I stood silent at Golgatha, the Place of the Skull, dust engulfing my sandals, my feet slowly painted in silt. A mute darkness covered the land while throws of mangled wind yanked tears across my cheeks.
I stood far. I stood away. My eardrums, cringed and cowering, still rang with the continuous cannon, "Crucify! Crucify!"
I had stood witness in the crowd, surrounded by thousands in this riot, this scene. They had lobbed their stained spit at him, threw words caked in blood, before cowardly retreating, before receding entirely. Now I alone remained, distant in front of the three.
A square sign knocked lonely and hollow at the top of the center cross. "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews"
I could barely read it. Stale sorrow swelled in my eyes.
"Jesus," I choked. The silence took it.
"Jesus!" I cried.
The violence of sacrifice hung in the air between He and I, the heavy quiet steeped in it. I lumbered forward, nauseous.
The remains of this man slowly magnified in my vision, the stakes still firmly locking his hands, his feet, spiraled thorns still driven into His skull. The spear that had pierced His side lay idle while drops of water and blood still leaked, still dripped from Him. He was mangled, butchered. I could barely recognize His face.
My knees buckled in the proximity of punishment and I collapsed, pressing my forehead into the tired earth. The foot of the cross moaned with the weight of swords and spit, of shame and sweat. I wailed with grief. I wailed into all the darkness and dust.
The bark reeked of our guilt, its smell suffocating.
I arched back and lifted my hands to cover my face, but with them came the weight and bulkiness of cloth. My fists slowly pulled forward and there in each palm were the bunched beginnings of the temple curtain.
I turned to my left, to my right. There behind me lay two long, exquisite trails of what once was, the sacred veil that had separated us, now torn in two. It drew itself over the rocks, into the sand, around the hyssop that had led me to the cross. It draped its way all the way back to the now vacant Holy of Holies, its purpose now limp and void.
The rhythm of my breath choked as I slowly turned my gaping face towards Jesus, sudden realization pouring over me. His submission to slaughter under the weight of the world's sin had ushered out the old, the division, and lifted my verdict.
It was the trade of all trades,
His life for mine, sacrifice for union.
His love for me so blindingly whole and rapturous that he yielded to a criminal death so that my sin wouldn't keep us from each other, so that I would be His.
I thirsted for words like I thirsted for water and nothing collected, nothing assembled. I pulled the curtain over my damp eyes, across my dripping nose and burrowed my face into its purple silk.
When I lifted my head on the hill that day, it rose completely covered in the fresh blood of Jesus, entirely soaked in crimson forgiveness.