on His other side, the one with the rope around His waist is pulling on Him!  Can’t they see the Cross isn’t budging?  It’s too heavy for Him to move. And by that measure, just how depleted is He?  The beatings?  The loss of blood?  He’s had no rest since His capture. Can they not see He’s lasted longer than any other man would under these circumstances?      ‘But wait. I’ve seen other crucifixions. Not in the making, no. Only in the aftermath. And none of them had a victim who was scourged so irreparably, crowned with three inch thorns, or beaten so ruthlessly and for so long. They’d been shoved around, oh yes, deprived of food and water, and maybe even struck about the head, but none had suffered to this extent, and none were still expected to make an excursion with a weight upon their person, and survive till they were crucified for an afternoon of ridicule and suffering.’
11:15AM   ‘There–what’s this?  They’ve pulled someone from the crowd. It looks like he’s being made to help Him carry it. Oh, and he doesn’t want to. Oh, dear. Hhh!  He looked into His eyes!  Now he’s picking up the Cross. They’re coming now. If I have to stand in the middle of the street to get His attention I will. And if they want to cut me down sobeit. But I intend to make sure He knows I’m here for Him. Ah, He stopped a fraction of a moment to bless the women of Jerusalem who were extolling Him and begging the centurions for their mercy on His behalf.         ‘Now. Now, my Son. My Sweet Yeshu.’
       “No, John, let me go. I’ll be alright.” 
       ‘I can see from here His feet are cut and bleeding from the street’s sharp fragments as they’ve taken His sandals from Him. The centurion who has Him by the waist has now stopped as a bystander has stepped out in front of the one on horseback, causing his steed to rear up.’
11:25AM    ‘Yes, my Hrart!  You see me now!  Oh–no!  You mustn’t feel that way. My wonderful Son!  I only look like this because I feel what You feel, and would whether I was here or at home. You must believe this, my Heart!  Neither do I want You to be saddened. No, it is NOT Your fault!  You could have in no wise protected me from what I feel for You right now. For besides all the anguish there is so much love for You I cannot tally full the score and depth of the fire that burns in me for You at this moment!  Know that I am with You to the end. The very end. I saw you into this world. I will see You out. Oh, but promise me You will return to me!’
    ~’YOU  KNOW  THAT          PROMISE  LIVES.’~
      ‘They shoved Him just then. But He held His gaze throughout the whole of my delivery. Now it is for me to follow Him. The others will follow me.’
11:50AM    ‘God, my God!  They’ve taken His robe and gown and of His own volition He’s lying down on the Cross. Hear me, my Sweet Son!  I’m right here. I stand at your feet. I’m not leaving!  The soldiers, they’ve taken Your Robe away, but why?—oh. It matters not. You, My Heart!  The centurions are coming with the hammers and the nails–Oh, unhappiest of hours!  Be of speed in your pronouncement of pain. Father, I implore You to grant Him a swift death!’
11:55AM    ‘Whats this?  This one just sat on Him?!  For what purpose?  And the others, he’s–the hammer!  No, oh, hhhh!  My Yeshu!  Nooo!  Oh–stop!  The other now–oh, again!  I heard Him!  My Sweet Son!  So much!  So MUCH!!  How I love Thee!!  Dearest!  I cannot help but kneel at this!  No more–bow before Thy agony before me!!  Hhh!  Why so much?!  Oh, please!!  No more!  Enough!!’                   …silence…
       (the crowd is quiet)               (stillness)     (no birds–no insects) 
12:00PM    ‘It’s stopped. The ringing. The hammers. I’ve put my head down when I should have kept my eyes on Him–this, oh. He’s being, they’re just beginning to raise Him on the Cross…hhhhh!  Oh, My Heart!  Thy form lies fastened to a symbol of agony. You rise as one with it, passenger and prey. Here am I, I kneel before the instrument of Thy torment, mute witness to the greatest calamity that man has ever wrought. THIS!—This is “the sign which shall be contradicted!”  The instrument by which You are put to death—will forever after, consecrated by Your Holy Blood, become the forever symbol not only of Your Life and Death, but of Your ultimate Resurrection and Death no more!  Your unconditional Love and Mercy that all may find sanctuary at the foot of Your Cross!       ‘Higher now, the ropes straining as they offer You to the sky, Your eyes upon Your Father. Halfway, and the light of day escapes the sky to hide beneath the clouds. Even they, though this morning were few and white, grow abundant now, darkening the day, the sky and all. This dimming light accentuates Your Blood upon Your Face, Your form, the ground as it never seems to cease in flowing. Just how much blood can there be in one man?      ‘Almost there, they guide it now towards that where it will fasten to the earth. Dear Heart!  Your eyes upon the Heavens, is Your Father there to grant You benediction?  How long are You destined to hang in ignominious shame for the shame of man?          ‘OH, My Heart!  They dropped the Cross so hard into its setting!  Your whole form registered the anguish of that iniquitous jarring plunge!  Oh Father, hasten His death that He may be delivered of this, His agony!’            ~’RISE  AND  COME          TO  ME.  BE  MY          COMPANION        UNTO  DEATH.’~
      ‘Oh, at once, My Lord!’        “No, John. I must draw close to Him. It matters not if they kill me, too, as I’ve no fear of dying. I must go to the foot of His Cross so He can see me. You may come if you wish.”
       ‘Immediately he’s released my arm and now I can come to stand close to Him.’
12:20PM
    ~”FATHER,  FORGIVE        THEM,  FOR  THEY          KNOW  NOT  WHAT         THEY  DO.”~
       ‘Oh, so very like You, My Heart. And understandably so, for how can those who’ve never heard Your Voice, Your Words, nor seen the wonders of Your Holy Hands grasp the tenor of Your magnificence?  Yours is a rare sublime condescension that wraps it’s victim soul round with the piercing light of Your Love, laying bare all its iniquity to be more than just absolved.        ‘Oh You!  You who scale the mountains of Sinae and Tabor, Who hangs my heart on the horns of the moon and bids me to outshine its full aspect. For You I will venture the desert storms, and dare the darkest hour, to claim the smallest privilege that lets me look on You.       ‘His Blood spatters the ground around His Cross, no doubt from His Hands and the Cross, but–wait…
what is,–what is that?  A stream of blood pours from His shoulder down one side of His body, but–hhh, the Cross!  It’s from carrying the Cross itself!  It’s cut through the skin on His shoulder, oh, but more than that!  Through the muscle it must be, for the volume is great. Oh, this must be excruciating!  All of it is, I know, My Heart!  (pause)         ‘Strange,—a gathering of ever-darkening clouds starting to arise from both West and East and proceeding hence. It’s fitting for this day, brimming with the doleful passage of minutes so overlong, His agony aggravated by insects which hover at His lips and eyes. He must be so thirsty and hungry by now…what am I thinking?  There are far more desperate issues here at hand than these.’
1:00PM
         ~”I   THIRST!”~
      ‘What?  Oh!  Isn’t there something?  Oh, oh good!  But, what is it they’re offering Him?  Oh…He doesn’t want it. Oh, my dear. Gaul?  Oh, I see. No, no He wouldn’t want anything to mitigate the pain. If only He could have a little water. I’ve seen Him give water to prisoners in procession past our house on more than one occasion, when the Romans have mandated a forced march of captives from one region of “their empire” to another. One time a centurion raised a sword to Him for having done so, and with a look, a glance, and nothing more disarmed the soldier and sent him on his way. He told me once, and said it would be hard to believe, that in the not too distant future the Roman Empire would be converted in a single day, the whole of it, and by one of their greatest conquerors.        ‘He shared many confidences with me that I never disclosed to anyone, not even to Joseph. Like the time when we made camp with the Damascans on the way back from Jerusalem after we’d had to return to get Him as He’d stayed behind. He knew in retrospect that it had greatly disturbed me, and wanted to tell me things that had been building up for a while.         ‘Joseph had stayed up by the fire, and He and I had retired. He came over to where I was laying and said He had something to tell me, something that would help me understand what was happening, and what would happen in the years to come. 
      ‘I sat up and listened. It was then He said that He’d had to stay behind in Jerusalem to plant some seeds. I listened quietly and simply nodded as He went along. He said that the father of a future scribe needed to be able to recount to His son, and also to two particular young pharisees that His Father in Heaven would be sending the Messiah to dwell among them but that they wouldn’t recognize Him when He arrived. They’d asked many questions of Him which He’d answered, all in line with the prophets and the Torah, and the Talmud and the Midrash. And they’d been amazed by His knowledge of the law, as He hadn’t yet even studied for His Bar-Mitzvah, nor was He the son of a Rabbi. He’d gone on to tell them that His Mother was a devout and Holy woman who’d taught Him very diligently all the time He was growing up. I admit I had to smile at this.       ‘He’d told me that before He’d even gone to the Temple, He’d decided to go first to our favorite spot outside the city. It was a garden across the Kidron Valley up the path that led to the Gethsemane olive press. About one hundred yards below that was Gad Smane, the garden we all loved, full of exquisite, fragrant flowers. He told me He’d sat there for a long while considering the known world and the time that had passed for man up until that moment. There was a kind of sadness in His face as He recounted this to me, His eyes full of faraway hopes for man that would never come to pass. I asked if there was anything I could do to make it better for Him, and He’d quietly said, “No, the die is cast.”       ‘He then went on to say as He’d come back down toward the city that He’d paused at the bridge and spent a few moments looking over the side into the water. The sun was out and played upon the current, spangling the stones that lay beneath. Then, when a cloud passed over the sun’s bright orb, the shade it offered for a moment allowed Him to spy a beautiful purple stone that lay beneath the water. It was partly covered by another stone, and so He’d hopped into the stream.       ‘At first I thought this reckless but He assured me the water wasn’t as deep that day as usual as there’s been a drought for several weeks, and so it had only come up to His waist. The current, however, was just as strong and He’d had to swim hard to keep on top of the stone. He grabbed the purple one, upsetting a nearby piece of sandstone, out from under which swam a small river turtle, all the silt around it filtering away. It seemed to pause as if surprised to see Him and He couldn’t help but smile at it, then bolted for the surface and swam to shore. Once He’d climbed onto the bank He sat and admired His find, a glittering heart-shaped piece of amethyst that almost filled the palm of His hand. It was then He pulled out the small goatskin bag He always carried fastened at His waist. He opened it and sifted out its contents, the beautiful heart-shaped purple stone.’
      “I knew who it was for the moment I saw it,” He’d  said.”
     ‘Smiling, He’d handed it to me. I’d told Him then, “I’ll keep it forever, My Heart,” and kissed Him.       ‘Then He told me that His absence from me was a kind of test, like a precursor, in that it stood as a pattern for a kindred time to come. When I second guessed this ‘kindred time’ to be one which happens when He leaves to begin the ministry He came for, He simply smiled, but faintly, then placed my hand aside His Face and gazing deeply into me, said “goodnight” and rose and went to bed. The sadness I’d perceived in Him sent a tremor through my heart as I’d looked upon Him then, and I knew most keenly I was meant to keep alive the hope of Him and ALL He Was when that time came to pass.      ‘That time is now, and would be in the wake of His death. Now I need that beautiful stone, at this moment, when all that holds hope in me is swiftly growing silent, as if a great curtain were being drawn across my soul, attempting to obscure whatever recourse I may have once all of this is over.’ 
2:00PM  

        ~”I  TELL  YOU,             THIS  DAY,  YOU            WILL  BE  WITH            ME  IN             PARADISE!”~
      ‘How astonishing!  To newly recognize Your Lord and Maker, and have Him in the same moment tell you, you go home with Him this very day!  What soul would not ascend to any feat of sacrifice for words from Him like these. So many Saints will rush to Him throughout the coming ages for having heard Him speak in kind to them. Ah, but now He fails!  His face is drawn and seems to seek my own—my Heart–I am here!  For You!!’ 
     ~” WOMAN,  THIS  IS          YOUR  SON.  SON,          THIS  IS  YOUR          MOTHER.”~
       ‘You would not say this were you to live on as You have, lo, these last three decades. I understand, though many won’t, in giving John to me to be my son, you have given me to be Mother to the World. And You, my Heart!  You know full well no one can fill the space You make within me. Without You in my life all hope for any kind of peace is riven from me. It does not matter if I know of otherwise;  I have walked so long within Your shadow, that without Yours I cast none of my own.      ‘I am but a vapor, without form or substance. An idea You conceived from the foundations of time. I am without definition if I have not You, for it was You for whom I was brought into being to begin with, and any other end or purpose which I come to serve, if it is absent of You, will not survive, for neither will I.’
2:15PM    ‘The blood which trickles down from Your Holy Cross has come to form three rivulets upon the ground. They branch out in different directions–one towards the East, and Asia;  one towards the West, to Rome and beyond;  and this one that comes to touch my sandals is for all who seek redemption by combining their blood, With Yours through me. You honor me too much, my Lord!  For I am but Your little mother, and You, Almighty and Forever, will raise me to the Heavens because I gave You more than Life—I gave You Love, Unremitting and Unconditional.’
2:30PM

      ~”Ille!  Ille!  Lamach          Sabach Thane!”~
      ‘Dearest Father in Heaven!  Hear His cry come unto Thee!  O, do not, I pray Thee!  Do not abandon Him Who Is the most devoted of Sons!  Has He not proven Thee to be Foremost in His every word first by reflection on You?  The origin of His every action first by prayer to You?  Nothing has He ever put into practice, any single thought or deed, without first resorting to Your Sacred Wisdom and Permission. O, do not fail Him now, but return to Him the wondrous benediction of Thy Forbidding Countenance. And grant Him peace in His passage as He comes home to Thee.’
2:45PM     ‘How dark the sky is now from end to end. The heady scent of rain combined with His Blood serves to lend an other-worldly “hear and now” to this moment. His Holy Wounded Face has returned from one of desperate entreaty to one of resignation. By this I know my prayer and a thousand others have been answered, as now He almost seems to rest upon this symbol of His torment and love. O!—hither comes a rumble of thunder from the west; that bodes the sea is in turmoil, and lends its waters to foment and increase the coming storm. O My Heart, I pray Thy piteous torment is soon to end. But what are these that come—O, splendid spirits, hast thou come to see Him home?  See how you alight in multitudes about Him!  Oh, by the intercession of His Father—‘
2:59PM
          “IT IS FINISHED.”
       “Dearest Child, My Son!”
       ~”FATHER!–INTO           THY  HANDS  I           COMMEND  MY           SPIRIT…”~
3:00PM.     ‘Hhhhh!  His eyes–He saw Him!  Oh, see how His Crown is now exchanged for one of brilliance!  My Heart! (sobbing) Thou art gone from me–from this earth!”             (she kneels)

        “Mary!  Look out!”
        “I do not fear this mighty blast rips the sky, beloved Apostle–but beware the ground is turned to turmoil at His Passing!” 
        “Mary?  What—Oh what is–!  The ground!  It shakes with violent convulsions!”
        “Do not fear, little beloved. It is He. He passes through on His Way to Sheol!”
        “Now is not the time to kneel, Mary!  We must flee this rancid place!”
        “Courage, John. This has become, by His Passion and Death, the Holiest Place this Earth will ever know.”
        ‘O, My Heart, how they are scattered at Thy leaving. Thy Father sends down an Almighty Sign of mourning and they blindly run away like the misguided sheep they are. Now begins the “kindred time” You spoke on that trip back to Nazareth. How I wish I had the stone, it’s purple heart indicative of Yours to comfort me. If only I could gaze upon it and see the tangible proof that You had been here, that You had once been mine. For I fear this time has found me unprepared, as while I’ve had so many years to pray and practice for this very moment—I before You on the Cross, You above me, lifeless and departed—no matter all the earnest prayers I’ve submitted to Your Father, they are nowhere near enough to brace me for the empty hours to come.’
3:10PM    ‘The earth grows quiet. You have delivered them. Where are You now? The Angels that You told me of the night that Joseph died, appeared as You said they would. I know not how many Thrones behind You held aloft the raiment You had earned, dazzling against the sky behind it, their softly beating wings so silent as You spoke.        ‘You sent me a Dominion whose hand upon mine graced me with a wonder at so dark a moment. From him I could see in the center of Your heart it’s beating stop;  and in my own You deigned I feel the same. Dearest Love, for that I cannot help but thank You more, for certainly my heart stops with Yours.’ 
3:20PM     “The crowd runs calamitous in all directions!  So many crying for the Galilean’s mercy!”
         “Their cries are insincere, John, and will evaporate with the storm to come. But Anais and the Pharisees—“
         “He deserted them and they all followed him, falling and begging him to wait!”
         “They are weak of themselves to stand alone to the truth they know they should trust. But they must be forgiven this as they know not how to trust their senses.”
          “They run like animals kept captive too long without food and finally freed.”
          “They have failed themselves of their Messiah, and will strike the book that speaks of Him, of My Yeshu, from the Torah. For where they run to, He is no more.”
          “What mean you, Mary?  For surely they went to where His Father always Is, in the Temple.”           “The High Priests will tell them what they saw. And what they didn’t see. For He has gone from this earth, and in the balance between His going and coming, we are left–alone.”
         “Do you mean to say His Father no longer resides in…Mary!  Do you realize what you’re saying!”
         “My Yeshu said He went above this city He loved so much. He went and looked down on her, and wept in great agony for what was to befall her. If His Father were to still reside there, in the Holy Of Holies, do you think then that Jerusalem could ever fall?”  (her question is met with silence)  “I thought not.”
         “Did He tell you how long–I mean, when Jeru—“
        “Yes. But it is better for you, for all the others, to go on as if it never will.”
        “Why is that?  Why not tell all of us?”         “Because it will influence all of you with a desperation. This will saturate your words, and your words will no longer be His.” 
        “Oh. I see.”
        “You needn’t feel left out, little beloved. We’ll all be in Heaven before that time comes to pass.”
        “Well I guess we’ve nothing to worry about then…Oh, look, Mary!  Joseph has come!  And he bears the scroll from the Governor he’d hoped to get!  His body is ours to have!” 
3:30PM      “Bring Him to me.”
         ‘They had a time getting the Tribune in charge to read the permission sent by Pilate, but at length he did. And now Joseph and Nicodemus are fast removing the fearsome spikes that fastened Him so hard against the Dogwood Cross. They’re lowering Him into John’s arms and I still remain where I knelt at His passing.           ‘Oh, here, and careful. Dearest, my Darling Heart. O, so–cold, Your skin a pale and icy hue. The blood upon Your Hair, Your Face, Your Beard—so matted and stuck, having dried…Your Mouth, Lips, cracked and stained with blood, the insects having bitten at the corners. I’m going to get it all off, My Heart. You will not remain this way long. There. The sponge is pulling the blood away with the warm water, yes.         ‘Do You remember when You were nine…the time when it had rained for nearly ten days straight, and You and Your cousin James were rolling in the mud?  I told You both that neither of you were getting inside until you rinsed off. So you both went down to the river and jumped in. Isn’t that when you found that beautiful stone?  Oh–no, that was later, wasn’t it…It was purple and you brought it and gave it to me. I kept it by the window with the Lion You carved out of cedar for me when You were ten. I don’t know what happened to it, though I have all the other things You made or brought me. It was there the night before I left to come here, but in the morning it was gone….        ‘There–Your hair is free, now Your beard, Your moustache. I’ll clear Your Sacred Mouth of all debris, yes.’          ‘When You were five You made mud bread, do You remember?  A very nice loaf. You insisted on baking it in the oven, so I let You. You sat so amazed when it shrank, and when I pulled it out for You and said it wouldn’t taste good, You said I could try it first. Do you remember how I laughed?  And I said, but it’s unleavened and we should keep it for Passover. Do You remember what You did with it?  You put it under Your pallet, and I found it there years later, after You left to start Your ministry. I still have it. I’ll show—oh…Your–forehead!  The thorns, the holes they’ve made—there must be (whispering) FIFTEEN, SIXTEEN—eighteen!  Eighteen that reach–all the way,–into Your brain!  (gasping)  My Heart!  How?!  (shaking her head)  And the rest of Your so very Sacred Face. The more I wash away the blood–the worse You…!          (crying aloud!)
       “Mary—” (crying) “Mary, you mustn’t!—” 
       “Your Holy Face, Your brow, Your nose, Your cheeks, are swollen—all have been struck so mercilessly!  And more than once. My Son!  My beautiful baby!  You were so precious,–so adorable, when You were first born. Little hands, so perfect. Such big eyes. So full of light and life. Now—   (pausing and staring a               moment)–now, they, the light is gone from them—life gone out of them. And half open–seeing nothing. No one. Hhhhh—Your lips, apart, but without breath–or sound.’
     (the sounds of crying  behind her can be heard)
        “Mary, let us take Him–we—” (John is crying)
4:00PM     “This is my baby. (slightly shaking her head)He needs me now. Leave us be.”
        “John, give her some room. We still have time.”
        “Very well, Joseph.”
(and the sound of sobbing                returns)
        ‘O, come, My Heart. I will hold You like I did then.’

(And taking His Face in her     hands she pulled Him closer and put her forehead           against His.)
         ‘At the moment of contact, my head against Yours, I saw the outpouring of Your Love and Your Mercy, You on Your knees as You looked after they crucified You, but full of life and color though bathed in blood, in abject subjugation before the Throne of Your Father, You crying out for forgiveness for all mankind!  Between You, connecting You, like a magnified pulse of lightning, was my Husband, the Holy Spirit, and Your Father the most extremely brilliant, lightspun energy of stars upon His Throne, His Hand—reaching out to touch You. When His Hand touched Your Crowned Head, Your cry became mine instantly. A cry came out of me from somewhere at the bottom of my soul and I sent it to the Angels who answered with their tears, the whole of Heaven opening to send the rain in torrents to the ground. All Your Blood from everywhere, from Your Cross, from around us, from the ground, sank into the mount of Calvary to sanctify it.’
       (Cradling His body, she hugged Him in her lap, rocking back and forth in the downpour for ten solid minutes heaving with tears.)
4:15PM    “Joseph?”
    (footsteps approach)           “Yes, Mary?” 
         “Joseph, He is–He needs to be buried now.” (her expressions were flat)
         ” All right, Mary. We’ll take Him and wrap Him in the linen I brought. All right?”
         “Yes, Joseph.”
         “Okay. John, Nicodemus,—“
         “Coming!
         “Yes, coming!”
         ‘They were so gentle when they took Him in their arms. I’m grateful for that. The Magdalene took my hand and helped me up. Now,–I’m by His Sacred Head. Before they cover Him…I want to put this veil over His Face. I don’t think His eyes will close any further, though–no. We only brought aloes and he brought myrrh. There is no nard with which to anoint Him. And there’s cloves and cinnamon that we need, but no time to get them. We’ll have to come back tomorrow night. Now they can finish up.’ 
         “Ready?  All right. All together. Up!–Good. And–forward. Careful here. Step up and over. The loculus is on the right. Easy. Good. And–down. That’s it. John, Nicodemus, Magdalena, Mary, you will join me now. Together we will praise the ways of G-D, the just judge who brings to light the things that are hidden.”
          ‘I heard them praying, as all I could do was look at You, My Heart. How can I turn away, and just—leave? I may as well try to leave my own soul as leave You. I cannot take my heart, that I leave with Yours. You can return it when You rise on Sunday. But I won’t be able to do, or say—much, of anything till then, till I see, and hold You. Then.” 
4:45PM      “Come, Mary. I’ve a room just for you at my place. The rain is letting up and we need to get back before sundown.”
         “I’ve never felt so hollow in all my life. Where my heart should be there is only a void. My entire life rose and set on His. Without Him, I have no compass by which to chart the stars at night. My whole purpose for being brought into this world was to be His mother. What now is there for me to do?” (the tears renewed with a             vengeance)
        “Mary, take her other arm. We’ll need to sustain her on the way back.”
5:00 PM  (INSIDE  THE   TOMB:  WHISPERING—)     ‘Dearest Mother, Few will ever know that I come to grant you solace late tonight. And while you won’t awaken, you’ll see Me in a dream. I’ll come to bring you the unleavened loaf I made. You will be the first woman to receive My Body. And I’ll leave you the purple stone. You’ll find it at your bedside in the morning. I knew you’d need it now.”  
                    FIN
       by~~Mary C. Wallace
p.s.s.: There are many thorny plants endemic to the Middle East, Gundelia Tornefortii being only one of them. It has been noted that a great deal of this plant has been typed in the analysis of a “good” sample taken from the Shrowd Of Turin. Whether this plant grew larger thorn back in the 1st century remains to be seen. Upon examination of this plant by today’s standards it doesn’t appear capable of penetrating a person’s skull. And Christ’s brain has been reached by His crown of thorns some 16-18 times. Hawthorn would be more appropriate a guess, but I don’t believe it grows in Judea. The mystery remains. 
~MCW~

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