Wednesday, March 23, 2016

What Are Your Stations?


Dear Friends,

In Jerusalem they call it the via Delorosa (The Way of Sorrows). That’s where, in the 14th century, the church established devotional stations at various points to depict the events in the last hours of Jesus’ life as He carried the cross to the hill at Calvary. For those unable to travel to the Holy Land, churches created what they call the Stations of the Cross using paintings, plaques and sculptures. Nearly all Catholic churches have the Stations of the Cross and many of our California Missions have gardens where the Stations are depicted. But every Lent I walk the Stations at Saint Andrews Abbey. 

Here in the high desert, the Stations are not artistically arranged along a garden path but are scattered up a steep, rocky hill. There are no carefully tended flower beds. Wild sage and scrub brush dot the hillside. The sculptures are not carved by artists but are hand-made and hammered together by the monks. Most Stations of the Cross in church and mission gardens have comfortable benches on which to sit, pray and meditate. In front of the Stations at the monastery, there is a flat rock to kneel on. On this steep rocky slope it can be snowy and bitter cold, windy or suffocatingly hot. It is always still. Always silent.

My Protestant problem with the fourteen traditional Stations is that seven of them are biblical and seven are based on church legends and stories. I can't relate to the Station where “Veronica Wipes The Face Of Jesus” when I know that's just a nice story. As I walk the Stations, I typically hurry past that one, and the ones showing Jesus falling. I pay no attention to the ones that have no biblical foundation.

But something different is happening this Lent. The Stations are intended to foster thoughts, prayers and meditations as the images evoke a visceral connection with the suffering of our Lord. But today I'm experiencing a different response to these images. My thoughts are drawn to my own life experiences. And now I find that even the non-biblical “traditional” Stations have meaning for me. Veronica’s compassion reminds me of the year when my family fell apart, my father died and God sent someone to take my hand and walk with me through life. The Stations that depict Jesus falling remind me of all the times that I've stumbled and fallen in my life and God would once again reach down and set me on my feet. These memories are my own “stations.” They are the snapshots of our past and, merged together, paint a portrait of our life and God's mercy and grace. No matter what the worst of our stations look like, God was there.

What are the stations of your life? Do your images depict the loss of a spouse or a child? A betrayal by a friend or loved one? Is there a station where God sent a “Veronica” to dry your tears in a time of hardship or grief? Was there a time when the burden was so heavy you couldn't bear to take another step with it and a “Simon” showed up unexpectedly to shoulder your “cross?”

My eyes have been opened and the suffering of Jesus Christ now transcends theology and has become more real to me than ever before. And, now I'm at the Station where Jesus is nailed to the cross. I’m overwhelmed with the realization that the worst things I have suffered in my life are nothing compared with the suffering that Jesus willingly took on for my sake. It was not the whip that caused my Lord and Savior the most pain. It was my sins.

I've been moving from Station to Station deep in reflective thought. Today, the trail seems so much narrower and steeper than it's been before. My feet slide and twist in the loose rocks. Sharp thorns from the Mesquite tear at my skin as I pass by. The desert environment is harsh and challenging, and I find that as I struggle along this steep rocky trail, it becomes the perfect metaphor for my life. And then I look up. At the highest point on this rocky hill – so much like the hill at Calvary – I see the broken body of Jesus hanging on the cross. 

Our journeys are different. Our life “stations” are different. But at some point, each one of us must raise our eyes from our own sorrows and look up. To see Jesus. Up there on the cross. For you. 

From the AMEN Corner Archives

No comments:

Post a Comment

The AMEN Corner is a weekly devotional for the family and friends of New Hope Family Church. It is intended for this devotional to be strengthening, encouraging or comforting and your comments too should be for the glory of God and reflect the intended purpose of these posts.

enter your email to receive the AMEN Corner every wednesday