Together they express their desperation to the heavens in a mixed medley of pain and humiliation. She sings the melody while tethered to an orb of a promising poison formulated to kill the beast trying to kill her, if she survives the poisoning. He harmonizes while nailed to a wooden post on a bare hill crowded with unbelievers.
Maria, a mother, a maid, and a wife, has known intimacy with man and God. She has loved and been loved, honeymooned, and tasted the divine gift. But today, in her pain, she sings of the distance between her and the ones she loves.
He, the son of royalty, once shared the throne of Heaven with the creator himself, sharing the most intimate of relationships with his father. Today the sky has grown dark above him, the face he loves has turned away. The ground below has opened wide to receive him. He echoes her song.
“Why are you so far from saving me. So far from the words of my groaning?”
The needle stings and the poison burns while it heals. The nails convulse the muscles in his hands and feet. Because of his duet with Maria he refuses the sponge full of gall that would dull his pain.
Doctors pass by and shake their heads. Nurses fill out charts with out a smile. Loved ones weep at the foot of Maria’s bed. An invisible visitor laughs and mocks her hope to survive.
The same visitor taunts him.
“He trusts in the Lord, let the Lord rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.”
For a moment the desperate song turns warm with remembrance. Thoughts of birth and breast, and first visits take Maria from the hospital bed to the security of home and to her trysting place, where she touched the heavens in prayer and worship. Maria sings of trust and contentment for just a moment, then burning pain yanks her back to the duet.
Looking out on the crowd below he spots his earthly mother, and joins Maria in warm memory. How he loved his mother’s breast on his cheek, being engulfed in her arms when danger was chasing him. But today she can not help him. The safety of her embrace is too far away.
They sing the next verse to a blank white ceiling and a dark violent sky.
“Do not be far from me, for trouble is near and there is no one to help.”
Maria has no tears left and her bones and joints ache from the fire of the poison. His heart has melted as hope has slipped away. Maria is dry and thirsty but she does not have the strength to ask for a cup of water. The invisible visitor names himself. Death stands at the foot of her bed. Dust rises from beneath the cross as Death dances in anticipation of victory.
Maria slips in to a coma and others arrive to divide her meager wealth. This thing will go to him. That thing will go to her, and that’s about it. Easily done. He owns only a torn and bloody garment. It goes the lucky one in the circle of gamblers below his feet. Easily done.
The duet rests, and then becomes a solo, as Maria sleeps and he falls in to the hands of their enemies.
Bulls and lions, dogs, and wild beasts surround him. Swords and gnashed teetch threaten and taunt. He sings to them and to his redeemer. And he sings for Maria.
“But you, O Lord, be not far off; O my Strength, come quickly to help me.”
It’s over in a flash.
A deep penetrating light wakes Maria from her sleep.
The duet begins again as he raises Maria from her bed.
“I must tell my brothers!” she exclaims.
The silent visitor is gone, vanquished from her room by his solo, and kept away by their duet.
“You who fear the Lord, praise him! For he has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one, he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.”
This is the theme of their duet before the world, and foundation under their vows.
“The poor will eat and be satisfied; they who seek the Lord will praise him!”
This was brilliant. Poetic...
awesome! You caused time to disappear by placing Maria's suffering next to the Lord's cross. Your words brought reality to the substitutionary work of Jesus Christ... if we can only believe. I was totally captivated by this. Especially loved the comparison of the relatives at her death bed and the soldiers casting lots.