At the beginning of Lent we watched as Jesus climbed a mountain and was transfigured. Now, at the end of Lent, we will watch as he climbs another mountain, Olivet, to the Garden called Gethsemene. Rowan Williams wrote about how these two mountains not only frame our Lent, but also define our lives in the world:
In this beautiful poem, Gethsemane, Williams reflects on how the olive trees in Gethsemane, with their twisted trunks and branches, represent the suffering that took place here two millennia ago. He then compares the cracked bark of the trees to the cracks in the Wailing Wall, "the broad stones packed by the hand of God," in which the devout leave "little messages to fill the cracks." He concludes by reflecting on the fact that some of these trees were there 2000 years ago, and hold in themselves the memory of "the densest word of all, abba."
As S Matthew records: "He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father ("abba"), if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done."
By Rowan Williams
Who said that trees grow easily
compared with us? What if the bright
bare load that pushes down on them
insisted that they spread and bowed
and pleated back on themselves and cracked
and hunched? Light dropping like a palm
levelling the ground, backwards and forwards?
Across the valley are the other witnesses
of two millennia, the broad stones
packed by the hand of God, bristling
with little messages to fill the cracks.
As the light falls and flattens what grows
on these hills, the fault lines dart and spread,
there is room to say something, quick and tight.
Into the trees' clefts, then, do we push
our folded words, thick as thumbs?
somewhere inside the ancient bark, a voice
has been before us, pushed the densest word
of all, abba, and left it to be collected by
whoever happens to be passing, bent down
the same way by the hot unreadable palms.