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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Cross (as in the Cross of Christ) (08/17/06)

TITLE: Matthew’s Silent Vigil
By Glenn A. Hascall


Coarse fingers traced the strangely shaped rectangular hole. Tears coated his beard as he imagined a day of death so long ago.

He had been a willing guardian of this relic and he had spent long hours studying the cross beam that was blackened with age. He imagined a stain where His hands had been and knew that a blood stained back had rested against the rood.

Matthew drew a great draught of air and exhaled through his nose as he decried the inhumanity of the death of God’s Son. Every day the rood mocked his sense of justice and he lamented the circumstances that lead to such sacrifice.

Had there ever been such a gift given to mankind? Had mankind ever been more abusive to the very gift of God? Had they ever stopped for a moment to consider the vile acts their hate had wrought?

Yet Matthew knew it was inevitable. He knew that had he been in the crowd he might well have raised his fist and cried for the death of a religious zealot. He was firmly convinced that he was no better than those whose voices were only echoes of small mindedness and deceit.

The rood lay before him as a relic, a symbol of sacrifice and suffering. Because Jesu had risen from the dead some thought the beam had healing powers and would be useful in the world of warfare. Matthew would rather die than see the rood taken and used in such an unholy manner.

The other monks had told Matthew that he could have been the twin to John the Baptist. His wild hair and work hardened arms belied his gentle wisdom and kind heart. No one, however, wished to bear the wrath of Matthew.

Far too many had raised their voices and ventured toward the Holy City, Jerusalem in an effort to eradicate the infidel, but Matthew had heard the reports and knew that the taste of blood had ruined many good men. This ‘holy war’ had been relegated to the same small mindedness that made the cross necessary.

In the small stone chamber hidden deep within the bowels of the Abbey, Michael read the Scriptures and stood silent vigil over a section of rough timber that had been guarded for so very long.

There was an irony that did not escape Matthew, yet duty kept him linked to the rood. It was peculiar that the means of the death of Jesu was heralded in a way that His resurrection had not. The best news was not in this rock hewn chamber, but was active and living and willing to wrest the failure of humanity from the hearts of mankind.

The rood had caused Matthew and others of his order to focus their attention on an instrument of death. Yet, the blessed Jesu had tasted death and found it offensive. Long hours in prayer and reading had caused Matthew to consider something more important than the cross beam of Jesu’s execution.

Jesus was alive; yes He dwelt with men in the chasm of an Abbey, but He was alive and pursued the hearts of mankind with something other than a sword.

Yet, with a crusade taking the lives of friend and foe in equal measure the heart of Jesu must reside in tatters, for His lessons of life had fallen on deaf ears once more.

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This article has been read 1075 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 08/25/06
I was wondering if someone would take this approach, and glad that you gave us this intriguing character. Excellent writing.

There were a few places where I think I might have hyphenated some compound adjectives: blood-stained and rock-hewn stand out. Such a minor quibble, though.

I like the fact that you used "relic" both literally and symbolically. Very, very good.
Rachel Rudd 08/26/06
This took me a bit to get...but that's problem because I'm tired and a bit thick-headed. You also taught me a couple of words I didn't know. Very interesting take on the topic!
Joanne Sher 08/28/06
What beautiful, beautiful language!! You paint an amazing portrait - nay, a masterpiece, with your words. I feel, however, like there is a "true" story behind this that I am unfamiliar with - probably because of my woeful lack of information on church history. (Or maybe not!) I am VERY curious as to the origins of this (unless, of course, it is made up!). Thank you for this wonderful picture!
Corinne Smelker 08/28/06
Glenn, when I initially read this I thought it might be yours - well done! Well crafted and a good take on the topic
Rita Garcia08/28/06
You touched my heart with this vivid picture,love the language, mastercrafted!!
Trina Courtenay08/28/06
I've learned something new today - thank-you.
Beth Muehlhausen08/28/06
Loved the intro. And this was a vocab lesson for me....I learned the meaning of "rood!"

My favorite line: "...He was alive and pursued the hearts of mankind with something other than a sword."

Phyllis Inniss08/28/06
Beautiful writing. I was glad to read a bit of Church history.
Shari Armstrong 08/28/06
Well told, an interesting take. I like the tie in to the Crusades, felt like it could have been a flash back scene in Indiana Jones :)
Melanie Kerr 08/29/06
The last prargraph tears at the heart. So many people so things in the name of God and they are not godly acts at all.

That was an excellent read.

T. F. Chezum08/30/06
Well crafted and vivid. A good read.
Teri Wilson08/30/06
Glenn, I really enjoyed this entry. I thought the angle you took on the topic was very creative. I especially liked the paragraph where you mentioned that people were more focused on how Christ died than how he was resurrected. Also, I love the way the narrator referred to Jesus as Jesu. I was a bit distracted because I did not know what rood meant (but that's my problem, not yours. ha!!) Great work.
Pat Guy 08/30/06
Wow Glenn - this is excellent! Every word was so well crafted. And it's so poignant and sombering because it still is a picture of today. Sad.
Jan Ross08/30/06
Yes! Yes! Yes! Beautiful work with a somber tone yet communicating a sad truth of today -- focus on the death while the victory won seemingly ignored. No wonder you're a "master" -- this is masterfully done! :)