For Holy Week 2019, the Chapel presented a series of first-person narratives, called “Were You There,” from the perspective of different characters. This one, The Repentant Thief and Jesus on Death Row, was written and presented by Kelly Rayner for Thursday Morning Prayer, April 18, 2019.
Do you hear me?
I sit in this lonely cell, separated from the world outside.
I am cold Lord. And scared. I put on a tough face when other people walk past, or the guards stop to give me my meal. But God. It gets lonely.
I do not know if you listen to me. I am a thief after all.
I have sinned all my life.
Surely you have turned away…
God I see clearly now my mistakes
I see the pain I caused.
When I was made up of drugs
I recognize the scars I hid
And how much I ran
Chasing a buzz
And a high that I wished wouldn’t end
But here I am,
A prisoner of my own making
Lost in a system.
My voice missing
I was so angry
I wanted to shake my fist
Like Jonah I ran
And was swallowed by a fish
I let others tell me
What I needed to be
But look at me now.
I want to cry
For others to see me
I want to show, who I can be
God I wish I had a second chance…
They say a man has come
And let himself be led
To a cell
On death row
A pit from which there is no return
I know now that I deserve this fate for what I have done
But I cannot see God
Why this person is here
They do not deserve the punishment here.
Today is the day
They led me in chains
In handcuffs so heavy
I barely can shuffle
My head cast down.
God, I don’t know if you hear me
But I thought I would try again
I am not worthy of saving
But the one they call Jesus
They have done no wrong
They do not deserve this fate
I see them for the briefest moment
And I want to cry
They look at me with the gentlest look
And for once I felt human again
I started to weep for this man I barely new
And for the life that was about to end.
I started to go weak in the knees and called out
I know I shouldn’t
But I begged them
Remember me when they get to Heaven
It is a short walk from there
We get to the rooms.
It is a special day the news says
all in one day
I am directed to lay down
On a table I am exposed
My eyes stare upward
My arms outstretched, straps every couple inches so they can’t move
My heart hurts.
Not for myself though
But for the man I know is just a room over
Wrongly convicted but willing to be put to death
For the needs of the people
I still do not understand everything
But I am done running now
I can walk the road back to you now.