Hymn and Prayers for Palm Sunday, 2nd April
"Hosanna, Loud Hosanna"
Reading & Collect
A Special Prayer for the Crisis in Ukraine
The Seven Last Words Mark Strand 1 The story of the end, of the last word of the end, when told, is a story that never ends. We tell it and retell it — one word, then another until it seems that no last word is possible, that none would be bearable. Thus, when the hero of the story says to himself, as to someone far away, ‘Forgive them, for they know not what they do,’ we may feel that he is pleading for us, that we are the secret life of the story and, as long as his plea is not answered, we shall be spared. So the story continues. So we continue. And the end, once more, becomes the next, and the next after that. 2 There is an island in the dark, a dreamt-of place where the muttering wind shifts over the white lawns and riffles the leaves of trees, the high trees that are streaked with gold and line the walkways there; and those already arrived are happy to be the silken remains of something they were but cannot recall; they move to the sound of stars, which is also imagined, but who cares about that; the polished columns they see may be no more than shafts of sunlight, but for those who live on and on in the radiance of their remains this is of little importance. There is an island in the dark and you will be there, I promise you, you shall be with me in paradise, in the single season of being, in the place of forever, you shall find yourself. And there the leaves will turn and never fall, there the wind will sing and be your voice as if for the first time. 3 Someday some one will write a story set in a place called The Skull, and it will tell, among other things, of a parting between mother and son, of how she wandered off, of how he vanished in air. But before that happens, it will describe how their faces shone with a feeble light and how the son was moved to say, ‘Woman, look at your son,’ then to a friend nearby, ‘Son, look at your mother.’ At which point the writer will put down his pen and imagine that while those words were spoken something else happened, something unusual like a purpose revealed, a secret exchanged, a truth to which they, the mother and son, would be bound, but what it was no one would know. Not even the writer. 4 These are the days when the sky is filled with the odor of lilac, when darkness becomes desire, when there is nothing that does not wish to be born. These are the days of spring when the fate of the present is a breezy fullness, when the world’s great gift for fiction gilds even the dirt we walk on. On such days we feel we could live forever, yet all the while we know we cannot. This is the doubleness in which we dwell. The great master of weather and everything else, if he wishes, can bring forth a dark of a different kind, one hidden by darkness so deep it cannot be seen. No one escapes. Not even the man who saved others, and believed he was the chosen son. When the dark came down even he cried out, ‘Father, father, why have you forsaken me?’ But to his words no answer came. 5 To be thirsty. To say, ‘I thirst.’ To be given, instead of water, vinegar, and that to be pressed from a sponge. To close one’s eyes and see the giant world that is born each time the eyes are closed. To see one’s death. To see the darkening clouds as the tragic cloth of a day of mourning. To be the one mourned. To open the dictionary of the Beyond and discover what one suspected, that the only word in it is nothing. To try to open one’s eyes, but not to be able to. To feel the mouth burn. To feel the sudden presence of what, again and again, was not said. To translate it and have it remain unsaid. To know at last that nothing is more real than nothing. 6 ‘It is finished,’ he said. You could hear him say it, the words almost a whisper, then not even that, but an echo so faint it seemed no longer to come from him, but from elsewhere. This was his moment, his final moment. “It is finished,” he said into a vastness that led to an even greater vastness, and yet all of it within him. He contained it all. That was the miracle, to be both large and small in the same instant, to be like us, but more so, then finally to give up the ghost, which is what happened. And from the storm that swirled a formal nakedness took shape, the truth of disguise and the mask of belief were joined forever. 7 Back down these stairs to the same scene, to the moon, the stars, the night wind. Hours pass and only the harp off in the distance and the wind moving through it. And soon the sun’s gray disk, darkened by clouds, sailing above. And beyond, as always, the sea of endless transparence, of utmost calm, a place of constant beginning that has within it what no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, what no hand has touched, what has not arisen in the human heart. To that place, to the keeper of that place, I commit myself.
To Pray for
Peace among all nations - and an end to the ongoing war between the Ukraine and Russia.
To all the victims and families of mass shootings
Lord Jesus for his sacrifice