by Melinda Creech, guest blogger for Lent
The third line of the sonnet is “When powerless to stand your strength gave way.” The third, seventh, and ninth stations of the cross commemorate places where Jesus fell along the path from the place where he was condemned to Golgotha, the place of the skull, where he was crucified. There are no records of these falls in the gospels.
Psalm 75:3 reminds us “When the earth and all its inhabitants dissolve in fear, I make its pillars secure.” I’m sure there have been many times this year when we were afraid that the pillars of the earth were shaking. It was hard to imagine that the Lord held them securely. It is difficult to imagine that the all-powerful God would divest himself of power in such a way to taste our humanity. Isaiah 53 gives us a glimpse into that suffering.
He was despised and rejected by people, one who experienced pain and was acquainted with illness; people hid their faces from him; he was despised, and we considered him insignificant. But he lifted up our illnesses, he carried our pain; even though we thought he was being punished, attacked by God, and afflicted for something he had done. He was wounded because of our rebellious deeds, crushed because of our sins; he endured punishment that made us well; because of his wounds we have been healed. All of us had wandered off like sheep; each of us had strayed off on his own path, but the Lord caused the sin of all of us to attack him. Isaiah 53: 3-6
I think I will choose images of all kinds of crosses for these three panes, recognizing that every person sees and experiences suffering a little bit differently. But Jesus carried all our pain.
The fourth line of the sonnet is “Your eyes caressed the one who gave your name.” Although this episode of Jesus seeing Mary as he is carrying his cross is not recorded in the Bible, the gospels do record that the women that accompanied him from Galilee were there (Luke 23:49) and that Mary was present at the crucifixion (Matthew 27:55-56; Mark 15:40-41; John 19:25-27). If their eyes did meet along the way, what an interchange of emotion that must have been.
I am reminded of all the eyes in the stories of Jesus, how the eyes of the synagogue were fixed on Jesus when he read the words of Isaiah 61, how he looked with compassion on the crowds, how he touched the eyes of the blind man, how his disciples couldn’t keep their eyes open. I am also reminded of the songs we sing about Jesus’ eyes — “His Eye is on the Sparrow” and “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus.” What sorrow and love must have been expressed when the eyes of Jesus and Mary met that day.
For this pane I have chosen an abstract image of Mary and the baby Jesus. That day Mary must have remembered the first moment she held him and looked into his eyes and called him “Jesus.” She probably also remembered Simeon’s prophecy that a sword would pierce her heart.