Welcome to Week 1 of our Lenten Dig where we will be reading and discussing the book What Jesus Saw from the Cross. Feel free to join the discussion at any time. Please note, all items I've put in quotations below are excepts directly from the book.
Two years ago after Good Friday mass I remember walking out of church into a drizzle; it was a dreary day, overcast, dark, and wet. I flipped the hood up on my coat and as I stepped into my car I remember thinking: how appropriate.
I think that's kind of how I've always looked at this day: dark, gloomy, depressing. I pictured brown, barren ground and loud, unattractively sounding, squawking birds. So what was so startling to me in reading this first chapter was the author's claim that "there was nothing gloomy about the prospect." There was vegetation: olives, citrons, nuts and figs "giving off their honey scent." While I have always pictured birds, in my head they were more like crows, not birds "making merry in the springtime". But maybe what struck me the most odd were the flowers: "the place was carpeted with cyclamens, the flower of rocky ground, wild daffodils, irises, fennel, poppies, and daisies, and especially the red anemone, perhaps lily of the field, and the famous flowers of Calvary - those tiny blossoms that never seem to die...." I mean, reading this description of Calvary it sounds.....beautiful, inviting, enjoyable, which is in such stark contrast to what was taking place there that day.
Another thing I found extremely interesting in this first chapter was the description of the cross, of it's height and weight. The author notes that "the length of the beam had to be limited because it had to be thick, and yet the criminal must carry it. Therefore limiting the weight." He talks about the demands of balance and handling and says "it was possible to engage the shoulder against the crosspiece; but to drag the wood on the ground behind would have been out of the question." I have always pictured Jesus dragging the cross on the ground.
Can you imagine? After having just suffered the scourging, being beaten and having open wounds on your back, I would assume that simply walking alone would be a struggle but now you add the weight of this large wooden beam that you must balance lest it hits the ground and you will, likely, topple over with it.
I think, for me, it has always been easy to form a simple picture in my mind of Jesus hanging on the cross, I mean we see the crucifix hanging over the alter every Sunday. And, on the surface, I think I can talk about his agony but to really dig in and try to to imagine what that must have been like....well, that's a little harder.
The cross had a "wooden projection at some height above its base. This structure, the antenna, formed a sort of saddle and was designed to prevent the hands and feet from being torn under the weight of the body." Being torn under the weight of the body. He was nailed to the cross. Obviously, we all know this, but when I just sit and let that thought sink in....nailed...."His legs drawn up high enough for His feet to rest flat against the beam: a frightful position, but for that very reason the more probable....the first spasms shake the body already mercilessly torn by the scourging and by a night of torment...blood flows in thin streams from His hands and feet, oozes from his forehead....the cruelly strained position allows no movement...." And then there is a "terrible jolt as the cross falls into its rocky hole, sending a shudder through the beam and through the members of the victim". I can't read these words without wanting to cry and without feeling a physical ache inside my body.
The chapter ends speaking of the "noises of the city" a reminder that even in the midst of tragedy the world just keeps on spinning; people keep on moving. I remember after the fire feeling like my life had come to a complete halt - it was tough for me to get on social media and see people talking about the everyday aspects of life when I felt like our life had just been completely shattered - I would imagine this would be the case with most anyone suffering through some sort of difficult time. It brought me some comfort to know that our Lord experienced something similar; as he suffered on the cross, below him the city just kept on moving along.
I'm excited to hear your thoughts on our Week 1 readings.
Next up: March 19th, Week 2 - Chapters 2 & 3 (Zion & His Father's House)
Before I sign off for today I just wanted to make sure you saw the comment Karma left on our last Dig post and share it (in part) with you again here because I loved it so much.
"Our ash Wednesday mass sermon gave 4 "weapons" to fight the distractions of everyday life and to help make the Lenten season a success. I thought I'd share with you and any of your readers that are interested:
1. Live intentionally- each day the thought of God and lent should be as second nature as going to work on Monday morning.
2. Love fully- if you're doing it right it should hurt, love those that irritate you.
3. Learn humbly- have an open mind to really learn about Jesus.
4. Leave boldly- at the end of 40 days be different and show that you're doing it through God."
Wishing you all a pleasant week!