The Last Temptation

(Updated from Easter 2012) In the spirit on Nikos Kazantzakis’ book The Last Temptation of Christ, I came to imagine the carpenter, perhaps in the forests of Lebanon, searching for lumber and pausing to know the sanctity of the place, sitting there wondering, knowing, what was to transpire and proceeding with the work; A destiny he would carve into the wood.
Being a Roman citizen the carpenter was well aware of the rules, of the taxes, and the administration of the law, but as a Rabbi he also knew what belonged to Rome and what belonged to the Almighty.
In the years of his ministry he cast his nets on the waters of our emotions, and brought many souls to the shores of salvation, yet just as many slipped away. He dreams of their return to heaven, yet knows it must be their will, not his, that brings them home, so he is overwhelmed with compassion and continues at his task. Knowing full well that in the days ahead his work will end in the words “it is finished”

Father please find me a tall tree –
Deep shade to cool my brow
with leaves that reach for sunlight
in soil alive to nourish strong roots

I long for the forest’s deep silence
The place where your work was born
The love of our Mother unfolding
Becoming the life she would give

To the timber now felled before me
To the boards that are shaped and hewn
By these hands now gi’en to your work
Crafting a tree to the passion of Rome

Give unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s
and take not your presence from me
My work is but only your bidding
Your Spirit my hand has revealed

Have I not cast my nets on the waters
and drawn them back just to see
All the schools of souls you delivered
Have slipped from salvation again

Father, Mother I dream of taking
All my beloved home to you
In my arms I would carry as children
Free from the reins of their birth

This is my one last forbearance
That I could not lift up this flock
Without their own perfect intention
Revealing in life what they pray

I have shown them the way and the truth
I have shared more than I have to give
As my prayer is formed into this wood –
Your forgiveness is all I can find

In shaping this cross, your will is done
My work in this world will draw nigh
A memory, martyred, returning home –
many mansions prepared stand in faith

11 thoughts on “The Last Temptation

  1. One of the two best putting-yourself-in-the-person-of-Jesus poems I have ever read! Bless you, dear grandfather. I really enjoyed the emphasis on the trees,the wood, the carpentering. These images really brought the message home for me.

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