A few days ago in my Facebook feed, a year-ago memory popped up—it was a picture from our mosaic cross in process last Lent. A few people commented.
One person said, “I am not sure we will ever come up with another idea that was as meaningful as this one was. Every week it brings me a sense of community and peace.” Another said, “Every time I look at that cross I fondly think of my deceased sister who is no longer suffering.” Another: “When I see ‘our cross,’ I think of each person adding a piece of glass, and that they were probably thinking of someone special to them, or perhaps themselves, and I believe the whole finished product is infused with the gamut of human emotion. It’s the most beautiful cross I’ve ever seen.”
Then I realized this is the first Lent we’ll have the completed cross to guide us in worship.
What does it mean for us, this broken cross, on Ash Wednesday? Ash Wednesday, a day of penitence, a day of contrition, a day when we acknowledge just how incomplete and un-whole we are? The day we receive the ashes and remember our mortality—from dust we have come and to dust we shall return.
Perhaps this mosaic cross offers us a visual reminder of our brokenness….and of the fact that we are not alone in our brokenness… and perhaps it will remind us that, even in brokenness, there is beauty. As confess our sin—our brokenness—may we find in this beautiful creation, comfort and challenge and peace.
Our theme for Lent is journeying to the cross with Jesus. I worried when we installed the mosaic cross that it would feel redundant. We’ve already got a beautiful cross in the space, one created by a member of the congregation when the church was built.
As we begin our Lenten journey today, though, I’m liking the visual…it’s almost like we’ll be journeying from this broken cross to the cross of resurrection. It won’t be an easy journey. It will be hard. And painful. And exhausting.
But, if we’re able to sit with the brokenness and the pain and the exhaustion, from that brokenness will emerge deep healing and comfort and hope and joy.
And the journey begins with the ritual of the imposition of the ashes. The reminder that from dust we have come and to dust we shall return…. From nothing we have come to nothing we shall go…we begin life as a speck; we end it as less than a speck…but if we’re mindful, if we seek to live wide-awake and fully present to every part of our lives, even the hard parts, we might just discover in the beautiful in between a holiness that heals and comforts and makes us whole.