This sonnet is based on Mark 2:1-12 which tells of a paralytic who is carried by his friends to a house where Jesus is speaking so that Jesus may heal him. When they find that they can’t get close enough to Jesus, they dig a hole in the roof of the house and lower him on a mat in front of Jesus.
It is a wonderful story about carrying. The friends carry their friend whose own legs won’t carry him to the healer, Jesus. The scribes and pharisees carry out an investigation and question whether Jesus has committed blasphemy in forgiving the paralytic his sins. Jesus declares the man’s sins are forgiven, but Jesus also carries out the healing the friends and the paralytic himself sought so that all may see he carries the authority to do just what he said. In fact, he has come to carry out what is necessary to bring the forgiveness of sins and the healing of the world. Lastly, the man carries out his mat and is carried along with the joy of new life.
Carried along, my four friends bear me to
The healer and teacher come to our town
With the hope that he might right, heal, undo
These cursed, lifeless limbs that have let me down.
But the way is barred (so many others)
Another closed door leaves me lost, reeling,
Carries me under, fear floods and smothers—
My sin surely shuts the way to healing.
Carried down, sinking, a dug hole passed through
Into dark on the bier that’s borne me here;
I lie on the earth but find him here too
Who came first, who forgives, carries my fear.
“Arise! Take your mat,’ I take my burden
Carried forth in joy, loved, forgiven.
© Randall Edwards 2019.
This poem is for Christ’s church. If it is helpful, please feel free to copy or reprint in church bulletins, read aloud, or repost. I only ask that an attribution be cited to myself (Randall Edwards) and this blog (backwardmutters.com). Thanks.
Artwork: James Tissot (French, 1836-1902). The Palsied Man Let Down through the Roof (Le paralytique descendu du toit), 1886-1896. Opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper, Image: 9 5/16 x 6 9/16 in. (23.7 x 16.7 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Purchased by public subscription, 00.159.123 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 00.159.123_PS1.jpg)