If You Had Been Here: A Poem For Easter
If you had been here my brother would not have died.
If you’d tried.
Were you otherwise occupied? Hands tied?
Or did you hide? Maybe biding your time? For what?
A deeper challenge, a grander entrance, a brighter glory, a better story?
“The nick of time” is a good story.
That would do.
11th hour, you’d come through.
Midnight you were due.
Now it’s half past two.
Where were you?
If you had been here he would not have died.
You were meant to ride on your white horse, enter the fray, the dragon slay, save the day.
Did you hear us pray?
Did you want it this way?
If you had been here to stop him dying…
Why are you crying?
You’re meant to be death-defying,
now you’re sighing at the tomb, decrying mortal ruin.
Why in God’s name are you queueing for the same?
You’re commander in chief, we demanded relief, but you landed beneath all our sorrows and grief.
Now it’s you on your knees empty-handed, bequeathing us none of our pleas.
Is this what you chose? To bring only tears? We’ve got plenty of those!
Why are you here?
You say: “To draw near.”
Then you sink like a stone past the brink of the chasm we desperately fear.
In darkness enfolded, our terrors you shouldered, while pierced by the nails and the spear.
You have been here.
You’ve stooped far below all depths that we know, engulfed in our weeping and woe.
Submerged in the grave, then risen to save, upending assumptions we’d made.
If you had been here,
the way that we’d prayed,
we’d only succeed in sorrow delayed.
We’d only evade the reaper for now,
But soon we would bow,
Soon we’d be ploughed in the ground, with no-one to plead.
through you, death’s a gardener and we are the seed.
And this is the path Resurrection decreed.
If you will be here,
drawing near, that will do.
For now to know you in your grace we can face what is true.
“As in Adam the world dies, so in Christ all WILL arise.”
When you appear – and my brother too –
When you wipe away tears,
when darkness clears,
when mourning has cheered
and joy swallows fear.
Through all our years,
here’s how we’ll cope,
this our sure hope:
You will be here.