An Altar and A Rose

Written by: James Tate

The somber members gathered
After Jesus’ death of woe.
With downcast eyes, they questioned
Why their Savior had to go.

At their first church meeting 
Since the ill-fated event.
They always gathered secretly,
With Roman soldiers evident.

“Look!” said a humble lady,
Pointing to a new altar.
Embarrassed, she sat down quickly 
Riveting eyes made her falter.

This altar, so remarkable
For a church of but one room,
Was adorned by a long-stemmed rose.
In full and delightful bloom.

A man let his hand glide across 
The altar’s glistening wood 
“Such smooth and polished grain.”
Craftsmanship he understood.

A girl said, “This pretty rose 
Has such deep red so pure,
And its lingering fragrance 
Is one I surely adore.”

The gray-headed pastor smiled.
And said, “A man came in today,
And offered us this altar
Replacing ours with no pay.

“I felt good about this man,
So I looked in his oak-wheeled cart.
And under wraps of old robes
He showed me this work of art.

“After the Crucifixion
He took the cross to his shop,
And cut the rough wood in planks
And smoothed them from bottom to top. 

“His heart was bursting with love
As he built the altar with care,
Then polished it to a sheen,
With an artistic flair.

“Then,” the pastor continued,
“A sweet lady rapped on the door
With a great story to tell.
About this lovely rose we adore.

“She had seen the Crucifixion,
And stayed until all had gone.
She wept at the foot of the cross
Where laid thorns worn by God’s Son. 

“She’d not let the shame of these thorns
Be seen. For this she would guard.
She took them home with her
And buried them in her yard.

“Three days later, a rose sprung up
In the exact place she chose.
Now, she felt compelled to bring us
Its very first blooming rose.”