Monday 30 June 2008

XIII. Jesus is taken down from the Cross

XIII. Jesus is taken down from the cross

We adore you O Christ and we praise you
Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world

It was now evening, and since it was preparation day - that is, the day before the Sabbath -there came Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the council, who himself lived in hope of seeing the Kingdom of God, and he boldly went into the presence of Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Pilate, astonished that he should have died so soon, summoned the Centurion and enquired if he had been dead for some time. Having been assured of this by the Centurion, he granted the corpse to Joseph who brought a shroud, took Jesus down from the cross, wrapped him in the shroud and laid him a tomb which had been hewn out of rock. He then rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. Mary of Magdala and Mary the mother of Joset took note of where he was laid.

Mark 15: 42 - 47

XII. Jesus Dies

(Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be)

Monday 16 June 2008

XII. Jesus Dies

'Show us that you understand what is costs the human being to love'

'The cross shows us love wounded beyond endurance and love affirmed beyond death. It is God's acknowledgement that humankind too bears the wounds of love, that in making us in God's image God made us for love's wounding. How can this be shown? How can this be offered? Come God, let us make you in our image and see you suffer as we do. Tell us you understand. Show us that you know what a parent feels like when a child is murdered. Let us see how you would feel if you were betrayed by those that you trust and abandoned by your friends. Prove to us that your love would not weaken even if you were stripped, abused and humiliated because you would not meet violence with violence. Show us that you understand what it costs the human being to love. Show us that you wouldn't weaken if you had to suffer as we do. Become for us all the love and all the heartache of all the world, but more than that, become for us all the agony and all the dying of the world. Be vulnerable, like us. And show that love's vulnerability is greater than death's annihilating power. Show us that the forces of negation cannot quench love's presence. Let us test you to the limits of your endurance, and then we will forgive you for making us creatures in the image of your crucified love. And if you survive the test, then will you forgive us?'

Sunday 15 June 2008

XII. Jesus Dies

XII. Jesus Dies

We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you.
Because, by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.

When the sixth hour came there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, 'Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?' which means, 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?' When some of those who stood by heard this, they said, 'Listen, he is calling on Elijah.' Someone ran and soaked a sponge in vinegar and, putting it on a reed, gave it to him to drink saying, 'Wait! And see if Elijah will come to take him down.' But Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last. And the veil of the sanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom. The centurion, who was standing there in front of him, had seen how he had died, and he said, 'In truth this man was Son of God.'
Mark 15: 33 - 39

XI. Jesus is nailed to the Cross

My despised Jesus,
nail my heart to the cross
that it may remain there to love you and never leave you again.
I love you more than I love myself;
I am sorry for ever having offended you.
Never permit me to offend you again.
Grant that I may love you always;
and then do with me as you will

(Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be)

Let me share with you this pain,
who for all our sins was slain,
who for me in torments died.

Thursday 5 June 2008

Willow - Miaow

Willow, the best cat and alter ego of Lost Causes, was tragically killed yesterday in a hit and run road accident. I cannot quite believe that she is gone.

Willow was born in Kingsley Road, Bedford. Her mother, Bramble 
was a British Blue and her Father Aleel, a longhaired Persian Blue. She was born in mine and Gemma's bedroom on a school day, around 1993. It seemed to us as though Bramble had been pregnant for ages. So long in fact, that we did not bother running up the stairs to check on her that day. It was Ma that found the new family when she came home from school. Willow had two brothers and a sister. Sadly, her twin brother died in Gemma's hands when he was just a few days old. He had been the weakest kitten, and despite our every attempt to hand rear him, he was not strong enough for this world. Willow, her brother Moth and sister Cobweb ruled our house while they were growing up. They climbed the curtains, ran around the kitchen, and intimidated the other cats. Cobweb and Moth moved out when they were 12 weeks old, but Willow stayed. Her favourite sleeping position was upside down in your lap with all four paws in the air. Cobweb, Moth, Bramble and Aleel have all since passed away - all, tragically, in car accidents.

I could not say that Willow was a hunter, but she did enthusiastically chase leaves in the autumn. Then she would bring them in and give them to you. I think she caught a bird once, but Gemma's says it was probably dead already. As she got older Willow became a much more sedate creature. She snoozed on the window sill, or under the table. When she was hungry she used to sit directly in front of you and stare, until you got the message. She liked visitors, especially if they wore black trousers. She could ruin an entire outfit in seconds. Willow always jumped on the guests. Of, if not, she made entertaining farting noises from behind the chairs. Hopefully, through her nose, but not always.

I could say that Willow's face was 'remarkable', but 'odd' would fit the bill better. Her nose was so squashed into her face that if you laid a piece of ham on the floor she would have to spend hours trying to lick it up. She loved to drink water, generally from a pint glass with her head stuffed half way down it. She was a very patient cat; even just days before her death she had been picked up by Charlie (Age 2) and hauled into the sitting room, back legs dragging. She never scratched or complained (much). Charlie was the last of many nieces and nephews to make friends with her; I am sure she loved them all, even if she could hide in under 30 seconds at the sound of a human under 2 feet tall.

The last thing I saw Willow doing was eating grass in the front drive. She had gone out for her evening stroll. No doubt she was headed across the road to find a meal from one of her many neighbour friends who kept her in the lifestyle to which she had become accustomed. I never thought Willow would be killed by a car. She was an elderly and contented cat. She had been very sick recently and I always felt that I would find her curled up quietly under a table someplace. The suddenness of her death does not suit her. Willow never rushed anything. It took her an hour to eat breakfast. Taking a bath took the whole day. Willow taught me lots about patience, gentleness and gratitude. She has inspired some of the best cat photography in our family. She was the best cat and she will be sorely missed. 
RIP Willow, see you in cat heaven. I hope there are leaves, window sills, tables and pint glasses there for you, and no cars.

Monday 2 June 2008

XI. Jesus is nailed to the Cross

I have been avoiding this. When I started this journey through the stations of the cross I thought it would be easy. A mental pilgrimage would have to be easier than treking through the mountains and mesetas of Spain on route to Santiago de Compostela, and surely it would be less tiring than the Lourdes prayer, procession, play, prayer, procession, play. The trouble is, a mental pilgrimage occupies your thought space. The reality of the stations of the cross is that they are haunting. On a physical journey you stop, contemplate, get up and move on. This is significantly more challenging mentally. The protagonist, Elaine, in Margaret Atwood's Cat's Eye describes time 'like a series of liquid transparencies, one laid on top of another.' If time were linear her childhood would drift out of sight, but instead she finds that 'sometimes this comes to the surface, sometimes that, sometimes nothing. Nothing goes away.' This seems to me to be an accurate description of my own relationship to the Stations. In an ordinary journey I would have to physically get up and move, but in my mind I can look through the stations 'like water', and gleam from them a complexity of meanings - some common to others, some more personal.

'Nailed' seems to me similar to 'trapped'. It is a painful loss of freedom. It has to be imposed. People get trapped through a loss of freedom by all sorts of things. They get 'nailed' by life. I am not quite sure what this has to do with the crucifixion of Christ. But, somehow there is a connection. In a dialogue with his sufi Muslim neighbour Christian de Cherge has clarified for him the three crosses present in the crucifixion.

'Which one comes from God?' Christian asked him
'The one behind'
'Which is the oldest?'
'The one in front...God had to create the first one before man could make the second one'
'What is the meaning of the cross in front,
of the man with his arms extended?'
'When I extend my arms', he said, 'its for embracing, for loving.'
'And the other?' I asked?
' The other cross is an instrument of hatred, for disfiguring love.'

The third cross, the conversation goes on to clarify, is the journey that people make to separate themselves from the cross of evil behind them to bind themselves to the cross of love in front. It was love that bound Jesus to the cross. It is love which frees people from entrapment. It is love which draws people through the stations of the cross - otherwise, what would be the point?