A Meditation on Peter’s Denial: As Imaged by Joseph O’Connell, Mary Hynes-Berry

Isn’t it just like denial?
A vortex.
We see the circles within circles within circles spiraling away when we falsely protest.
No . . . It wasn’t . . . I didn’t . . .
And afterward, when it dawns upon us what we have done, we are caught in a whirlwind of denial, crying our eyes out, we protest again.
            I didn’t . . .
                        I didn’t . . .
                                    I didn’t mean . . .
But the dawn has already crept away from the blessed confusion of night.
The authorities have come.  They are leading away Him whom we know to be our best chance at salvation.
No matter how heartfelt, out protest grows fainter in the ever clearer light.

So we do what we can in an effort to keep from being sucked down in sorrow and guilty despair.  We wring the stupid cock’s neck—if he had just been quiet, it would have been all right.  The darkness would have understood our fear, hidden it, forgiven us the consequences.  But oh no, that rooster, preening in his role, not once, not twice, but three times trumpeted to the world the dayspring from on high.  Everything is his fault we tell ourselves righteously.  Crowing in triumph, he betrays our denial of denial.  So, wringing his neck, wringing our hands, eyes streaming with tears of guilty regret we stand at the center of that vortex.  And yet, as faint as the dawn, we hope.

Reprinted with the permission of the Liturgical Press, the Order of Saint Benedict, Collegeville, Minnesota, from Divine Favor: The Art of Joseph O’Connell. Editor, Colman O’Connell. Collegeville, Minn.: Liturgical Press, c1999.  CSB, SJU and SJP Libraries Oversize N 6537.O265 D58 1999.