Kelsey: The Ballard of Judas Iscariot
“We forget that the real task is to bring the totality of our psychic being to God and not just to repress and split off those parts of ourselves that we cannot change.” Morton T. Kelsey, The Other Side of Silence, a Guide to Christian 1976, Paulist Press, p. 105.
Theologian, Morton Kelsey wrote a very practical book over fifty years ago called The Other Side of Silence, a Guide to Christian Meditation to remind Christians that meditation was not just for those in Eastern religions. His revised edition twenty years later is called The Other Side of Silence, Meditation for the Twenty-first Century has more of his writings and wisdom in a time when Christian meditation now is more well-known. Kelsey believes that meditation is simply the way we set up the conditions to prepare for the God who is seeking us and breaks through to us particularly in silence. “Doing meditation” involves using Biblical stores, dream images, poems, images from other sources.
Included in Kelsey’s book is a moving poem,” The Ballad of Judas Iscariot,” by the Scottish poet, Robert Buchanan, which I always read and meditate on every Easter season, reminding us that no one is lost or not forgiven or not loved by God. I was reminded about the story by Sister Carol Perry, a speaker at the recent Community of Hope International meeting at Camp Allen last weekend. The ballad must have been powerful to hear it sung. The story is of Judas wandering through regions of darkness when he spies a light from a lantern at a doorway. Jesus is holding up the light as he beckons to Judas to come in and join his fellow disciples getting ready to eat. Jesus tells Judas they were just waiting for him before pouring the wine.
I offer the poem also to spiritual friends who feel they have done something unforgivable or that God no longer loves them, and of course I meditate on it myself when that darkness of guilt or shame or a poor self-image surrounds me as well. Judas is a reminder and icon of times when we cannot accept that we might be forgiven or loved or might be open to God’s Grace continuously offered to all of us through dark and light times in our life. In all honestly, was Judas’ betrayal of Jesus really worse than denying Jesus or abandoning him as the others did? Judas simply could not ask for or accept forgiveness and had forgotten that the God of his understanding was a loving and forgiving God.