Cross: reality

T. S. Eliot’s Four Quartets (Burnt Norton):

“Go, go, go, said the bird: human kind
Cannot bear very much reality.
Time past and time future
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.”

St James Dudley

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If you do a trawl of images surrounding Good Friday the majority of them are very sanitised. Little or no blood, no hint of the pain or the mess of what is happening. Often the scene is calm and surreal set in a pastoral landscape. 

But the reality is that the cross is part of the Roman world where torture and death was a part of every day life, especially if you were in opposition to the ruling regime.

The place of crucifixion is not where you ordinarily hang about. Often on the edge of the city the place where others had died before and dogs prowled around for scraps.

But this figure on this cross on this day does causes a stir. His story had gone around. Ans they come out to see what is gong on. And we too are asked to stop and see. 

To pause in the shadow of the cross, a shadow across His life from his birth and before. I recall see a nativity scene set up as the workshop of Joseph. The shadow of the cross was there in 3 nails and a hammer. The lighting threw a shadow which formed a cross, the signs of things to come.

On this most solemn day the cross is central and so is grief and pain. We want to turn away and look ahead to what we know happens on Sunday. But we must sit in the reality of this day. The mess, the noise, the smell, the rejection, the hatred, and ultimately the love.

We watch and wait. We bring our pain and our realities to this place of suffering and death. And we leave changed.  




The cross, an instrument of torture and death. 
The cross, a symbol of oppression of what happens if you oppose the regime.
The cross, not many linger underneath its shadow.
The cross, standing on the margins outside the city walls.
The cross, messy, full of horror and pain and death.
The cross, a place where we are asked to pause and stop.
The cross, wood and nails and blood and tears and cries.
The cross, full of words asking why?
The cross, a place of love.

                                                                                                            Catherine Evans-Routley 2021

A reflection with poetry and images