A Good Friday Poem

by | Mar 25, 2016 | Catholic Writing

“A poem,” Robert Frost wrote, “begins as a lump in the throat, a sense of wrong, a homesickness, a lovesickness.”  We might say the same about the bumpy road that leads us to Easter.

Christians the world over are celebrating the Holy Triduum — the three holiest days of the year, that begin with the Last Supper celebrated on Holy Thursday.  We stay with Jesus as he undergoes wrongs and rejection, death on a Friday afternoon, and tomb-like waiting on Holy Saturday — all in anticipation of new life on Easter.

This Triduum gives us the space to find Jesus walking with us, too — in our quiet sufferings, lingering griefs, and anxieties about the future.  There is new life at Easter — just as there is new life at the far end of pain — but on Good Friday, we do well to stay with Jesus.

A few months ago, Brother Scott Surrency, O.F.M. Cap. penned a poem, “Can you drink the cup?” which stings and soothes in equal measure.  A good poem for Good Friday.

Can you drink the cup?
Drink, not survey or analyze,
ponder or scrutinize –
from a distance.
But drink – imbibe, ingest,
take into you so that it becomes a piece of your inmost self.
And not with cautious sips
that barely moisten your lips,
but with audacious drafts
that spill down your chin and onto your chest.
(Forget decorum – reserve would give offense.)

Can you drink the cup?
The cup of rejection and opposition,
betrayal and regret.
Like vinegar and gall,
pungent and tart,
making you wince and recoil.
But not only that – for the cup is deceptively deep –
there are hopes and joys in there, too,
like thrilling champagne with bubbles
that tickle your nose on New Year’s Eve,
and fleeting moments of almost – almost – sheer ecstasy
that last as long as an eye-blink, or a champagne bubble,
but mysteriously satisfy and sustain.

Can you drink the cup?
Yes, you — with your insecurities,
visible and invisible.
You with the doubts that nibble around the edges
and the ones that devour in one great big gulp.
You with your impetuous starts and youth-like bursts of love and devotion.
You with your giving up too soon – or too late – and being tyrannically hard on yourself.
You with your Yes, but’s and I’m sorry’s – again.
Yes, you – but with my grace.

Can you drink the cup?

Can I drink the cup?



Scott Surrency, O.F.M. Cap. (2015)

Published with permission of the author.

Title image, “Viernes Santo” by Flickr user Victor Nuño, is available here.