Stand By Your Man
STAND BY YOUR MAN
Recommended listening: Stand By Your Man/Tammy Wynette/Tina Turner
Time is no more. All that happens now is a separate pearl on a string of moments; each moment is a separate, sovereign entity.
She weeps. She cries out. She stands alone at the foot of the cross. Mary’s own erratic breathing mirrors that of Jesus. Her heart and lungs are compressed, as Jesus’ last infrequent breaths come in sharp and searing gasps. She scratches at her hands as if pulling out the nails. Her feet are rooted to the rock on which she stands, just as Jesus’ feet are pinned fast to the wood.
As blood trickles down his forehead in deep red rills, her mind is rent with agony and anxiety. Her head is pounding with the beats of her heart and she feels so exhausted, near to collapse.
The threat of rain is driving the spectators away. There won’t be any more miracles. He would have done something by now if he could have.
The mockers claque leaves.
Smokey, sitting on his haunches near the Magdalene, lifts his nose high in the air and sniffs in the smell of death. He howls. He stamps his forepaws with uncertainty and barks.
Now large and intermittent drops of rain spatter the dust at her feet creating small craters. Only the Rabbi’s mother, John, Susanna and she have stayed. The others have sought refuge from both the storm and from fear of a similar fate. But what can they do? What power have they? If he can do nothing, they can do less. All they can do is to watch and await his death.
He struggles to push up and relieve the pressure in his chest. She, reflexively, strains all her muscles in vain attempt to help him lift up.
Crying out he laments with the Psalmist: “ 1My G-d, my G-d, why hast thou forsaken me?”
And the Magdalene continues reciting for him: “why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?”
Her life and dreams taste ashen in her mouth; they are turned to dust. She gives not a thought to living. Their lips and throats are parched. He thirsts and she thirsts. They put a sponge with vinegar to his lips. Her tongue moistens her lips. This bitter cup is drunk down to the dregs.
Her hysterical weeping has made her nose flow, but now it has stopped. The tears also stop. This sorrow is deeper than tears; it is the sorrow of the ages and cuts to the core of humanity tearing the veil of decency in two. The sharpest pains subside now as consciousness fades. Occasional sobs still heave through her entire body.
But now the centurion, Longinus, places the tip of his spear at Jesus’ side between the ribs and with a quick upward movement, thrusts it into the side of the Rabbi. Mary flinches at the stab. His body convulses as blood and water flow forth.
Her stomach reeling and finally overcome with the rawness of the pain, Mary vomits in spasms of grief. She falls into the abyss leaving consciousness. Her strength, at the death of her Rabbi, fails her and she crumples to the ground and dissolves into the agony of the earth. Her friends rush to her.
Before long her body is racked by a shudder against the cold and consciousness soon finds her through the chaos of her mind. All of the old screeching demons are clawing to re-inhabit her heart and mind. She suddenly becomes aware that a torrent of rain is falling. The freshness brought by the rain burns in her nose.
Lightning scratches the sky. The thunder pounds G-d’s air, flailing despairingly against this great wickedness. The earth itself rebels and quakes in outrage.
Her companions kneel around her as she takes in her surroundings, again awake to this world of pain and failure. The rain strikes her face and she understands that they are saying that they must leave, but she shakes her head violently in protest. How can she leave him? Joseph has come and taken the body, they are saying. It is over. They must go. She must know, where is he? Where have they taken him? They begin to lead her away back to the city, saying that she must come with them; they can’t leave her here. They begin to lead her away, but she stumbles and falls as she tries to return to the cross against their restraining arms.
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Great imagery. As it should, the story draws a lot of emotion and even inspires worship. Very well written!