Holy Week and Easter Reflections, Part One & Two

by Melissa Taft

by Carol Dixon

Some years ago I was introduced to the Ignatian practice of imagining yourself present in one of the Gospel stories and imagining what one of the characters might have been feeling is a good way to start. My reflective poems for Holy Week and beyond are some of my responses to what might have happened from different perspectives.  I hope you enjoy reading them.  You may like to read the Passion narratives again yourself and think about which character you identify with today.

Editor’s Note: This is part of a series. For parts 3&4, click here


Martha reflects …..

Free to be


of course I was scandalised, shocked 

by my sister’s behaviour at the banquet 

we held in the Master’s honour,

expressing our undying gratitude 

to celebrate our brother’s incredible 

return, from the bonds of death 

and the tomb.

At this supper party there 

was only rejoicing – no time 

for teaching, or sitting at the foot

of a respected Rabbi, like lads 

receiving their learning

in school.

She had been such a help all day,

in the kitchen, waiting on the men 

as they ate – exactly what women 

have done in every generation.

She’s growing up at last, I thought.

Then this!

She came in meekly enough,

carrying her precious alabaster jar,

left as a dowry by our father.

I have one exactly the same.

I polished it yesterday before

the guests arrived and put it back 

on the shelf in the cupboard –

the only place in the house

with a lock.

She knelt on the floor in front of him

and broke the seal – the exotic perfume 

pervaded the place, its heavy scent

almost took our breath away.

Her audacious actions did that

when she removed her veil, allowing 

her hair to fall freely, hanging loose 

and lustrous in front of the entire 


Slowly she poured the expensive 

ointment over his calloused feet, 

washing them first with her tears

and tenderly wiping them, as though 

there were only the two of them

in the room, only the two of them

in the world.

It was such an intimate, private 

moment, it seemed almost intrusive 

to watch; till Judas jealously broke 

the silence with his caustic comment 

about the poor, voicing the acute 


of us all.

The Master, as always, saw past 

her generous gesture and looked

into all our hearts, commending her

for what she did, while the rest of us 

felt shamed – not by her lavish love, 

but by our own meagre 


So, yes, I was shocked 

and scandalised; of all the people 

gathered there that night, only 

my little sister, Mary, had the heart 

to act upon her impulsive intuition 

and serve the Lord, without restraint, 

casting aside the bonds of convention, 

letting go of dignity and pride, 

to give her all.





Photo: © Julian Sanders 

Then Jesus took a towel

It was Mary who started it –

who sowed the seed of the idea

in my mind, to wash the feet of my friends.

Her absolute humility, and adoration

as she poured out the perfumed ointment,

anointing me for my burial.

She didn’t care that others

were scandalised, as Peter was

when I first knelt to wash his feet,

yet in the end he embraced the act with joy.

I’ll never know what Judas felt;

perhaps he revolted inwardly as I stooped

before him, offering my whole-hearted love.

Something had changed in him

the night he saw Mary prostrate herself at my feet;

the crisis had been coming for a while.

It wasn’t just the money, it was her utter devotion;

maybe he suspected he could never match that

and second best was not enough for him.

So he distanced himself from me,

from the cause, from the kingdom,

recoiling from the intimacy

that I wanted to share with all

as I knelt with bowl and towel.

If you had been there, ask yourself,

What would you have done?


The Upper room


It was a night like any other night –
a supper party, followed by chat and chinwag
slipping with easy familiarity into deeper things,
subjects closer to the heart.

In the candlelight, comfortable, replete,
a little muzzy from the wine,
listening to words which resonated within our souls
as if they were the words of God.

Yet on that night something was different.
It began with a shock to the system:
our teacher, our leader, our Lord
removing the trappings of authority,
nakedly kneeling in humble service at our feet.

Then, as the meal progressed, a moment of tension,
an exclamation of intense sorrow and pain,
uncertainty among us as to who the betrayer was.
We barely noticed when Judas left the room,
excused by Jesus as someone who didn’t
really want to belong there, and the party went on.

And party it was – with fun and laughter, 
conversation, and what really mattered – love.
And afterwards the moment that remains imprinted
in all our memories:  the breaking and sharing,
body and blood; and a new universe was born.

‘As I am broken for you – be broken for each other,
As my life is poured out for you – pour out yourselves
for one another; and every time you set aside your self
in this way, for friend and enemy alike,
the world will recognise me, God’s life within each one.’

And so the precious promise passed,
and we departed;  a garden beckoned
in the darkness, and the agonising
loneliness of a cross;  and in the morning
– joy, the joy of an empty tomb.







He was held down

He was held down,
One kneeling on him,
Pinioning each arm
As nails were driven
Into his flesh,
While he lay helpless
On the hard ground.
People standing by
Looked on, silent,
In the face of authority
As he gasped
‘Father, forgive them,
For they know not
What they do.

Father, forgive us
For each time
  We condone
  Injustice and hate,
  Allow mob rule
  And violence to prevail,
  Or stand idly by
  While those in authority
  Go unchallenged,
  When we refuse to forgive,
  Forget to bring your peace
  And love for all to the world,
  For each time we do
  Christ is crucified again.

All heaven weeps

All heaven weeps

To see the earth

Abused and maimed by war and strife;

When people hate,

When people fight, 

And rob each other of their life.

Chor: Kyrie Elieson, Kyrie Elieson

Lord have mercy, God forgive us, for we know not what we do.

When greed prevails

And, crushed by power,

The poor are trampled on for gain,

The heart of God

Is torn in two,

And Christ is crucified again.                

Chor: Kyrie Elieson, Kyrie Elieson

Lord have mercy, God forgive us, for we know not what we do.  (2x)

All Heaven Weeps:
The Centurion


Icon: The Crucifixion

I never recognised him – can you believe that?

The man who healed my servant all those years ago –

was it only three? – in Capurnaum;

who gave the order, like I give orders 

every day, and the boy was saved.

Here, on Skull Hill, I gave another order;

nails were hammered through flesh

and our detachment strung the three of them up.

The lads settled down to their dicing

to while away the waiting time – always the worst part.

I didn’t join in.  Who wants to win

a sweat-stained bundle of peasants’ clothes?

Instead I stood and watched the small crowd

gathered near his Cross – no trouble-makers here,

just a group of broken-hearted relatives and friends

keeping a last vigil by his side,

while the sky darkened at the sun’s eclipse.

It reminded me of descending into the darkness

of the Mithraum at my initiation rite

when, as a young soldier, proud to wear

the uniform of Rome, I had been spattered 

by the blood of the sacrificial bull –

hot, sticky – the stench stayed with me for days,

a sign of salvation, they said, though nothing changed.

Yet here, as his blood spurted from his pierced side,

something happened – I’m still not sure what;

life goes on the same as usual – orders given

and received; but somehow, by HIS blood,

I am…. different – healed.

Surely this man was the Son of God.










The sister of Mary


Icon: Taking Down From The Cross

I didn’t want to be here, you know.

Here, at the crucifixion; but I had to come

because of his mother, my sister.

I had to be there for her.

Jesus was the joy of her heart, the apple of her eye,

her first born – never mind how he was conceived –

first born are always special in a way,

and he was, mark my words, he was;

so good at following in his father’s footsteps.

Then after Joseph died it all changed.

Oh he remained for a while as head of the household

but as soon as his brothers and sisters were able

to support their mother, he was off.

First of all he went to follow that wild cousin of his,

John (what a disappointment he must have been

to his elderly parents), the desert man,

living off locusts and wild honey,

just like one of those strange prophets, long ago.

But Jesus didn’t stay long with him.

No, he came back up north and soon

had quite a following himself – a mixed bunch

from fishermen to tax collectors, the riff raff

of society – with a few zealots thrown in.

So it’s little wonder he ended up here, really,

crucified between two criminals.

it shouldn’t have happened though – he wasn’t a rebel

  • well, not in that sense of the word.

He was good and kind and healed people,

helped whoever came to him in need.

And now here he is, in need of us

as we lower his battered body, and rest it

in his anguished mother’s arms, for one last time

before we lay it in the borrowed tomb.

So that’s why I’m in this place

where I really don’t want to be, God knows,

I’m here for his mother, yet despite myself

I’ve become part of it too.


Some of the above have been published by the Iona Community Wild Goose publications who are happy for them to be used for non-commercial purposes with the acknowledgement (C) Carol Dixon Iona Wild Goose Publications – All heaven weeps [Candles & Conifers] Sister of Mary [Spring] ; At the lakeside [Fire & Bread] all edited by Ruth Burgess.

Editor’s Note: This is part of a series. For parts 3&4, click here

I have also included two items written by friends of mine with their permission. 

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