Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Garden of the Tomb, October 1983

The Garden of the Tomb, October 1983

by Leon Archibald

completed on Good Friday, April 20, 1984

I noticed the quietness as we entered.

There was a simpleness of rambling paths,

a careful waywardness of shrubbery,

of flowers, of unshrined quiet.

Beyond the trees I saw a stillness surround the tomb,

but I thought to see that last,

so I walked out to a platform at the garden’s edge,

and stood, for a moment, facing the steep stone stare of Golgotha.

A startled cry pierced the quiet air,

and suddenly, for me, it was as

the shout that assailed Him on that hill—

just as they might have shouted when they pierced Him.

This cry, however, was no clamor of hatred, but, oddly, of buses

that revved, and rattled out of Jerusalem’s bus depot

which sprawled out before me at the foot of the hill.

Then the guides spoke reverently above the noise through bullhorns,

and I noticed I could turn around and find it quiet—

so distinct was the garden’s effect of quietness.

                                  ( and there is a moment in the turning,


                                     that expands in my memory,

                                     and in that moment, there is only He )

Slowly I turned back toward the bus depot and let

the sound of it become

the shout of derision that had brought Him to that place—

as He scraped His cross from street to street,

cobble to asphalt.

The shout that harried Him past ancient rubble of stone walls

and Christian shrines,

past the checkpoint of the Arab soldiers,

through the bazaar that is bright with banners and clattering copper,

past the roaring depot, to the top of Golgotha,

where the shout stood round Him

and hammered Him to the wood—

a sacrifice to expiate its hate.

I thought it was right that it was not quiet where they crucified Him.

It was quiet where they buried Him

and in turning, I walked in a quiet place,

through the garden to the garden’s tomb—

to the place where they carried His still corse—

this speechless tomb,      



Silently, I waited while others entered the hollowed stone,

and each of us searched, cautiously, within,

expecting to find the wrappings folded neatly to the side,

the angel sitting brightly by.

But we found, instead, that we were angels,

whispering that He was not there—

while we were crushed with the stillness

of a great feeling of Him in the garden near the tomb.

And in the garden’s hushed and shadowing day we wept because of Him

                                                                           ( when there was only He )

and turning, we walked quietly away.

(the photograph was taken by me in the Garden of the Tomb, Jerusalem, Oct. 1983)

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