As I Lay Me Down To Sleep

An image for someone for some unknown time in the future:

I sit on the cold concrete floor and observe the wine glass and the piece of bread that was placed before me on the floor on a plastic tray by the grim faced prison guard. It took me by surprise. I didn’t expect him to grant my final wish for a last meal. But he did. Not without a scornful grin though, and the usual nasty comment: “Communion?” he sneered at me. “What good will that do? You are not a Christian.” And maybe he’s right, I think now. Maybe he’s right.

The bread gets stuck in my throat, like it always did. And I can still taste the yeast in the dough, which I ignore, as I press its soft pastiness against my dry palate. It no longer tastes fresh, but stale and dull, but I don’t mind, since I’m not hungry anyway, and this is not a meal in its usual sense.

Do this in remembrance of Me, He said, so that’s what I’m I doing, even though I’m told that I don’t deserve to eat the Lord’s Supper. 

The Christians, who handed me over to the prison guards, all looked so high and mighty somehow, with faces made of steel. “We’re sorry,” they said, “but God’s will must be done.” One of them, a pastor in his mid-forties, certainly seemed to be convinced of the sacredness of his duty. He was quoting the Book of Deuteronomy in his departing words, as some kind of final judgment over me. “Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands. But those who hate him he will repay to their face by destruction; he will not be slow to repay to their face those who hate him. (Dt 7:9-10) 

And now I sit here, in this silent dump, this echoless prison cell, where all you do all day long, is watch the tan colored concrete walls, and wonder how much time has passed, waiting for the door to finally open and your name to be called, so you can have your turn on the guillotine. “Let’s play marble!” the guards call out to each other and laugh, when they come and get you, that’s what I’ve heard. “Marble,” as in the online game where rows of marbles roll down the chute, and the winner is the one with the most marbles. Except, it’ll be your head, and not a marble. 

They call the guillotine the economical and sensible solution to the problems of the human race, cheaper than poison, faster and more effective than the noose, and no electricity or major repairs required. “The clean cut of the disease” is what they call it, these animals, who call themselves “surgeons”. “Cut off the human cancer!” they say, when they take us to their slaughterhouses, these marble jogglers, who kill people for sport, just like the Nazis did during the Holocaust, all with the silent approval of the churches, of course. “The world must never forget!” they said about the Holocaust after it was over. But the world did forget. Because here I am. Like so many others before me. 

I take slow sips of the bitter, red wine and let it swirl around in the glass, thinking about my sins that were so mercilessly smeared in my face by the Christians that handed me over. “Jesus would never do that,” I comfort myself.  “Accuse me of my sins like that.” Or would He? The sneaky thought hits me, immediately followed by a slight stab in my stomach, the beginning of a subtle fear. Yes, they were right about my sins. About my anger that I can’t quench, no matter how hard I try, and all my fears that so evidently rage inside of me, especially now, causing my mind to blur, causing me to lose my peace. And they were right about the rest of them too, about my pride and my lust, these constant companions of mine, and all the other dirty secrets that I carry, that I still can’t rid myself of. Of course they’re right, I’m a mess, and can’t help myself, after all these years of trying to follow in His footsteps, I still keep failing. Even now, I can’t help being angry at the prison guards, and angry at these so called “Christians,” who call themselves my loving brothers and sister, but still hand me over like a dog into the hands of brutes, to die. No, it’s true, I can’t love them the way the Bible teaches me to love. Just don’t have it in me. I’m no saint like Stephen, who prayed for the people that stoned him to death.

But that’s exactly why I came, I hear the quiet words inside of me, just then, to build a bridge from the impossible to the possible. From your limits, and your hopelessness, and your misery - to My endless arms.

“Is that you Lord?” I start crying, “Are you coming for me now?” But the silence of the prison cell is my only response, replacing my hopeful question with a pounding silence that soon turns into my usual despair, where I wonder if I heard anything at all, or if I just imagined it. “Maybe I’m just out of my mind,” I think, “like they say.“ And now it comes, the paralyzing fear again, tightening its horrific ropes inside my belly and chest, hammering my thoughts without mercy, whispering awful things in me, sowing deadly seeds of doubt, telling me I wont make it to Heaven, and that the God I always thought I knew, was no God at all. “Maybe they’re right, and I really don’t belong to God?” I think. “Maybe when I lay my head inside that guillotine, it’s because I really deserve it?”

But didn’t I always tell you this moment would come? Asks another unexpected thought that suddenly rises from within me, from that quiet place inside of me that’s always led me through my hardships in life, to safety. “Yes, it’s true,” I think, “I was.“ In the Bible, and in my dreams, I was told that this moment would come, and that I would be hated and treated like a dog, just like He was treated. So why should I react this way now, like something strange is happening to me? Why all the doubt now? After all, I was told. And anyway, what could I’ve done differently? More lovingly? Or more truthfully? As the limited and imperfect person that I am? I think about the reasons that brought me here. How I was called a traitor and a law breaker for standing up for the people that had no one to help them. The little ones. What else could I’ve done? The truth inside of me compelled me. How could I not have defended them? I saw their faces! How could I’ve laid my head on my pillow at night and rested, if I hadn’t done what I did? How could I’ve prayed to God then, with that kind of burden wearing me down?

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest (Mt 11:28), I hear now. And that’s when I suddenly realize exactly what to do, and what to think. I realize that when the moment comes, and I stand there on the courtyard before that guillotine, it will transform before my eyes into something completely different - it will become His lap. There will be no more sharp blade for my eyes to see, and no more cheering crowds, and no executioner holding onto a rope leading to a sharp death. There will only be His lap, covered by a white robe, and that’s all.  And that’s where I will lay my head, like a child, who’s ready to rest, and go to sleep. After all, where else would I lay my head, but right there where it belongs, in the safest place in the world, in His lap?

(Mt 10:17-31)

(Mt 24: 9-13)