Tuesday, April 26, 2011

On the Crooked Cross

Long before Mel Gibson produced The Passion of the Christ, a friend of mine described in graphic detail his interpretation of Jesus’ agony on the cross.  Mike was destined for the priesthood and often had insightful words to share.  In Mike’s reasoning the cross was most certainly not two milled slabs of wood carefully locked together in the pretty and symmetrical symbol we’ve adapted over time.  Instead it was more likely two heavy, gnarled tree branches or trunks lashed together with rough ties similar to hemp.  The branches were not stripped of bark or uneven knots sanded to a smooth surface.  It was highly probable that Jesus, stripped naked and rife with cuts from the flaying he’d received prior to the crucifixion, was tortured by the rough splintery surface as his wounds rubbed against the branch.  It is also likely that the seat or step depicted in many artworks was nonexistent and   Jesus was forced to bear His weight at his wrists.  The position of his arms would have made his sufferings worse as gravity pulled at Him, stretching his body away from his shoulders and collapsing the lungs.  I often think back on Mike’s words, especially when I am feeling sorry for myself and overwhelmed by life’s challenges.
There are times when I arrive home after a long day of work to find two days worth of dishes in the sink, scattered toys, shoes, clothes and snack trash on the living room floor and a week’s worth of clean clothes still in the baskets waiting to be folded.  I would love to come home to a sparkling clean house, but it isn’t practical.  I am a woman of bad habits.  So I fret and then become resentful as I list all the responsibilities that are mine along with those of others that I must absorb.  I try to be reasonable and remember that first, I am not alone and second, I am not the only one with multiple obligations.  I try not to speak out loud the resentment I feel because I know that time is our enemy.  It was much better when I was not working and I could keep up on things a little each day.  In this way I envy stay at home mothers.  This is one of those gnarly splintery knots that rubs and scrapes against my back.  But unlike Jesus, this is a cross of my own making.
When the boys work against my last nerve and I find myself with an angry mind and heavy heart, I wonder about Jesus.   His recorded stories have few instances of rage, fear or resentment; but he must have felt them.  He threw a tantrum in the temple when he overturned the tables of the money changers.  It was an act of anger, not a polite “excuse me; I’m going to tip your table now.”  He threw a tantrum when the tree was void of fruit and he cursed it.  He cried in fear in the garden before he was arrested.  None of this compares to the frustrations I feel at not being able to keep my house clean.  He hung on a crooked, gnarled cross and died; and in the end, He forgave them all.