Good Friday

Kneeler Black

Psalm 22

My God, My God, why have you forsaken me:
why are you so far from helping me and from the words of my groaning?

2 My God, I cry to you by day, but you do not answer:
and by night also I take no rest.

3 But you continue holy:
you that are the praise of Israel.

4 In you our forebears trusted:
they trusted, and you delivered them;

5 To you they cried and they were saved:
they put their trust in you and were not confounded.

6 But as for me, I am a worm and no man:
the scorn of all and despised by the people.

7 Those that see me laugh me to scorn:
they shoot out their lips at me and wag their heads, saying:

8 'He trusted in the Lord — let him deliver him:
let him deliver him, if he delights in him.

9 But you are he that took me out of the womb:
that brought me to lie at peace on my mother's breast.

10 On you have I been cast since my birth:
you are my God, even from my mother's womb.

11 O go not from me, for trouble is hard at hand:
and there is none to help.

from Elie Wiesel: Night (Penguin 1968 p76)

One day when we came back from work, we saw three gallows rearing up in the assembly place, three black crows. Roll call. SS all around us, machine guns trained; the traditional ceremony. Three victims in chains—and one of them, the little servant, the sad eyed angel.

The SS seemed more preoccupied, more disturbed than usual. To hang a young boy in front of thousands of spectators was no light matter. The head of the camp read the verdict. All eyes were on the child. He was lividly pale, almost calm, biting his lips. The gallows threw its shadow over him.

This time the Lagerkapo refused to act as executioner. Three SS replaced him.

The three victims mounted together on to the chairs.

The three necks were placed at the same moment within the nooses.

'Long live liberty!' cried the two adults.

But the child was silent.

'Where is God? Where is He?' someone behind me asked.

At a sign from the head of the camp, the three chairs tipped over.

Total silence throughout the camp. On the horizon, the sun was setting.

'Bare your heads!' yelled the head of the camp. His voice was raucous. We were weeping.

'Cover your heads!'

Then the march past began. The two adults were no longer alive. Their tongues hung swollen, blue-tinged.

But the third rope was still moving; being so light, the child was still alive…

For more than half an hour he stayed there, struggling between life and death, dying in slow agony under our eyes. And we had to look him full in the face. He was still alive when I passed in front of him. His tongue was still red, his eyes were not yet glazed.

Behind me, I heard the same man asking:
'Where is God now?'

And I heard a voice within me answer him:

'Where is He?' Here He is — He is hanging here on this gallows…'

That night the soup tasted of corpses.