by Johanna Caton
Judas, the traitor, knew where this garden was,
for Jesus had gone there often with his disciples (Jn. 18: 2).
He often sought the night-time solace of the olive garden when it bloomed—the scent of earth and blossom mixed and floating on the breeze, dark silhouette of trees, the silence after so much speaking—calm, the calm within the garden tied the world to truth again, to stillness, prayer, the Father’s heart. Oh, he thirsted for our woes—indeed, he homed them in his breast, embraced our shame—he claimed earth’s pain— but in the garden, far from all but closest friends, far from crowds and crowds’ demands, he’d finally rest, his harrowed mind surrendered lovingly into his Father’s hands. So: Why? I ask. Why here? Why here Thursday’s betrayal—here, unthinkable tomorrow thought! Why stalk my Lord and Christ? Why probe to this, his only place of safety: sweet garden made sacred by his prayer? Would not some back-street rat-patch have sufficed for Satan’s gloatings? But, I see. It had to be. Here agony must grip. Here horror claws his mind, bleeds through his skin—for only this would make his offering complete: when even this dear comfort would be sacrificed and God’s own full oblation would begin. First the garden must be taken by our sin.
Johanna Caton, O.S.B., is a Benedictine nun of Minster Abbey in England. Originally from Virginia, she lived in the U.S. until adulthood, when her monastic vocation took her to Britain. Her poems have appeared in both online and print publications, including The Christian Century, The Windhover, Heart of Flesh, Amethyst Review, The Ekphrastic Review, St Katherine Review, Fathom Magazine and the Catholic Poetry Room webpage at integratedcatholiclife.org.