1 Peter 2: 4-6 We are enjoined to be living stones, deriving our strength from the Cornerstone.
Photo by Candia Dixon-Stuart
Meysey Hampton church (Cotswolds) has stained
glass fragments pertaining to the crucifixion. I believe they
were discovered in a barn, sold to the Paul Getty museum,
but have been returned home.
Who the hell is that? you ask.
And where’s the other rogue – the one who mocked?
If I say I’m The Penitent Good Thief,
does that give you a clue? Through gritted teeth,
I am trying to process a promise
that I’ll be translated to Paradise.
I’d get there sooner if they’d break my legs.
I can hardly breathe for my fractured ribs.
At the cusp of salvation/ damnation,
I turned my face, to see He’d gone ahead.
Some think my pardon was an act of grace,
bestowed because I showed a flash of faith,
but others say it was a just reward,
because I stopped those bandits – and Gestas
(no longer with us) from nicking gold,
frankincense, myrrh from that Man’s family,
aeons ago, when they were fugitives.
I asked then that He should remember me,
should our paths cross again – one day they did.
Well, some say Christ Himself was a Good Thief,
since He stole us back from Satan’s kingdom.
Do two wrongs make a right? I do not know,
but I am warming to the paradox.
Salvabitur vix justus in die
judicii/ ergo salvabitur.*
I’m a glimpse of your hope of glory.
Hey, you malefactors – just look and live!
Everything else is a heap of smithereens.
I joined Him in Sheol and freed captives,
but, for the life of me, I do not know
what happened to Gestas; nor where he is.
I was found, restored and here I hang now –
unbaptised, but, oddly, beatified,
waiting for my promised resurrection.
Uncertain of what was meant by ‘today,’
but first in the queue to meet St Peter.
Meanwhile, give me a sip of that wormwood
and, since He didn’t want His, I’ll have it.
For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die, but God commendeth His love towards us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
And here is a poem spoken in the voice of Peter, the fisherman who followed Christ:
We had toiled till daybreak and caught nothing,
trawling mercury stains on the glass lake,
but finding them fishless. He stood watching
us: fishers of men, breathless, scarce awake,
with calloused hands. Though His breath caused the world
to emerge, He gave us no assistance.
Perhaps the sight of our washed nets unfurled-
co-operation and sheer persistence-
showed Him fallen men performed some tasks well.
When we’d exhausted our efforts, He said:
“Try the other side of the boat. I tell
you, prophesy that a multitude fed
on two fish is nothing to me. Vast draughts,
miraculous ingatherings await
Much later, on the shore, we spied a waft
of smoke and smelt some broiling fish. He cooked
our breakfast. We marvelled and ate.
He joined us: a fish out of water; looked
the same, drawing His symbol on the sand.
I dredged my mind to find inspiration
to write about Him, but was barren and
no silver flickerings of creation
took my bait. Then he blew on smoking coals,
which I kissed. Their heat took me to my cross,
but not before I’d netted many shoals
of men, small fry and large, for His great cause.