“Sometimes there is a lot on our plate. Sometimes it is just too much what we have to bear. It is then that we realize what Jesus meant when he said everybody has to carry his cross,” begins Fr. Mauritius Wilde in his blog post, Embracing the Cross.
There are times in our lives when we feel that we have reached our limit, that what we have to bear seems more than we can cope with. It may be an overwhelming sense of loneliness, or grief, or seemingly insurmountable challenges, an accumulation of daily frustrations, or doubt, fear, anger, disappointment, or betrayal.
It may feel like a total exhaustion of mind, body, and spirit.
Sometimes these burdens are carried for some time and then, finally, come glimpses of light, a bit of relief. Other burdens may last for long periods of time, even a lifetime. We call these burdens, “our cross to bear.” Often, we make these exclamations melodramatically, but other times we know this is our truth—it isa cross. It is everyone’s truth.
But how do we manage our burdens? How do we willingly carry our cross? “Your pain is deep, and it won’t just go away… Your call is to bring that pain home. As long as your wounded part remains foreign to your adult self, your pain will injure you as well as others. Yes, you have to incorporate your pain into yourself. This is what Jesus means when he asks you to take up your cross… Taking up your cross means, first of all, befriending your wounds and letting them reveal to you your own truth.” –Henri Nouwen
Recently, I had an experience of overwhelming doubt. It came over me suddenly and profoundly, something like a panic attack. I could not think myself into calming down or talk myself into reason. It felt like I didn’t know what it was that I believed anymore. I felt isolated and afraid; the feelings were too much too fight, so I simply surrendered to the physical movement of walking the Stations of the Cross. At each Station, I prayed my pain into the place where Jesus was on his walk. I felt the falls, I felt the tears, I felt the rawness of the walk, and as I prayed through my pilgrimage, this physical ritual, I felt a union with the paschal mystery. I felt I was with Jesus and he was with me. I felt accompanied. I was not carrying my cross alone.
Again, how do we manage our burdens? How can we willingly carry our cross?
For insight, we return to Fr. Mauritius’ blog post, Embracing the Cross.
“Sometimes there is a lot on our plate. Sometimes it is just too much what we have to bear. It is then that we realize what Jesus meant when he said everybody has to carry his cross. During my sabbatical time a couple years ago, I had the privilege to visit Glendalough, a 6th century monastery village in Ireland. Nestled in beautiful landscape are ruins of monastery houses and chapels and also a tall cross about twelve feet high. I was told if one was able to wrap one’s arms around the cross while making a wish, the wish would become true. I tried this, along with many others, but to be honest, I forgot the wish I had and I forgot if it later became true. Still it was a nice ritual.” Finish reading Fr. Mauritius’ blog post here. Read more.