It’s Holy Week. Time for me to reflect once again on the events and lessons surrounding Christ’s death and resurrection.
I wrote “The Executioner’s Song” after re-reading the Abraham-Isaac story in Genesis 22. It highlights a lesson about ‘sacrifice’ that I learned during a particularly dark time while we lived in Russia.
Sacrifice proved to be the only way for Abraham. It was the only way for Christ as he faced the cross, and it was the only way for me in Russia at that time.
The poem points out ‘why’. It has to do with the name of God memorialized by Abraham when God provided the ram to be sacrificed in place of Isaac. “Jehovah-Jireh” is the KJV’s translation of YHWH-Yireh and means “The LORD Will Provide”.
The Executioner’s Song
The lonely mountain death walk
Mist rises with the early morning sun
as the chill damp reaches my soul.
Every part of me is cold.
I’ve been here before, Lord.
I recognize the path.
It’s worn and obvious, not overgrown;
winding precariously around the
crags and skirting precipices;
narrow, but sure–not random.
This had been planned; prepared.
Executioners always know this way.
Yet you say Your name is YHWH-Yireh.
What will the Lord provide?
A sharp knife?
New rope to bind my Isaac?
Skillful, deft hands, quickly moving
so Isaac is surprised and tethered before he can get away?
I avoid his eyes.
I know they will speak of betrayal, shock, fear.
I, too, feel the sudden unmistakable jolt of revulsion.
Together we both know I hold the knife
and we both know it will come down,
so I avoid his eyes.
He lies still now, expecting the blow,
hoping the knife is sharp and the aim is dead accurate.
In one wave of glorious surrender,
the knife falls.
He is dead.
I am, too.
Neither of us will ever be the same.
We both sing the Executioner’s song
and sense the uncanny peace.
On the mountain YHWH-Yireh has His way;
so we carry the bloody knife
© Barbara LaTondresse
1 March 1995
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