On my honeymoon, almost 15 years ago now, I picked up a used copy of Orthodoxy by G. K. Chesterton. I tried to read it then and couldn’t make heads or tails of it. When my editor at IVP told me it was one of his favorite books ever, I tried again and still didn’t comprehend it. Over the years, I’ve picked it up a few other times, read a few pages, maybe even a whole chapter, and set it down again. It made me feel incurably stupid that I could not follow Chesterton’s thoughts, and I do not like feeling stupid.

A month ago, when I was finally unpacking all of my books, I came across it yet again and, for reasons I do not know, decided to give it another whirl. And, boy, was it a whirl! The man is funny. And crazy smart. And both insightful and incisive. And I understood him! Which tells me you actually can teach old dogs new tricks.

I could quote page after page of Chesterton’s brilliance, but I’ll forbear. On this Good Friday, there is one passage in particular that I want to share with you. I’ve read it half a dozen times in the past two days, and every time it gives me chills:

But if the divinity [of Christ] is true it is certainly terribly revolutionary. That a good man may have his back to the wall is no more than we knew already; but that God could have his back to the wall is a boast for all insurgents for ever. Christianity is the only religion on earth that has felt that omnipotence made God incomplete. Christianity alone has felt that God, to be wholly God, must have been a rebel as well as a king.

If that doesn’t shiver your timbers, my friends, I don’t know what will. The first time I read it, I immediately thought of Dorothy Sayers’ poem “Desdichado,” which I love because it stirs my blood and makes me long to lay down my comfortable life and follow the Bonny Outlaw to the black-enchanted lands—or wherever else He may lead.

And that is exactly what we do on these days of the Triduum. May they be days of deep solemnity and adventurous delight for you.



—This is the heir; come let us kill him.

—Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness, leaning on her Beloved?

Christ walks the world again, His lute upon His back,
His red robe rent to tatters, His riches gone to rack,
The wind that wakes the morning blows His hair about His face,
His hands and feet are ragged with the ragged briar’s embrace,
For the hunt is up behind Him and His sword is at His side,…
Christ the bonny outlaw walks the whole world wide,

Singing: “Lady, lady, will you come away with Me,
Lie among the bracken and break the barley bread?
We will see new suns arise in golden, far-off skies,
For the Son of God and Woman hath not where to lay His head.”

Christ walks the world again, a prince of fairy-tale,
He roams, a rascal fiddler, over mountain and down dale,
Cast forth to seek His fortune in a bitter world and grim,
For the stepsons of His Father’s house would steal His bride from Him;
They have weirded Him to wander till He bring within His hands
The water of eternal youth from black-enchanted lands,

Singing: “Lady, lady, will you come away with Me,
Or sleep on silken cushions in the bower of wicked men?
For if we walk together through the wet and windy weather,
When I ride back home triumphant, you will ride beside Me then.”

Christ walks the world again, new-bound on high emprise,
With music in His golden mouth and laughter in His eyes;
The primrose springs before Him as He treads the dusty way,
His singer’s crown of thorns has burst in blossom like the may,
He heedeth not the morrow and He never looks behind,
Singing: “Glory to the open skies and peace to all mankind.”

Singing: “Lady, lady, will you come away with Me?
Was never man lived longer for the hoarding of his breath;
Here be dragons to be slain, here be rich rewards to gain…
If we perish in the seeking…why, how small a thing is death!”

—Dorothy Sayers

Photo of Irish ruins by Susan Forshey.