Sunday, March 24, 2013

Station Twelve--Jesus Hangs on the Cross

Somethings is tearing, hearing a hole
Too wide for measuring
And something is grating, grating
As of a hinge, broken, and a door
Swinging in a deadly wind.
The lynchpin is pulled,
The ridgepole cracked.
Drown through the needle's eye
We are crushed by a weight
With no name, and pray
The world will not lie splintered
By Sunday
When all this will be explained."
  --Arlene De Bevoise, "Good Friday"

The twisting winding road stops here. Jesus is done all that he can do. And so they nail him to the cross and everything is different. The soldiers that day did not understand this. They saw dead criminals nailed up for all to see day after day. The crowds, mostly curious did not understand this. They only came to gape. Off to the side, heartbroken and scared was dear John the only one that came, and the women--always the women. And yet many have come to understand. This cross--this death has become the central symbol of our faith.

The Cross reminds of a story that A.E. Hotchner told in his book, Papa Hemingway. Gary Cooper, famous movie star, winner of a multitude of awards was a good friend of Ernest Hemingway. Cooper, despite his fame, led a notorious life of women and booze. Later in life he suffered a nervous breakdown and as he recovered he slowly began to visit the Catholic Church and became friends with the Priest. After a long time he joined the church and was baptized. Hemingway heard the news and couldn't believe it. He kidded Gary Cooper about getting religion. Cooper made a joke out of it too. They both laughed.

 Later Gary Cooper was diagnosed with lung cancer and toward the end he was very sick. Hotchner, a friend of them both, visited Cooper one day in the hospital. He was very weak and Hotchner knew his friend did not have long to live. But Cooper raised up and said, "I want you to give Hemingway a message for me." And he was hit by terrible racking cough. "Tell Ernest that day when he made fun of me for joining the church and I made light of it too, I want him to know..." And Hotchner that Cooper reached across his bedside table and found a small wooden cross. He kissed it and said, "I want Papa to know this--tell him that this was best thing I ever did." He died not long after this.

"Lamb of God that 
takes away the sins of the world
have mercy on us--one and all."

(The linoleum-cut print, as have all the others on this Journey were done by African artist,  Bruce Onobrakpeya. The original work hangs in St. Paul's Church in Nigeria.)

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