The top crucifix I picked up at Oberammagau in Germany when we went to the Passion Play. It was handcarved by someone in that village. The second crucifix I found in Italy on another trip. I have placed them on my desk to remember. Maybe like me you forget. In the rush of the too-muchness of everyday--I fail to recall what is real and what is important. I get caught up in bill paying, the air conditioning not working and trying to finish the flowers I want to plant in my garden. And so I forget.
But often my eyes are drawn to these two crucifixes. On this special day I remember again. For as long as I can remember I have loved this figure with his arms outstretched. And wherever I go and whatever I do there is that strange man hanging on that cross. Those outstretched arms reach out to me regardless of my failings and my stupidity. They draw me back to the reality that I have worth--that I can be forgiven yet again--and I can move on hopefully remembering that the future may just be different, better than the past.
Lately I think of those outstretched scarred hands and call to mind his embrace of the whole world. That little verse: "For God so loved the world..." used to be pretty small. My family. My friends. My church. Maybe even the state of Georgia where I lived. I had no idea that those hands stretched so far or that they took everybody in. Not only the "saved" whatever that means--but everybody. The old song: "He's got the whole world in his hands" takes on new meaning.
Years ago half-tipsy with wine me and my buddies were in a motel at Myrtle Beach. Outside the window you could hear the pounding of the surf. And inside one of my buddies began to strum his guitar. And as he began to play: "He's Got the Whole World..." we began to hum and then to sing. First we sang our own names and the people we loved. But it got out of hand--that song--that night. We began to sing about our children--some lost and broken. We sang about a failed marriage and people we did not like. We sang about mean church members that we really did despise. We kept on going until we had completed the circle wide and large. And somewhere in the singing we began to cry as we sang. He's got me...the little tiny baby...my brother and sister...everybody--every body in those nail scarred hands.
I wish I could recapture that night as I look at these two outstretched figures. This is a terribly divided time. About as divided as I have ever seen it. It looks like we have a President who has no intention of trying to bring us together--or the rest of the world either. But most of us too, have our enemies' list.
But on this day when I remember that awful hill and the day the sun turned dark--I come back to the incredible truth that Jessica Powers' reminded me of. "I came upon earth's most amazing knowledge someone is hidden in this dark with me."
Strange title: Good Friday. I used to think what made it good--Jesus died. But what makes it so good is that he died for us--and he taught us that when we take our last breath we too will be in the hands of the Father.
Remember that on a hill faraway there stood an old rugged cross. And that hill and figure matters for us and for everybody.
|photo by Jes / flickr|
--Roger Lovette / rogerlovette.blogsplot.com