Here, the beginning of everything moves among the olive trees, He, alone and lonely, prays that this cup may be taken away; the cup that is his alone to drink. Only into hands which fashioned the hills and mountains; only into those hands can the nails be driven. The feet that have trod these hillsides from the calm of Galilee to the Jordan, from the emptiness of the wilderness up to the conflict and tension in Jerusalem, Yet not my will, but yours, he said.

Praying and praying, pleading and pleading as the disciples sleep a stone’s throw away. This is the fear he must overcome; that he will be alone, forsaken, hanging on high, pierced for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquity,
paying the price for every bite of every apple we have consumed, you and I. And in his Agony great drops of sweat form on his brow like blood and make a trail through the dust, stinging his eyes as they go.

Judas, holding tight to his thirty pieces of silver,
leads a trail of blazing torches and glinting swords down the Kidron Valley. The High Priest’s men are on their way.
They too, are afraid; afraid he can see the truth they try to hide;
Clashing and shouting, their lights shimmer a trail down the hillside,
but the sound has not reached the Garden yet,
and so the serpent continues to whisper his song into Judas’s ears
and the coins in his purse rattle the oncoming death.

Then suddenly among the olives, he is there with Jesus.
And the serpent’s whisper is felt on those lips as they brush against the Master’s cheek;
the kiss of betrayal that sets in motion a death and a healing; an end and a beginning.
And the serpent slithers across the dust on his belly.

words and images by The Reverend Petra Shakeshaft