Strasbourg Cathedral: the risen Christ brings Adam and Eve out of Hell to Paradise.
Is all human suffering the same suffering
– the suffering of God who is a Man?
Did he not exist before all of us?
Did he not live in the unfathomable joy
of endless, ceaseless, divine
love, so resplendent that it brought forth galaxies
of stars and blue and green planets
teeming with flowering, fluttering, soaring life?
And when the great joy of his creation, so wondrously beloved,
became the great pain of its falling – just in a moment
from his grasp of tender love – seeing it, feeling it, sensing it collapse
in the misery of mistakes immeasurable and immutable,
with agony as immense as the ecstasy
that rushed the universe into being, then infinity was cut through
with the loss of its loveliest part,
the part given freely and generously in
Did he not suffer before all of us?
Did he not die before all of us,
any of us,
his beloved creatures, who ever struggled for the last earthly breath?
When he felt his own skin rip and tear with the cruelty
of the fallen, when he watched his own feet stagger in the forced death
march, when he saw his own mother weep and brave
his pain, her pain,
when he sensed the strong beat of his heart weakening
from the failing gasps of air… did we not all die?
The moment that his love sought for the lost
in the garden of his grace, the moment that
he knew that we had left him – that we were gone –
in that incalculable instant as quick and cataclysmic
as the burst of creation, he reached out for us
and fell to his knees in the gravel of Jerusalem,
his heart erupting with the affliction of love’s pain.
And didn’t he rise before all of us?
Before any beloved human body turned cold upon the ground,
before any mourning mother laid a wreath upon a weathered grave,
he caught hold of the beloved
and saved his exquisitely loved one from the endless falling away,
stretching out his mercy like the vast stretches of the cosmos
so that every sufferer, every pained, beleaguered,
and bewildered human creature who senses the slip from infinity,
who mourns the divide from love’s heart and home, can look up
and feel his presence within and all around, loving, caring,
carrying the soul of every hopeful home.