WHITE LILIES - A Good Friday Reflection

You said that you loved white lilies.  You spoke of them in your parables.  You talked of the fragrance that reminded you of spring.  

So,I scoured the town, raided every garden, broke Shabbat to bring you lilies on Sunday.   Pure. Still.  White.  I'll place them carefully outside your grave, after I've washed the two day old sweat from your face and cleaned the blood at your right side, the drips that cover your hands and those stain your feet. And perfume your body with the frankincense and myrrh, birthday gifts from three special visitors over thirty years ago.  

I'll stroke your hair, all dry and matted from those hours of torture, hours of suffering, hours of pain, and wish that you were a baby again.  And you were such a lovely baby.  You hardly cried, except when you needed food.  And you giggled softly every time I tickled your tiny hands and feet. The same hands and feet that those Roman murderers pierced with the extra large head clout nails - the same kind of nails that you and Joseph used to build our our house in Nazareth.  Those nails that you were always were warning against.  The ones that you would warned would kill me.  

The ones that killed you. The ones that they sharpened to give the most pain.  Those three shiny nails that I heard smash through the eight short bones in the carpus (wrist) in your hand, bore through the metacarpal bones in the left and decimated the talus bone in both feet. 

But you forgave them -forgave them that did you wrong - the mockers who found another crucifixion entertaining, the soldiers following orders, the priests who orchestrated the lies, the gullible who followed you for the fish and the bread, the miracles and being in the know and your disciples who were meant to be friends - one who betrayed you, and the others who fled or denied they even knew you. 

'Father forgive them, for they know not what they do'

I watched your eyes as you spoke.  They were firm and strong, despite the agony on the rest of your face, your contorted mouth, the strain lines on your forehead and the laboured breathing, you remained focused on 'your Father's business'.  I had seen that look when you were twelve - the time that we lost you and then found you in the temple talking to the priests, debating with the Levites and mingling with the scribes.  That look that rekindled your call in my mind. The look that reminded me, of my calling as your mother.  

A mother should never have to see her son die, the way I watched you.  But I couldn't just let you die alone - die without your Father present.  I screamed inside when you cried out, 'Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?' (My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?). How could your Father God be so present at your birth, be so absent at your death?

I loved you so much, and my heart almost tear in pieces when you said, 'Woman behold your son.  Son, behold your mother' as you gave your beloved friend John the responsibility of caring for me.  You were thoughtful even to the last.  

You'd said that you would come back again - just like Lazarus, live again.  But I watched you die, help them wrap you n your death shroud and then heard the gravestone lock you into your final resting place.  

So, on Sunday morning, I will go to your grave and place white lilies outside.  Pure. White. Still and grieve like a mother should.

Catherine Anthony Boldeau is a freelance lecture and writer. She writes a daily devotional blog on Facebook and her first book of short stories, Too Proud to Beg, Too Dumb to Steal was published by The Story Room last year.  


  1. A very moving and powerful read.

  2. A very moving and powerful read.

  3. I had tears in my eyes reading this. Thank you

  4. What a lovely retelling of a heart wrenching story

  5. A beautiful, moving and evocative read. Thank you, Catherine, for opening our eyes anew to a familiar story now seen differently.


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