This is a poem I wrote two years ago. During National Poetry Month, my youngest daughter, who teaches middle school in NYC, and I write poems to each other. Many of mine should never see light of day, but that year I wrote poems each day of Holy Week about the events of that day. I stumbled across the tradition of calling this “Spy Wednesday,” after the plotting that was going on that day. Treachery, using, selling out–they are the deepest pain that wells forth from human beings. The deepest pain of Holy Week is the revelation of betrayal of the innocent Jesus by his friend.
What a great name for the day
A friend’s fate was sealed,
Sold out by the man for whom
Dante created an ice rink on the lowest level of hell.
The word sends icy shivers down the spine
Because it requires loving trust as its precondition.
People betray love, not hate.
Enemies try to kill you. It’s what they do. No surprise.
Only friends, lovers, teammates
Sisters, brothers, colleagues betray you.
It has to rip a hole where you felt safe to do its work.
It’s a sordid business—
Traitors sell you out, stab your back
Let you down, break your trust, turn on you
Ruin your faith in people and undermine your capacity to trust again.
Only double minds and hearts, labyrinths of secret compartments
With cracks in the walls, broken floor joists and low light,
Can pull it off.
A loyal spy is still a patriot
But a double agent is up to the highest bidder
At the cost of a soul
Thirty pieces of silver for Jesus puts the condemnation at Simon’s house
In an even more painful contrast. Hers was of love found
His was of love disdained.
His only hope now is “all have sinned and fall short of the glory”
A tiny speck of hope that his wretchedness is but one more evidence
Of what stares back at us in the mirror sooner or later.
So the drama unfolds,
which character, bent, long before it would be set in motion.