“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him might not perish
but might have eternal life.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world,
but that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3:15-17)
Several years ago, a friend agreed to accompany me to photograph the crosses of our local parishes for a Lenten project I was planning. Although the project was never fully realized, at least as I pictured it, and the photos were lost in a computer crash, the memory of our time together remains a vivid memory for me. Armed with hot coffee, a map and a tank of gas, we set off early on Saturday mornings on a sort of scavenger hunt. We did find many crosses, and as I sat before them, words or emotions would often rise up unexpectedly. It became much more than a photography project. It took on the nature of a pilgrimage: a time for quiet personal reflection and a time for sharing our story. Our schedule was often interrupted with unplanned pauses to kneel and pray in a chapel we suddenly discovered, or to walk the holy grounds or to talk with someone we encountered along the way. All became sacred in our search for the crosses. Our friendship took on a new depth and honesty that left an eternal mark on our relationship, and for me deepened my faith and restored hope. Our physical journey to the crosses led us to new paths in our spiritual journey.
Our faith teaches us that through the cross, ancient symbol of death, God redeems all the pieces of our lives, In offering his Son on the cross, death was defeated and eternal life offered. On this Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, is there a physical cross that has been significant in your prayer life or faith journey? Can you make a pilgrimage to sit before it today?