The shadow the cross has weighed heavily on me the past few days. As I sit and rest in the stillness of this Easter Sunday I am overwhelmed with the power of the cross. Death did not prevail.
As I reflect on the cross, a picture of love with it’s blood and brutality, I am brought back to the Camino. In 2014 I hiked 500 miles in 33 days across El Camino de Santiago with my mom when I graduated high school. It was the hardest feat I have ever accomplished and my life truly restarted through that experience, I have never been the same.
In preparation for our trek we did what all good pilgrims do. We each selected our rock from our home to pack in our backpack to leave when the time is appropriate. Per tradition, nearing the final stretches of the Camino stands Cruz de Ferro, it’s base a composite of the aches and groans of this temporal world.
When space in your pack is so limited (your pack weight is meant to be less than 10% of your body weight for this nature of hiking), carrying a rock feels a little ridiculous. Mine rested in small pocket in my waist strap for weeks. Sometimes I’d open that pocket and remember that I had a stupid rock in there and couldn’t use that space.
Journey with me to the cross.
Early morning start. I fight against the fatigue and work to open my eyes and guide my feet to another day of hiking. I throw my feet over the side of my bunk and pause to nurse my aching muscles. My body is unrecognizable at this point. My legs are scratched, sunned, and raw instruments of strength. As I hobble to the communal bathroom, my legs feel as if they can barely support that pack-less trek. We have a long day ahead. As the sky is barely waking with us, my mom and I begin our day’s walk. Today we encounter the cross. I have replayed what I have thought this moment would be in my mind over and over. For us, Cruz de Ferro loomed about an hour into our morning hike.
We each walked alone during this hour’s silence and march to the cross. I finally pulled my rock from it’s residence and held it in my hand. It was smooth, polished by Alaskan water that had pushed and pulled this rock to shore and then gingerly lapped against it, refining and smoothing its texture. It was split, half gray and half white stone. I turned it over and over in my hand and started to talk to Papa God. My conversation quickly transitioned to song. “Lead me to the Cross” filled my mind and tears threatened to burst at the beauty of this anticipation.
Lead me to the cross
Where Your love poured out
One foot in front of the other.
Bring me to my knees
Lord I lay me down
Earth crunches under my feet as I step closer and closer to the cross.
Rid me of myself
I belong to You
Lord, can I finally surrender to you?
Lead me, lead me to the cross
With one bend in the path we were suddenly there. Not to sound ungrateful for this experience, but it was smaller than I expected. As morning due still clung to the earth, the cross appeared in it’s humble glory. How appropriate that it would seem smaller and a humble image. The cross that held the body of Christ was of simple wood, with simple nails, with blood staining the earth. The gore of a crucifixion doesn’t fit comfortably with the narrative of a stained glass church.
I move to place my rock, warm from anxious turning in my hand, and I laid it down at the cross. The relief I feel as tears stain my cheeks is incredible. All my anxieties, my heart hurts, my wounds are represented in that rock that is now just one of many at the base of the cross.
At this place are the rocks of sinners, of widows, of orphans, of those battered and bruised, of those weary, of those seeking, of me.
As Easter Sunday continues to tick away I am brought back to my knees at the cross. I have been in a spiritually dry place for so long and the truth of what today, Easter Sunday, means moved me to tears for the first time in a long time. As our congregation sang “How He Loves” and I belted the truth of his grace and affection for his people, tears made their way down my face as a smile covered my face. As our congregation welcomed three more members to the church family through their public declaration of baptism my heart stirred. Death did not overcome. And I return to the cross to remember that it is paid in full, it is finished.
And I have joy to face the morning.