Glory of the Old, Gnarled Tree
by Paulette Winter
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THE GLORY OF THE OLD, GNARLED TREE
Twisted, bent, gnarled, ugly,
Distorted was I.
At times I felt the good Lord
Must hold a grudge against me
As the mighty wind lashed
Through me and the icy rains
And hailstones weighed heavily
Freezing me nearly through and through.
Then there were times when
I thought surely that the intense
Heat from the sun was dehydrating
Every ounce of strength from my
Dry, cracked, warped bark.
I felt its hot rays penetrating through
To my very core, not even caring
As it dried up my sap, my very
Ages and nearly broken from
All this torment, I felt
That I just couldn’t stand up
To much more of this treatment.
Then something happened which
Shook me to my very roots.
What do those ruthless varmints
Think they’re doing anyway
Hacking away at my tired,
Weather-beaten, old trunk?
Just listen to them cajoling and
Snickering down there,
Taking no heed whatsoever of the
Incredible pain they are causing me.
What is that? Oh no, no it
Can’t be happening to me.
I fall to Earth in a splatter
Of shame as I realize my
I am going to be used to hold the
Body of a common-law, stinking
Criminal in an act
How much lower must I bend?
And why me?
Use one of those tall, strong, green
Oaks over there.
They can withstand this ordeal better
Yet, away I am dragged in remorse
As they continue talking of
How, at last, this petty man, who
Thinks himself a god, is
Finally getting what
And I -- I had to be the one
Selected to hold this criminal up
In punishment for his foul,
Bloody crime until at last he
Receives the justice due him --
I have never been so disgraced!
The dreadful day has arrived.
How I long
To be back in the forest
Again, even though it would mean
Being wind-blown and sun-baked.
You wouldn’t recognize me if
You saw me now.
They have cut away my crown
And chopped off my branches.
I have been
Transformed into a cross.
Here comes the mob.
My dreadful task is to begin.
There He is.
I wonder what evil-doing it was
Strange, but somehow He just doesn’t
Fit my image of a criminal.
Look at those eyes. They seem to
Be filled with pity as He looks
At His accusers. And He just
Stands there, so calm and so meek,
While they are beating Him and
Spitting upon Him.
He must have been a terrible
Person though, for look at how the
Mob is pressing ever closer to Him,
Jabbing, punching, pushing,
Pulling, kicking, jeering, laughing,
Mocking Him. The air
Is tense as they scram in
Shrill, high voices,
“Crucify Him, crucify Him!”
Seems to be falling off each one and
Bouncing from person to person.
They are going to crush and
Trample Him to
Death before they even have a
Chance to crucify Him.
Not one, not one word has He
Uttered in defense of Himself.
And look -- they’re putting on Him
A scarlet gown and a crown of thorns.
To think that I
Felt disgraced when they chopped
Off my crown.
They are scoffing at Him, calling
Him, “King of the Jews,”
as if it were a joke.
Maybe it is, for if He were truly
A king, certainly His armies
Would be here to rescue Him.
He looks so peaceful, so serene, and, yes,
Even angelic. I just
Don’t understand this at all!
Who is that picking me up? Why,
They’re laying me over His shoulder.
Surely they don’t expect this mere
Man to lug me
All the way up the hill of Golgotha?!
Yet, He’s doing it and with
Such ease. His arms and back
Seem to have the strength of
This is not an ordinary person!
Even in His weak, physical condition
I feel His greatness surging through
My trunk. Someone tell these sick people to
Stop. Can’t they see how harmless He
Is? Whatever crime they’ve
Accused Him of, I know
He is innocent!
These people are mad men!
They’re doing their best to make
Him stumble so they
Can ridicule Him some more.
But onward and upward He
Trods as tall and straight
As any tree I’ve ever seen.
If only I weren’t so heavy. Yet,
He seems not even to notice my
Weight bearing down
Upon Him. His eyes are turned
And we’ve almost reached the place
Of the Skull.
They even have Him set me
Up and plant my foot solidly
In the Earth, eagerly awaiting
His resistance, just waiting for a
Chance to flog Him again.
I would that I could
Fall down upon them and crush
Them all beneath my weight.
They press closer to Him, ripping
Off His garment and tossing
It to the highest bidder.
The shame I felt at being ruthlessly
Chopped down cannot begin to
Touch the ignominity this
Man must feel.
How can I bear to let them nail
This sweet Man upon myself?!
It’s not the nails that will hurt me.
It’s that I am being used to
Bring this man excruciating pain
And I will deliver Him
To the cold hand of death.
Yet, is my agony as great as
He is innocent!
He is pure!
He is love!
He will hang on me!
How can I stand this?!
I feel His body being drained
Of every ounce of strength
As the sweat rolls off Him and
The blood runs
Down His face into
And it flows from His
Hands and feet
Where the spikes were ruthlessly
I’ve often felt that my lifeblood
Was slowly draining
Away as I baked in the torrid sun.
Those imbeciles down there
Are glaring with happiness at
This awful thing they’ve accomplished.
Yet, there’s a disturbing look
They actually look frightened, even
Horrified. This man called Jesus
Has just asked His Father to
Forgive them for they know not
What they do.
Who is His Father?
Can His claim possibly be true?
Do you think He really is the
Son of God?
These questions are darting from
One to the other. They
Knock each other down and trample
Each other trying
From the face of this One’
Yes, He’s the very Son of God!
I feel His pulse vibrating through
My veins. I feel it
Pulsating through His body, not at
His own plight,
But for these people if they do
Not repent of their sins.
He is suffering!
Each of them should be throbbing
With this racking pain instead.
It is not the nails that are
Holding His body fast to me.
It is their sins.
This is His real pain.
His heart is not broken
Because of the physical anguish
They’ve caused Him,
But because of the rejection by
The millions and millions
He is dying for.
“Father, into Thy hands I commend
The sky darkens,
The lightning flashes,
The thunder roars,
The Earth quakes.
The people flee in terror.
It is finished.
The vile, ugly deed is over.
They climb up their ladders
To take Him off me
But even still, they are not
“Let’s be sure,” they say and through
His side they thrust the sword.
Water that has drained
Downward through His body as He
Hung for hours on the cross and
Every last drop of His blood
Gushes forth upon the cold,
He gave His all.
He was buried.
They say someone stole His body.
One of His very few followers, they say.
But I know
And you know
That He is alive.
Remember that this One
Was not merely a man.
He is the Son of God.
There was absolutely no way the
Grave could hold Him.
As for me, they did away with
I was destroyed.
You see, the guilt they felt
When they looked at me was more
Thank they could stand.
They thought destroying me would help.
I am ashamed for feeling
That the Lord held a grudge
You see, I was being prepared.
A tall, straight tree, unmolested
By the weather,
Would not have done
It had to be a tree with a
Firm, staunch character
In order to be able to hold on
The Son of God and
The sins of the world.
And to think I felt debased
Because I thought I was to hold a
The sun peaks from behind the
Life goes on.
Some accept, but
Millions reject Him.
His suffering is not yet over.
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this poem made me cry. the way the story was told really brought it to life, and made me think-how our own humanity and stupidity made us too blind to see the Son of God for who He truly was and is! No, His sadness is not over yet, but the Lord has been showing me that when we come to him, as children and put our hope and trust in Him, it gives Him great joy, because His death was not in vain. he would have died for only one person.....