The Cross Plant
As my parents were aging, I remember my mom encouraging me when I would go home to visit to put my name on anything I wanted that was in the house. I thought it was kind of morbid and really didn’t see the point which is why my siblings ended up with the good stuff and I ended up with the luau decorations. (See my blog)
I better understand my mom’s request now. I will probably do the same with our kids. It is interesting to me, just what things the kids would even want. There is one possession of mine that I am really interested in knowing where or with whom it is going to end up. My Dead-Jesus-on-the-Cross plant. (See picture above.) I’m sure there will be a real bidding war between my children for it. I can just see it now.
Fifteen years ago, I found this odd but beautiful rotting piece of nature while on a walk. It was a sunny fall day when I was struck by the Divine in an otherwise very ordinary day when I looked down and there was this dried-up plant on the side of the road. I immediately saw an image in this old plant that I was very familiar with, the image of Christ on the cross.
If you look closely at the pictures in the frames you will see what looks like a crown of thorns around what I saw as a head. The side branches almost look like arms and the large clumps of dried leaves on either side of the main branch reminded me of the weight of our sins, ugly and heavy, that Jesus took with him on the cross.
I carried this somewhat odd artifact with me often and looked forward to any opportunity I had to share it with others. I was transporting it in a DSW shoe store bag when one of my friends in a Bible study I was attending begged me to let her husband make me a more solid, permanent home for my find. Thus, as you see, my Jesus Plant is now safe and sound, encased and on display at Firstfruits.
During Lent we are prompted to ponder the mystery of the cross. Ponder the connection between the suffering of Jesus on the cross and our own suffering with the crosses we bear. And we all bear crosses. We can’t escape them.
In his book, I Thirst, Fr. Joseph Langford says; “The acceptance of the mystery of the Cross is ever the touchstone of reality.
If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. (Mt.16:24) It is important that we embrace this teaching of Jesus with joy as leading to all good things. We need to make peace with our crosses so that we can carry them, and not just drag them along behind us. We need to become friends with the crosses God sends our way.”
Make peace with our crosses? Make friends with our crosses? Just when I was feeling proud of myself for the progress I felt I was making on my Lenten journey, I’m faced with this somewhat impossible command. What kind of friend is loss and loneliness? How do you make peace with chronic pain or discrimination? Just to name a few of the crosses out there.
Langford goes on to say;” Make peace with the wounds and sufferings. They are essential to the revelation of God’s thirst, and they help us become more totally dependent on him. The Lord draws us to himself with two hands-with joy and pain.”
We are being drawn into a deeper relationship with God through the Cross, through our crosses. We need to always remember that. Connecting the two reminds us that we are never alone and that we can share our sufferings and wounds with one who can soothe us and help us bear the weight.
Spend some time gazing at the cross this week. The one in church, the one on the wall in your house or maybe the one on the side of the road.
Let it reveal itself to you, wherever you are.