In the madness of dismissal at the local high school, a silvery glint on the wet sidewalk caught my eye. I noticed it being kicked along by the high school freshmen running for the buses in the rain. I was happy to keep moving. It was wet. I was cold. It wasn’t my job to pick up garbage.
I walked past it before processing that it was a cross getting trampled. That realization stopped me. I doubled back to pick it up, holding up my hand as I tried to keep from getting bowled over by the small mob behind me. The teens just filed by, paying no attention at all.
My rescue mission was over quickly. Or was it?
I’ve been carrying that cross around since I found it last week. All of this happening in the lead up to the Lenten season nudges me to look at it a little more deeply.
I’m filled with questions about this particular cross, because I am so very aware of it. It’s not burning a hole in my pocket, but I feel its presence. The weighty metal silver-tone construction with a decorative gold-tone overlay has substance. In other words, I know it’s there. All the time. Like I said, I can’t make sense of it. However, I don’t remove it either — I don’t want to — so now I carry a cross along with my keys.
It’s not like I don’t already carry a cross or two in my life. Sometimes I can forget them and take a break from their emotional weight. Perhaps I shouldn’t. But this little metal cross makes its presence known to me, so I make an effort to discern its message.
Am I to be Simon of Cyrene this Lent? Reluctant but compelled to carry Christ’s cross? Am I being asked to share a burden?
I am reluctant — slow to respond to God’s call. I’m ashamed to say it’s my MO although I struggle to overcome it. Some days my response is quicker than others. I appreciate the exercises that help me strengthen this weak resolve.
I’ve been given this cross, and I’m going to use it this season — use it to help me grow, however I am being led to.
I looked up some information about Simon of Cyrene. His name means “hearkening” or “listening.”
I think I get it. I’m always talking — an occupational hazard for a teacher. If I’m always talking, I’m not listening.
So I’m going to listen. This is a challenge for me, but “my heart is ready, O Lord.” What does a cross sound like? What is Jesus saying to me, from it? Can I carry what I learn, from what I hear, before others?
I want to spend more time in prayer — fewer petitions and more attentiveness.
I want to fast more — from food but also from other distractions.
I want to listen to the Word of God in Scripture.
Like Simon of Cyrene carrying Christ’s cross, I want to stay the course on this small cross, first dopped, then trampled, now rescued, perhaps to rescue me. A little weight in my pocket, full of mystery.
Maria Morera Johnson (@bego) teaches at Georgia Piedmont Technical College. Her book,My Badass Book of Saints: Courageous Women Who Showed Me How to Livewill be released in November. Find her bloghere, and follow her on Facebook.