To outlive one’s child, the Greeks tell us, is the cruellest fate.
But knowing a son has lost his life in a noble cause
would help assuage such grief.
Mourning an heroic end would bring some brightness.
Jesus has no final, public glory.
His is the jeering opprobrium meted out to common felons.
How can his mother distil from this
anything but a desperate, aching disappointment?
Has he not failed?
And, in failure, he is reviled, despised, abandoned.
Was it for this she carried him, gave him life,
nursed and nurtured him?
Should she be blamed for bringing him to this doomed conclusion?
Perhaps, if she had denounced those adolescent conversations with his God
as simply voices in his head
(deluded fruits of a fevered imagination),
she might have steered him down a quieter path.
Mild mediocrity has its attractions:
a painter surely may eschew more vibrant hues for monochrome
and still be great;
not every melody needs a symphony.
He locks his eyes onto his mother and caresses her distress.
A current flows.
No longer stricken, his mother knows (we know)
that just to have loved a child is a gift most blessed.
The glory is not dimmed by circumstance,
nor dulled by outcome.
If our children live their lives aligned to God,
it matters not if events conspire
to stifle aspiration.
As his eyes meet hers,
that extraordinary love, which each family can kindle,
igniting in us gratitude beyond measure.