A queer version of Christ’s Passion is running in daily installments this week from Palm Sunday through Easter. Each daily post features a queer Christian painting and an excerpt from the novel Jesus in Love: At the Cross by Kittredge Cherry.
That night John asked me to go to the garden of Gethsemane with him. I welcomed the chance to say goodbye to him privately before I died. …
“It broke my heart when you cried over Jerusalem the other day,” he began. “I’m sorry that I’ve been ignoring you lately. When Lazarus died, I thought I had lost another lover. Then you brought him back to life and I got carried away.”
I didn’t say anything, so John added, “You know that you come first with me, don’t you?”
I knew. I paused, pondering how deeply he mourned his dead lovers. I wondered how he would manage to survive the grief of my death. No matter what I said, he refused to believe that I was going to die soon. I didn’t know if we could even say goodbye with his love for me blinding him to the hard truth of my future. …
“My hour is coming soon,” I confirmed. “Any day now. Probably tomorrow.” John and I spoke of my physical death in metaphor because he couldn’t bear it otherwise. I loved his capacity for understanding the multiple meanings in my most poetic, mystical language.
“I don’t want you to go.” He stifled a sob, for he knew from my group discussions with my disciples that there was no talking me out of it. I lay my head on his chest and listened to his heartbeat again while I let him hold and stroke my body as much as he wanted. We were both damp with sweat and tears. Our salty, musky smell evoked my compassion, like a low musical note purring where my womb would be.
I spoke from that place: “I won’t abandon you. I’ll be back. The world won’t see me anymore, but you will see me,” I promised. … “God will give you Someone to be on your side forever. This Someone is the Spirit of truth.”
He stretched against me, awed and awake. “Do you mean that you will be with me…forever?”
“Yes! We’ll be wed. You know what the prophet Isaiah said: ‘Your Creator is your husband, and God Omnipotent is his name.’”
(Continued here tomorrow)
Gary Speziale is an openly gay New York artist whose art flows naturally from his full-bodied Roman Catholicism and who experiences life as one holy, homoerotic whole. He did the cover art for the “Jesus in Love” novels by Kittredge Cherry.