Third Watch – behind the scenes

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“Third Watch” mid-draft and well underway

So here is a little extra about Third Watch.
First, Third Watch is midnight to three AM according to Roman reckoning, which is when Christ was in the Garden of Gethsemane, and is also when my wife took over driving.
Second, League of Miles – is from the etymology of the word “Rest.” I love this definition (

Original sense seems to be a measure of distance (compare Old High German rasta, which in addition to “rest” meant “league of miles,” Old Norse rost “league, distance after which one rests,” Gothic rasta“mile, stage of a journey”), perhaps a word from the nomadic period. Unless the original sense is “repose,” thence extended secondarily to “distance between two resting place.”

I love that the very last word of the poem (“rest”), from Matthew 26:45, originally refers to a measure of distance between stages in a journey – the league of miles, the distance after which one rests.
Third: Specific Heat refers to the principle in physics of the energy that has to be poured into something before it changes state. I love the idea of the universe pouring through the Savior and being filtered through his person and his skin as he carried out his extraordinary atonement. The “iron slick” is the hemoglobin in his divine blood: “his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down” (Luke 22:44).
Fourth: Breaking the heart of God – that’s a tough phrase. I wondered about including it, but had to. It must have broken the Father’s heart. Concluding the work after suffering on the cross would later break Christ’s heart, as was revealed when the spear in his side led to water pouring out  (John 19:34). Presumably, that “water” was the fluid that surrounded his heart and lungs (effusion), related to the cause of death when he “gave up the ghost” after saying “it [was] finished” (John 19:30). But in the garden, for the Father to watch the Son bear all, it must have broken his heart.
And mercy and justice are both satisfied (Alma 34:14-16).
Fifth: Apocalypse – which means “revealed” or “revelation.” My wife’s character is revealed, and God’s character is revealed, and Christ’s character is revealed at this stage of the poem. I love that my wife’s character and kindness is revealed in her closing my eyes – that is when I truly see, with echoes of Christ placing mud on the blind man’s eyes so he could see – John 9:6. The phrase “pressed down and shaken together” is from Luke 6:38, from Christ speaking in this beautiful phrase: “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom.”
And the last line of the poem is the key: It’s from Matthew 26:45 – after Christ had suffered in the garden, he came to his disciples who had fallen asleep, and told them “Sleep on now, and take your rest: behold, the hour is at hand…” What I love about this, and haven’t really heard spoken about before, is the difference in the Savior’s admonition to his apostles before and after the atonement in the garden. Before his atonement in the garden was completed, and he found them sleeping, he spoke to them like this in Matthew 26:40: “What, could ye not watch with me one hour?” There’s a little reproof there. But after his atonement was done, his reply to them was was Matthew 26:45: “sleep on now, and take your rest.” What was the difference in those responses? In the intervening time, he had suffered for the sins of those apostles who had slept. He had literally borne what they had borne, felt what they had felt (Alma 7:10-13). He knew how tired they were because he had just felt it. He knew their faith and doubts and strivings and worrying – he had just finished literally experiencing them in the garden. And “in great mercy” (Jacob 4:10), he said to them “sleep on now, and take your rest.”
We had been fully revealed to Christ (apocalypse) through his atonement as he felt in reality all that we would ever feel and suffer. And he is fully revealed to us – as the perfected and absolute good, through his triumph. “Worthy is the lamb that was slain!” (Revelation 5:12-13)