Monday, 6 April 2015

The Good Thief

How did I end up here?
Up here.
People looking up to me.
My whole life I have been hiding,
                Shifting through the dark,
                committing sin, always...always stuffing it up!  
But now I am on display,
                my whole life is open and exposed for all the world to see.
In the harsh light of day, the course of my miserable life is marked out for me.
X marks the spot.
I am held to this cross.
There will be no sly escape.
I am ready to face my guilt.
I am ready to take the blame,
                because I have brought such shame on my family’s good name.
Oh, my deeds of disgrace!

That’s how I ended up here.
Up here, with people looking up to me.
Don’t look up to me!
I am a malicious man with a murderous spirit.
I am a man in desperate need of mercy.
Justice has been served.
This is what I deserve.
I am the one who has done wrong.
‘Guilty,’ I plead, as my body breathes and bleeds.
I am charged with guilt.
My whole being is flawed and defected, covered in imperfection.
Soon my breath will end.
Soon my blood will congeal.
Soon my life will be over,
                it will finish,
                this suffering will finish and I...I don’t know...
maybe when it all ends it will be alright.
Maybe all will be right in the end.
Hell! I hope this is the end!

It is the end for me, and righteousness is right here beside me.
We made the long, staggering journey toward our deaths, the three of us together.
Through the crowded streets where people called our names,
or called us any name under the sun.

‘Sons of whores!’
‘Sons of hell!’
‘Son of God!’ some would yell.
He’s doing it now.
My contemporary, my colleague, my partner in crime.
‘You say you’re the Son of God. Save yourself! And save us!’

He’s saying the words I want to say, but in a different way.
‘You say you’re the Son of God.
Will you save yourself?
Will you save us?
Will you?’
What a strange place to meet a saviour.

How did I end up here?
Up here, with this lot.
A trio: the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Our lot has been cast.
The good one, he got it bad.
Fixed to a cross like a sail to a mast.
A cut-throat death for an unblemished lamb.
The other, his words are ugly; he casts insults and hurls abuse.
‘Don’t you respect God?
Don’t you know this man next to us is innocent?’
I can’t help it. I cry out.
‘Jesus, when your kingdom comes, will you remember me?’
When your freedom comes, will you remember me?
Will you?
Because my judgement has come, justice has been done.
I am done.
My whole life I have been hiding.
My whole life I have been seeking.
I’ve always had this inkling,
                that life is more than what I can snatch and grab.
I want my life to be for your taking and keeping.
‘Truly,’ you say, ‘you will be with me today.’
I’ve never been so sure as right now,
when you are right here, next to me.
Right across from me.
A cross...
Here, for the first time in my life I feel free.
Here, for the first time in my life I know mercy.
How did I end up here?
I look to you.
© Catherine Burton March 2015

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