Listen to God's voice at the foot of the crucifix." ~St. Gaspar del Bufaro~

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Finding Easter In The Bloody Mess...

As Christians enter this week reflecting on the brutal murder of our Savior, we often wince at the thought of it.  Yet, we know what happens at the end of the story...The bloody mess is what saves us.

Only during Lent do Catholics have the opportunity to attend Friday Stations of the Cross.  During each of the 7 Lenten Fridays, we can choose to listen to the agony as we enter the scene that Jesus suffered. We bow our heads and drop to our knees in prayer as we mediate upon the different stages of the death march.  Inevitably, I find myself weeping at some point during the 30 minutes as we reflect on what occurred that Good Friday long ago.  Not only does it help us remember what happened but it reminds us of the direction we should be heading.

This Lent, I made a commitment to our parish Stations of the Cross.  I only missed one week.  We have typically made an effort each year but this year was different.  This year, I felt drawn, almost invited, to truly live Good Friday each week.  It was difficult to keep our calendar clear on Friday nights at 6:00 but it was worth it.  Entering the Passion of Christ is truly one of the most amazing spiritual exercises. 

I have learned the hard way that it is there, in the bloody mess of Calvary, that we are not alone.  No matter the size of my cross, your cross, our family's cross, we are not alone.  In fact, we are never closer to Christ than when we climb that road to Golgotha by His side. 

As I continue to suffer the after shock of trauma in my own life, it really helps me to visualize the blood on Christ's face, and the wounds on his human body.  He knew that we would suffer too and we'd need a lot of help to get through it! This year, having my family broken by impending divorce, feels like trauma on the inside.  My cross is heavy but I find consolation knowing that He knows. After all, Calvary was the ultimate trauma. 

I take one day at a time right now.  The memories of countless lies and betrayal threaten my sanity.  Mixed with the confusion of happy memories, I still find it troubling how all of this has transpired in my marriage without me knowing. How in the world did this happen?  Why did this happen? This Lent, I have felt particularly tortured as my brain randomly rolls from memory to memory in an inescapable attempt to process what has occurred. "Letting go" is simply not possible and I have been certain that my head might explode.  Yet for 30 minutes each Friday I thought about the crown of thorns that pierced God's precious head and saw my reflection in the blood dripping down his face.  Those are my wounds, your wounds, the world's wounds, that he bleeds.   He knows our heads are suffering from many wounds. He takes them on so that we might heal, one step at a time.

Even then, healing is a process and we still need to keep moving forward with our crosses. Things don't get better overnight. Lest we forget, He shows us how to do this too.  Last week, I was having a "bad day" carrying my cross. I was cleaning out the garage and having a pity party about all the burden of the work and junk that was left for me to bear alone.  Suddenly my neighbor appeared to say hello.  She just felt that she was supposed to tell me that I won't be buried by the burdens I was carrying. Suddenly, I recalled Good Friday.  Jesus' friends left him and even betrayed him during his suffering.  He found himself unexpectedly accepting help from strangers like Simon of Cyrene who helped Jesus pick up the Cross...And Veronica who wiped His face.  Once again, I was not alone.  Little did my neighbor know that she just wiped my bloody face.  She was my Veronica. He knows what we need and when we need it.  His trail of blood leads us home.

As Good Friday arrives, I know it's time for me to accept the challenge of my own Good Fridays...again.  Sometimes we get multiple Good Fridays to help us stay with Him.  Sometimes we're carrying a cross and sometimes we are called to be Simon or Veronica.  Either way, if we stay the course, we are never alone.

He took on our bloody mess.
He walked the walk.
He stumbled and fell and got back up.
He never quit.
He suffered a piercing death.
He sacrificed that we might live.
He saves us from ourselves.
He is unconditional love.
His resurrection is Easter~the dawn of eternal life.

We find Easter in our bloody mess...Our mess is His mess. The bloody mess saves us. 

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