Symbols are great, but they can get lost in translation. It is therefore incumbent upon us to remember what the symbol points to and follow as best we can, hoping that on any given day one person in our family, in our community, in our friend group can help those who have forgotten to remember. Remember the cross.
In this way, I am truly a blessed woman. Because if Jesus cannot be moved from his position of steadfast love, then I do not have to fear my own shortcomings. Standing to the side and avoiding violence was the best I could do on the day of my mother’s funeral. My brother did waaaaay better. But our God is not a God of competition, so in this way, on that day, the cross did indeed serve as a reminder to me that I could do the best I could without fear of retribution. Thank God. I had all I could handle without the need to perform or pretend. But I am awfully glad that my brother was there to actually do what God does – refuse to be moved from a position of treating all people with respect, even ones who behave despicably. My brother brought the kingdom of God to my mother’s going away party. I benefitted from that even as my own ability to participate at full Princess Warrior status was not possible on that particular day.
This is why it matters so very much that we keep showing up for one another within the community we decide to cast our lot with whether we are taking up our cross and following or frozen in fear. When we are fighting mad or running for our lives, we can be reminded of the other way, the way of the cross, if we are in the company of someone who remembers the cross.
I get it now. This fascination with the cross is not just a macabre symbol of suffering. It is a reminder that faith indeed requires suffering for the sake of others so that the kingdom of God is ushered into our world.