In order to realize the full magnitude of this photo, you have to double click on it to view it properly. Then scroll to the photo’s bottom edge where you’ll see two children dwarfed by the gi-normous cross in front of which they stand. The photo was taken by Daniel Kirk – http://www.jrdkirk.com/ – a professor and theologian friend of mine. I found it so moving I wanted a copy of it for myself.
I don’t know how to articulate the mystery of the death and resurrection of Jesus. The closest association I have is when my mother took her own life. This should have been the darkest hour I’ve ever experienced and although it was indeed brutal, I simultaneously felt sheltered by a force beyond comprehension. Something cradled me with love and protection in a way I had never before experienced from humans. In that moment – that extended for a few weeks and months, all the chaos, fear and despair connected to my mom’s mental illness seemed to evaporate like mist. The particles of a traumatic life were in the air but were dissipating.
Jesus said, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28) When my mom died, I sensed that was what he might have said to my mom as she stumbled on the streets and overdosed on pills. And as he cradled her in his arms, I felt him simultaneously doing the same to me.
Many people consider suicide a sin. And yet, my mom gave birth to me twice – when she went into labor and when she died. Her final actions were catalyzed by deep exhaustion and despair but underneath that, there was a trace of genuine love and self-sacrifice as evidenced by her goodbye letter to me. While it may be a distortion of the gospels to say she laid down her life so that another could live, there was enough truth in her action that I suddenly understood the resurrection.
So yes, we come to him – often, weary, tired and weak. And we feel not only the shelter of the cross but its sheer magnitude that can knock us immediately to our knees.
Pictures do indeed say a thousand words.