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September 14, 2004
To begin with, the Cross is shaped like a human being - there are the two arms, there are the legs. The arms open wide. They embrace the world, even if they can no longer move. The legs are still -- tied down, or even nailed down. Whether the cross is freely chosen or not, it is a complete surrender of all the freedom for which everyone longs. At the end, there is no freedom -- not even, in the end, the freedom to breathe.

New Agers don't like the cross much. It's negative. It's about death. How about the sun? The sun makes flowers grow, kisses my face when I am outside, filters through the leaves of trees and dapples the ground. Why not the sun?

Or how about the moon? A pearl riding the dark heavens, enthroned among stars. Well, why not the stars? Perhaps the stars are interested in our individual destinies -- perhaps they determine which business we should enter, whom we should marry. Perhaps we're that important to the cosmos.

Or how about an egg, silent, pregnant? Life cracks open its shell, sooner or later, and creeps forward into the light to begin its journey.

Why not one of these things? Things about life? Why an instrument of death? Why fashion one of wood to hold in your hand in times of trouble, of metal to hang around your neck? Why tattoo a Coptic child with one on his wrist, so that he may never deny his faith? Why celebrate death? Why not celebrate life?

But we do not celebrate death. We simply accept it as part of the human journey. We are interested in it, because we affirm that life in this beautiful world does not exhaust what life is, only begins to show us what life is. And that, although the beginning is magnificent, there is infinitely more than even this beauty. That those to whom this beauty is denied, those from whom it is taken by cruel force, those who never even open their eyes to see the sun, have a life beyond the beauty of this beautiful world.

And that the entire journey is a gift of love from a human being who is also the Son of God. All of it a gift -- the walk through this life. The entry into the next. The ageless abiding there.
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