Beyond them. Far, far, unimaginably far beyond them. If one were to take flight from earth and rise higher and higher, earth would recede as if it were sucked away from our vision. It would shrink to a mere point of light and then disappear altogether. Turning around we see more points of light now streaking across the blackness as we step across the barriers of time, until we reach the edge, the last cluster on the perimeter of the creation, the last star, the last source of luminosity in the blackness beyond. Finally we reach the most distant orb in the heavens, the end of infinity, the extremity of all created: the last stop before we move into the abyss or whatever it is, beyond. Here we pause as we listen, in absolute cold, to silence. From the silence comes a faint awareness of weeping. Somewhere in the black is a Light we cannot see. It is a Place. An Abode. A Home from which comes this awareness of terrible brokenness. Then, at once, a shattering scream, heard not in the vacant cosmos, but in the heart.

An infinite distance away on tiny earth, great granite boulders split as if they were dried bread. The ground beneath those that stood by, the watchers, shook uncontrollably as if in spasm. The cross moved, the dead mass of tissue and bone swaying like a sack of salt.

The great curtain hanging in Herodís Temple, seamless and thick, violently rent from top to bottom.

There was nothing now to guard the place called the Holy of Holies. The altar, the candlesticks, all laid bare in unholy disarray. In cemeteries round about Jerusalem, great stones rolled away from the doors of sepulchres. Bodies of loved ones, and some not so loved, humans long dead, appeared in their entrances as if fresh from the finger of God. There arose an outcry of great fear. In all of human history, in all of the writings, in all of the stories passed down from ancestor to ancestor, there had never been anything like this . . . Wednesday, 14 Nisan, a day conceived in blackness, yet brought forth in the light of holiness.

Urbanus, Centurion to Caesar, and onetime friend to the family Joseph, sat astride his stallion and stared. For the first time in his life he was afraid. His men, those who had crucified Jesus, who had driven the nails through his hands and feet, who had laughed and mocked and taunted, those who had gambled for his clothing, now fell to their knees. Afraid of what, he knew not. He was not a believer in the Jew God nor any of those manufactured by the Roman government he served. His eyes traversed the happenings around him, his mount shying from the trembling earth. The horse reared, pawing the air, but Urbanus was not unhorsed. His eyes once again came to focus on the dead form of the man he had once thought to befriend.


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