THE TREES OF LIFE

Mikhail Vasilyevich Nesterov (1862–1942), “Resurrection”
Courtesy WikiArt

Leaves are growing on the trees
I have no leaves—my limbs are bare—
But no, said Jesus, look at Me
I am the sun who is aware

There will be blossoms and green leaves
I am the sun who feels and thinks,
There will be rain if you believe
And one who trusts My promise drinks

The dry will shrivel and grow not
Their emerald will turn to black,
Fall and on the desert rot,
But those who love Me will not lack

April is the month, I mean
The day the trees of life turn green


 

ALL AT ONCE

William Hatherell (1855–1928), “Then Came Jesus and Stood in Their Midst”
Courtesy Meisterdrucke

It seemed to them He had entered the room
Had walked through the door they had locked and sealed
But He had been there invisible
Their sight unlocked had then revealed

All at once the Man they knew
Standing among them, suddenly
Visible to those inside
Because in His presence they could see

Like that always, the Christ exists
Whether or not you know or sense
His presence with you, He is light
In the past and future, present tense

He is the life and way always
The sun that shines and the word that prays


 

GIFTS

Duccio di Buoninsegna (1260–1318), “The Temptation of Jesus on the Mount”
The Frick Collection, New York City
Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

These others
He offered them the kingdoms of the Earth
Those dazzling kingdoms
If they would bow and worship him
And of course they did

Then, he destroyed those kingdoms
So that they blinded no more
Dust and glowing ashes
More heat than light
And then no light at all

Those gifts he gives are taken
The dying gifts of Satan
But those that Christ has given
Will never be forsaken


 

REUNITED

Luca Signorelli (c. 1450–1523), “The Resurrection of the Flesh”
Chapel of San Brizio, Duomo, Orvieto
Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

At first I couldn’t see them, bodies scattered
All the dead of war, as if they hadn’t mattered,
Not only soldiers though they were in millions
But also men and women, children—the civilians

Then He came back, the resurrected One
Ended rage, the mercilessness done,
And they, their limbs and bodies put together,
Hearts to eyes and all that war may sever

Those who had been cooked, their body fat
Pooled by firestorms, yes, even that
Come to resurrection by such grace—
He is the life, restores to the last trace

But glorious in reunited soul
They were His love, in love, by love made whole


 

A HOODED CROW

Vikas Sharma (contemporary), “Hooded Crow”
Courtesy Pinterest

A hooded crow sits on the cross-beam
Of the cross on which He dies
But does not peck Messiah’s eyes

Instead it pauses for the tremor
The shadow that slides towards the hill
Perhaps this end is not forever

Crows are connoisseurs of death
It is their business and their science
Although as beasts they have no conscience

It is a scavenger in full
Perhaps it knows the spirit waits
And so the gleaner hesitates

It does not strike the helpless flesh
And this although the end is done
Is seen by the centurion

Who has seen many forms of death
But never did plain nature show
Such stillness in a hungry crow


 

WARM AS BEFORE

Fritz von Uhde (1848–1911), “Noli Me Tangere”
Neue Pinakothek, Munich
Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Did He look like dead men
Mary Magdalene?
Do they walk, do they speak
Do the whip’s wounds leak?

They had seen Him die
Ruin doesn’t lie
Timeless and forever
Not mist on a mirror

Through time and space
Fingers left their trace
On the handle of a door
Warm as before

Worlds to generate
Himself to re-create


 

AND THEN HE WOKE

Nathan Greene (contemporary), “The Roman Centurion”
Courtesy Nathan Greene

What do we have in common
With One who made the cosmos?
Scripture says that Moses
Spoke with the Creator
As one man to another

The man who pressed the point
Of his spear in the side of God
What did he dream that night
In his billet, in his bed?
Did he dream that God was dead?

If we are born to die
We must wonder why—
It seems a futile thing
Into the world to bring
A live thing bent to death

The blade was dry black-red
With the bleeding of the dead
And yet when the soldier dreamed
The man still lived, it seemed,
And spoke

And then he woke


 

AND THIS SURVIVES

Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1573–1610), “Supper at Emmaus”
Pinacoteca di Brera
Courtesy Wikipedia Commons

Can anyone believe that Jesus rose?
For all we know finality has won,
This flesh-machine that people call the body
Is not of God, nor does He have a Son

And yet there is a testimony given
By those who staked and lost their lives to give
Their witness to Messiah’s resurrection—
That those who give their lives away will live

Does there exist existence beyond this
Swift evanescent being on the Earth?
Or does the irony of Judas’ kiss
Reflect the grave futility of birth?

They saw Him, touched Him, gave their own sweet lives
In pledge of what they knew, and this survives