The Secret Garden

‘Walk with me,’ said Spirit, holding aloft her lantern,
‘I want to show you a secret.’
Enticed by her charm and her certainty,
I followed,
the lantern lighting the path before us
as the moon rose in a cloudy sky.
It was a steep and narrow path just wide enough for us,
rocky, and marked with the steps of many previous travellers.
We came to an olive grove,
a high placed garden
rich with the promise of oil.
Suddenly I was filled with fear
and stopped at the gate that led into the grove.
‘There is menace in this air,’ I cried.
‘Take my hand,’ said Spirit reassuringly.
Something in her bearing made me trust her still,
and I slipped my hand into hers,
her grasp surprisingly strong.
‘What is this place?’ I said.
‘This,’ she murmured, ‘is the birthplace of compassion,
the home of empathy.’
‘It looks to me like the start of the story of death,’ I replied,
as there I saw Jesus,
his heart breaking, his frame bent by the horror.
‘Oh no, you are mistaken,’ said Spirit gently.
She moved away from me for a moment,
leaving me with Jesus in the darkness,
and with her lantern she cast a wide arc,
touching the farthest reaches of the garden.
There amongst the gnarled and ancient branches
a thousand eyes gazed out at Jesus-
the dearest, tenderest eyes,
one with him in the darkness,
looking at him from the depth of a kinship
they had earned too early-
the eyes of the suffering children
of all the world.