Unless I see the marks


              “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands,
              and put my finger in the mark of the nails
              and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”
                            —John 20.25

Oh, Thomas was no doubter.
The least naive, he trusted in the dark
the promise of our rising,
the open door of death.
He was the one, when Jesus stood
to go to Lazarus’ tomb in Bethany,
where enemies awaited him
with threats of death, who said,
“Then let us go and die with him.”

Oh, more, not less than all the rest,
Thomas believed in love, and how it bled.
He sought not proof of Jesus’ life,
but marks of what he suffered and forgave,
the scars of Thomas’ own betrayal,
to know that he had risen
not from bed, but from the depths
of hell, where Thomas needed him
to have gone, and been, and left transformed.

He didn’t ask to see his smiling face,
has famous, radiant eyes;
he didn’t hope to see him break the bread
the way he always did.
No, he asked to see his wounds,
the marks of love, the wounds of one
who weeps with those who weep,
who has walked with us through the valley
of the shadow of death.

Oh, Thomas, I’m with you:
I would not follow the safe and happy one,
the well-dressed Christ from a catalogue;
I will follow only the wounded one,
the one with most to forgive
and least reason to expect his hope.
I will follow the loving one with steady eyes,
who knows how much his love will cost.
I will follow the gentle man
with holes in his hands.


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