The Potter’s Field

(A poetic reflection on Matthew 27:1-10): Daily Office Readings for Friday, July 22, 2022

We all grew up

 

Hearing about “the potter’s field”

But most of us 

Probably didn’t understand why

A field for paupers, criminals,

Unidentifiable remains,

And “outsiders”

Has that name.

 

You see,

There was a place outside Jerusalem

In the Hinnom Valley

Where potters found the most exquisite red clay

But the valley was tainted

With the history

Of child sacrifices to Moloch.

 

So the holes and trenches

The potters made

Were left standing open

(after all, no one wanted 

To stick around on haunted ground

For very long)

And the land became a wasteland.

Yet it was easy to bury someone

Because the holes were already there.

 

Even without that history,

we all grew up knowing

The potter’s field

Was a place

To dispose of the remains

Of the unwanted,

The unknown,

And the unloved.

 

Today we know it

Through places like

Hart Island in New York City,

Where over one million people

That the world forgot

Are interred.

 

Although we generally assume

Judas was buried there,

We don’t know that for certain.

Yet, in a way, I hope that he was–

Because really, when it comes down to it,

Don’t all of us

In some way or another

Take our guilt and our shame

And bury it in unmarked fields,

And hope that through a grace

Far beyond what we can see,

The commonality of human shame and guilt

Is somehow redeemed 

By lying alongside the pain of others?

Maria Evans splits her week between being a pathologist and laboratory director in Kirksville, MO, and gratefully serving in the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri , as Interim Priest at Trinity Episcopal Church in Hannibal, MO. 



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