Friday, June 10, 2011

Why I don't wear a cross

People always ask me why I don't wear a cross. Apparently I strike them as a person who should. I own several necklaces with beautiful crosses - some simple, some seriously bling bling. During other seasons of my life I have worn them. There's definitely a point of remembrance when you look in the mirror, straighten out the clasp or reach to your neck. I get it.

But, I also get that there's a whole bunch of people using Jesus as jewelry and eventually that just kind of got on my nerves a little bit. Oh, I think some people wear it for the right reasons, but some not so much. Plus, I think if you're going to wear Jesus you should act like Him which is EXACTLY why I have nothing spiritually related on my Jeep :)

I digress.

Anyone who has known me for 5 minutes knows my favorite book in all the world is Between the Dreaming and the Coming True by Robert Benson. He makes the point that we have all come from God and we are on our way back home to Him. In essence-a journey.

My life with the Lord is a journey for sure and I'm certain I wouldn't have it any other way. When I found this necklace a few years ago I knew it was perfect. I've rarely taken it off since. It's a compass and the other side says, "There's no shortcut to anywhere worth going."

No, it's not a cross. But, when I move the clasp around, see it in the mirror or take it off on occasion I do stop and remember. I remember that I'm on the way home to Him and every day brings me 24 hours closer. And as I hold it in my hand I whisper a prayer, "Thank you that you're on the journey with me."


Cura Animarum said...

My cross for me has always been a sign of the vocation I have been called to...for myself rather than for others. Initially it took a lot of courage for me to wear it externally. (rather than tucked under my shirt where I could be Christian in private) I remember being very nervous going to work and wondering if my employer would make me take it off or someone would complain. Then it was a small wooden one I was given at my Confirmation.

Much like your compass (which is itself rather cross-like in design)I would find myself holding it when I needed reminding throughout the day as to who I was now, and what that meant in this situation or that.

My next cross was two small wooden sticks bound together with copper wire. Still on a plain black cord. Still worn for the same reasons.

That one lasted for about 3 years but must have been getting pretty worn and rough looking (ok...I did have to glue the sticks together eventually) because when my daughter was 5 and went shopping for a Christmas present for me for the first time, Melissa tells me she zeroed in on a silver smith in the mall who had a slightly larger version of what I was already wearing but bound and wound all in sliver wire.

I still remember how excited she was when she handed it to me. She was beaming from ear to ear and when I opened it she shouted "I knew you needed a new one you like it? Do you Like it?"

I had a new reason now to add to why I wear it, and I loved when people would ask me about my unusual cross because I could tell them the story and remember her joy and excitement all over again.

A couple of years ago, while walking the hills of St. Micheal's retreat slipped off of the rough black cord I still used and was lost. I searched and search those grounds for the rest of the weekend...and cried and cried, and cried at its loss.

The one I wear today still hangs on a rough black cord. It is a brass replica of a 4th Century Byzantine cross (ok, the guy I bought it from claims it's authentic know how these things go). My original Catholic roots are Ukrainian and those Easter Byzantine rites are some of the most beautifully transcendent celebrations I've attended, and Eastern Spiritual Practice of Iconography and mysticism resonates quite deeply with me so its' a good fit.

It also has a bit of a story, though not nearly as deeply touching as the one that came before it. The guy I purchased it from claims it belonged to a Roman soldier and was dug up from the battlefield upon which he died. I try to picture sometimes the continuity of ages between this fantasy soldier and myself especially when I, as I still need to most every day, grip it tightly to remind myself who, and whose I really am.

Loved your post Brenda...and the reflections it has led me to!

Cura Animarum said...

PS: I'm almost done reading Benson's 'A Good Life: Benedict's Guide to Everyday Joy" LOVE it too! I'll have to check out 'Between the Dreaming and the Coming True' sometime this summer.

Brenda Finkle said...

I cringe when I see Christians wearing the cross, our symbol of the ultimate sacrifice and love, and acting anything but Christ-like. I agree with you Brenda and am very, very cautious about what I wear. Try as I might to be as much like Jesus as I possibly can - I am a frail human and as such fail miserably. I sure don't want someone see my cross (and possibly bad behavior) decide against coming to Jesus. My nightmare.

Love Eric's story of his crosses. So meaningful vs just another piece of jewelry and no understanding of the ripple effect.

Cura Animarum said...

"I sure don't want someone see my cross (and possibly bad behavior) decide against coming to Jesus."

I see that as a huge benefit in the cross. It holds us accountable, we have to contend with it's overwhelming invitation to be Christ-like...and realize that we are wholly inadequate in accomplishing it on our own. It humbling. I'm afraid that I won't live up to it, but each time I grasp it, see it in the mirror, feel it's weight against my heart...I can't ignore it's call.