Blood On My Hands
There’s blood in the courtyard, creeping into every crevice. A living force swirls it in all directions, gradually covering every stone till it slithers among the white lilies. An eerie hush envelops the garden withering within the shadows cast by three rugged crosses.
Walking through the courtyard, I tremble as my eyes follow a path of bloody footprints. Above me a mourning dove sings, then flutters its wings but remains perched; her cooing song haunts the dusk-like hours.
From noon till three the sun had stopped shining. The darkness had taken our breath away.
“I think we killed an innocent man today,” I whisper. “But my orders were to—”
“There’s so much blood, so much blood.” In the growing shadows a woman crawls on hands and knees, disturbing the pool of blood.
I hang my head. Shame can choke a guilty man.
She sobs, her tears dripping into the pool. Each tear, sparkling in twilight, splatters spots of red on her dress. It doesn’t matter, she’s already stained.
“You knew this man?”
She looks at me with sad eyes. “Yes, He was my Son. But not really.”
I raise my eyebrows. “Why did He let me … let them do that to Him?”
Slowly she stands to her feet and examines the cuts on my hand. I flinch. There’s a thorn embedded in the flesh near my thumb. I look away as she masterfully removes it. She smiles as she returns to her impossible task.
There’s not enough rags, I think, or enough buckets. “Leave it,” I tell her. “I’ll take care of it.”
In the cool of the evening, having failed to clean the courtyard, I take a long walk to the place of the Skull. No amount of water could have washed His blood off my hands. It stuck, it burnt, it outlined my fingernails. I don’t like how His death is affecting me. “Let it go,” I mumble. “He was just another man.”
As I struggle up the hill a daunting breeze fights with my newly-assigned cloak: A gift for my first kill. It’s a guilt offering. Maybe I’ll leave it at the foot of His cross. I wonder if anyone will remember Him?
As I near the Skull I watch someone taking His lifeless body off the blood-soaked cypress. The wind rustles the one part of his loincloth that isn’t sticking to his flesh by oozing blood. I take a deep breath, keeping my distance. My heart beats through the walls of its chambers as I remember His words: “Father, forgive them. They don’t know what they’re doing.”
My ears are ringing. It’s deafening. I can still hear the echo of the hammer hitting the nails. I pierced his hands and drilled through his feet. "No!" I sigh.
“Were you … are you the Son of God?”
It was a still small voice but it knocks me off my feet, down the hill and into the wild brambles. The thorns pierce my flesh. I moan.
The way home feels unfamiliar. My shadow seems disconnected or there’s a second person walking beside me—invisible? Did I hammer the nails into the Son of God? Is there a greater sin?
Each tree I pass reminds me of Him: Every cypress, cedar, and pine shudder; spindly arms shooting out ready to devour me, laboriously uprooting themselves. I run, stumbling through creeping shadows, as a red moon rises. A raven caws, bringing an end to a day of infamy. It is finished.
The world will never be the same. What will I do with His blood on my hands?
And it was about the sixth hour, and there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst. And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus he gave up the ghost.
Now when the centurion saw what was done, he glorified God, saying, Certainly this was a righteous man. (Luke 23:44-47)