|photo by contemplative imagining/ flickr|
will not grant us all things besides?"
When the Church finally sorted out the Stations for holy use—they chose three Stations to tell of Jesus falling. It seems almost too much. Our Lord, the Savior of the world, falling again and again.
I think the Church knew that fallings are part of every journey. Remember John Bunyan’s classic, Pilgrim’s Progress? Christian is on his way to the place of beauty and delight. But he fell into the Slough of Despond—and he was afraid that he would drown there. It really was a terrible place to fall.
Most of us have known that Slough if we are honest. We stumbled into a dark wood. We failed—maybe from reaching too far. Perhaps we just tripped along the way.
Sometimes we are crushed by life. Cancer. Automobile accidents. Going into your 21 year old’s room to call her to breakfast and find her dead. She has taken her life. No warning. No note. Or you reach out year after year to a child who has turned away and nothing you can do will bring him back. And you feel like a failure. Life just tumbles in and everything seems hopeless. That’s the Slough of Despond.
So some of us give in or give up. We can’t take it anymore. And this is certainly understandable. Like that man who lay by the pool for 38 years hoping to find a way to get in the troubled waters. Somebody always pushed him away and got there first.
It is the dark side of life, this Station. And I think we need this second falling. For here, once again, this man of sorrows and acquainted with grief is one with us all. He always loved the broken ones. He reached out to the disgraced and despised ones. His great heart had room for those crushed by the systems the world erects. The poor...the Samaritans...even the Publicans and the Centurions. He reached out to the adulteress and the lepers who lived outside the gates. Whoever had a need so great that life just stopped. Jesus cared for all of these.
And it hardly mattered if was the physically broken, the emotionally shattered...the alcoholic or the drug addict or the financially disgraced. This Station reminds us that he is with all of us broken ones who wish life could be different than it turned out.
Maybe the Church put this second falling in to remind us that even the crushed can get up. Even the despairing and those outside the system are not lost. Grief might just find a healing. Who knows—we, too might just find strength and hope and maybe even faith in the broken places of our lives. Christian in Bunyan’s story did not drown in the Slough of Despond. Someone called Help reached down and lifted him out. I think I know his name, don’t you. It is the one who on his own twisting, winding way fell and wondered if he could go on.
Maybe God can still write straight with we fallen...broken...crooked sticks. No wonder the Church gave us this Station at mid-point in the journey. For not only is it Jesus’ story—but it is our story too.