Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Exaltation of the Cross

The most helpful words about the cross that I encountered today:

Nowhere Where the Cross is Not
by Fr. Jonathan Tobias.

Wherever you look, you’d be hard pressed not to find a Cross.

Since Jesus came, every plus-sign, every perpendicular,
every intersection of vertical and horizontal is a sign you can’t get away from.

It’s the sign of Jesus, Son of God, Second Person of the Trinity,
and of what He did in the world, for the poor in spirit,
the marginal down and outers.
For the sick and broken.
For me. For you.

Wherever you look, go ahead, and try to find not the Cross:
it’s planted everywhere.
Every tree is a Cross now, since Jesus was hung on one.
Every building is a Cross, since of all the cornerstones He is the Chief.
Every intersection is a Cross, since all life is met in Him,
and in Him are all things held together.

Every tower, every aspiration, every refusal of sorrow, every hope launched out
into the unknowns of death and tomorrow:
these are all the Cross,
as the Son of Man was lifted up between earth and sky,
to violate the policies of the Prince of the Air.
To forever compromise the darkness,
and design in the night a flame undenied.

Wherever you look, go ahead, I dare you to try,
and beyond all the obvious plus-signs at Church and on your icons,
you find that Jesus’ sacrifice, the nails, the spear and death itself,
has got you surrounded.
His Eucharist, Body and Blood are writ large, incarnadine and valentine,
posted to all your inboxes, and in every wordless thought
between every unconscious breath.

Wherever you look in the Night, it’s there.
Jesus is now Lord of the Night as well as the Light:
the Son never goes down on the Cross of Christ.
The Cross is a mystical bonfire that brightens every darkness,
and it’s time that you see it wards off every shadow and haunting.

The bleak houses of spite radio their scripts,
and previews of bodiless terror leech into unconscious dreams,
like the nightmare of the fall that never stops and the ground is rushing up.

Look carefully, there’s the Cross.

The intellectual whispers murmuring that perhaps the Church is not right,
that perhaps it doesn’t matter,
and services are too long and the kids think it’s boring.

Look carefully, there’s the Cross.

The feeling of tiredness, and the thinking that you’ve tried and tried
and now what’s the use?
No joy, it seems, and life is a house once cleaned,
that gets messed up, dirty dishes and water rings, just an hour after.

Look carefully, there’s the Cross.

The inescapable knowledge, after forty-three, incessantly,
that what you thought you’d escape from which affected the rest of the race
you know is now coming for you,
and will come, the moment of fall, decease and dread.

Look carefully, there’s the Cross.

The Cross is there,
because Jesus and His Saints are there, and prayer is there,
and all has been seen before.

There is nothing you can experience that hasn’t been covered by His life,
the fellowship of the Redeemed, and the Sign of the Cross.
This life is answered, healed, only at the Tree of Life in the next:
so it is that the Sign of the Cross is the warding off of demons,
the dispelling of shadow,
and the open code passkey into Paradise.

Look carefully, there's the Cross.

Wherever you look in the Day, it’s there.
The schoolfriend whose makeover covers the tears in the night,
and whose cruelties and chatter were learned
in too many car rides, and too many shows at prime time.

Look carefully, there’s the Cross.

The child that no one understands but you,
but the child who is nice to everyone else but you,
and the child who trusts no one else with their very worst but you,
is a child you love but are afraid you don’t.

Look carefully, there’s the Cross.

The friend who’s drunk and disappoints,
who you wish would clean up his act and get some help,
but he’s done that fifty times already
and so he doesn’t want to change, now he’s hungry and a mess.

Look carefully, there’s the Cross.

The boss who's forgotten every labor advance,
or the former colleagues who are gathering up a paper trail on you,
or the schedule that has no notion of Sunday
and only a hope for a penthouse and cruises
until the end in an urn, in some marble corner.

Look carefully, there's the Cross.

The parent who won’t trade roles with you,
but who, sometimes, acts like a child, lost, needy, lonely, and wounded,
but too much aware that they’re a mom or dad of an adult
so God forbid they’ll say I need you, please help, I’ll trust you today.

Look carefully, there’s the Cross.

The spouse who isn’t your spouse any longer,
or just doesn’t seem to be:
your house has drifted, and the interstitial space has extended, dulled,
and he/she has receded from you
as the space of your home has grown
from that charming little apartment where you were touchingly dirt poor
into a large sterile residence where space, no longer close, can creep so cold.

Look carefully, there’s the Cross.

The Cross is there, because prayer is there and you are there,
and you see the Cross, only because you see yourself no longer.
Your world doesn’t end at your feelings anymore.
It doesn’t matter to you anymore how you are treated,
how you are dealt with, how much respect you get,
how you are looked at, talked to, noticed or acknowledged,
or who bows to you along the way.

In loving Christ, you are paroled from self
and you can then and only then look with His love toward the other,
and you bring the Cross
to the poor, the lost, the lamb and lost coin, the pearl of great price,
the orphan, the widow, the man left bruised along the way.

You, as you denied yourself and followed Christ,
bore the Cross in your soul,
and as your soul was no longer stuffed with self, it grew up,
Christlike,
and proclaimed Christ crucified.

Who was poured forth for the Life of the World.

Which is exactly what your schoolfriend, your boss, your drunk friend,
your child, your parent, your spouse, your friend …
exactly what was needed …
the One Thing needful.

The Cross is everywhere,
but there was a cold soul season, once, when it was nowhere.

Today, there is nowhere where the Cross is not.

Your Cross we adore, O Master,
And Your Holy Resurrection we glorify


Wishing all the blessings of the feast.

2 comments:

Mimi said...

beautiful, thank you.

Happy Feast Day.

Emily H. said...

Thanks for sharing that, -C.