We all have our “cross to bear”…something (or some THINGS) that causes us despair or suffering in our lives. Sometimes these crosses not only cause us to fall, but cause others to suffer in our failing. I find the story of Jesus failing and Simon of Cyrene yet another example of the New Testament bearing the challenges of life into prose and example, and while I am not here to debate the veracity of the story, I am certainly understanding of its place in our lives.
I can personally speak of many things in my early life that led to tremendous failing later in it. There are literally an encyclopedia of instances and times that created my cross, that which I bore for most of my life. There are probably many examples in your own life you can site as a “cross”, and a few times when that cross just became too much to bear. In our weakness, we dropped the weight, fell to our knees exhausted and in utter despair. In other times, we stood weary and weak but defiant, finding our own method of dealing with the torture in our minds, our souls, our “being”. Some turn to drugs, some turn to suicide, some turn to continuous and unrelenting self-destructive behavior meant on “protecting” that self from the dirt below.
I have always found it odd that in my need for self protection and in the practice of self-destructive behavior to that end I seemed to only “wet the wood” of my cross. In that, I made it much heavier than it need be, and the cross itself was only too willing to accept my offering. Stranger yet, the more I “wet” the wood, the more I sought to defy it, as if I knew more that the weight suggested I did. I can only say today that as I stare at the scars on my knees, the bruises on my shoulders and the splinters on my back that I obviously knew far less than I believed. Each scar and bruise is a lesson learned (hopefully), each splinter an example of the futility of attachment, the suffering of ego.
It was only when I could offer my cross to someone willing to bear it with me that I could see the absolute idiocy of attachment to the pain of the past. We all can site a dozen examples of pain in our past we hold on to today. I have heard from friends who have suffered so intensely, not because of the pain itself, but because of their attachment to it.They can’t let go of it, and they use it as a reason or cause for any assortment of issues they have today. Still, when we pass off the lumber to someone we love, we find it utterly torturous to have them deal with the suffering our attachment to pain has caused. In some, this creates unmatched suffering and a dysfunction, to others it causes an awareness of the lunacy such attachment creates.
I can say that when I shared my cross, the suffering it created caused me to seek to shed it completely. That was the purpose of the sharing it seems, to light shed on the idiocy of holding onto it, to finally seek and end to the suffering and my attachment to it.
In our lives, we have many “soldiers” who will whip us into carrying our cross with false strength. They will continually use the “whip” of whatever power they have over use to push us forward, usually to the destination of their choosing. If we fail to reach their assigned destination, they use the power of their “whip” to complete the torture. Our cross (or our attachment to it) becomes their control over us, and we allow it because we ourselves have no identity without the cross we bear. If we also have an attachment to the soldier, we will not only carry the cross of our lives but also learn to love the whip in their hand. We see what they consider the necessary destination as our ultimate goal, that in somehow pleasing them by the sweat and blood of our brow we will find pleasure ourselves.
In this the soldier can be those we “love” or who “love” us. It can be mentors, husbands, wives, teachers, parents, siblings, or even just a best friend. The whip can be sexual in nature, or the return of love, or the idea that “forever” is more solidified. It can also be just a positive reaction, an feigned acceptance (acceptance can never be earned, it is always there). Perhaps in this metaphor we can see the relativity of this analogy in our own lives. If we can see it, we can become aware of it, and in the awareness such unhealthy darkness cannot survive.
There are times when our actions while carrying the cross cause other to suffer in our midst. Our own “Simons” bear the weight of our cross for us and in this suffer along with us. Some are pressed into service, like the guy at the bar we beat up for no real good reason, or the family we gave the finger to when the cut us off in traffic. Others volunteer (although some not knowingly) when they enter into a relationship with us. Regardless of the reason for their “assistance”, they are scarred nonetheless, hampered in the shared splinters and binding bruises. It seems as if their joining in our suffering only “wets the wood”, makes our cross all the heavier for their effort. We not only have to deal with the original carpenter of the cross, but now we have to deal with the guilt of putting them through pain on our behalf.
In this action and reaction, it seems perfectly acceptable for anger to be the method of reaction and guilt the continuance of the anger. In our Simons seeking change in us, they may use a variety of means to see this happen. We owe them somehow, or at the very least we find them seeking freedom from the memory. They, in turn, create their own little cross out of the splinters we leave them from ours. What seems worst, as we relinquish the control the cross has over us, it seems as if they cannot, they need to hold onto that cross as if it is the only thing between them and certain death. They become more than just our helpers, our partners, but now they become the soldiers destined to see us to THEIR destination.
I liken this event to getting water from a stone. You turn the spigot, nothing comes out, and you curse the stone. You do this for weeks and curse the stone each day for its failure. Suddenly, just as you seek to be finished with the stone, it produces a torrent. Do you still curse it? Or do you appreciate that it finally is doing as you need it to do. Sure, it took its time, but is it where you want it to be or are you where it WAS? Perhaps your lips are still cracked from thirst, but you seek to curse the stone for being a STONE…a strange occurrence at best. You seek to tie your condition to it, rather than understanding that things were as they were intended to be.
Perhaps we should just learn to love the stone for being a stone and a well for being a well. Accept them, and should the stone provide water for you love it just the same. It would seem that in keeping anger towards it for what it did yesterday, we seek to hold on to the attachment we created in our anger towards it. We create a cross that we simply do not wish to relinquish, and in that creation a bit of insanity uniquely ours. We become insane, a slave to pain and ego that will only seek to repeat itself over and over again!
At the end, perhaps we just need to love. We need to love those we are in love with today. We need to see them as they are, not as we would like them to be or how the WERE. We need to open our hearts and arms not to our vision of perfection we expect the other to be, but in an unselfish love that seeks to accept, not to pass judgments. Can we forgive? Can we live for today in a way that makes yesterday a forgotten moment and tomorrow unexpected? The answers to those questions will not just seek to create peace in our own lives, but growth to loving relationships that never fail.
Still, if we seek to “choose” we have failed in our quest already. Don’t choose, just BE. Don’t think, just BE. Don’t talk, just DO. And best of all, don’t question, just LOVE. These all happen simultaneously in acceptance and Being, and they are without effort or “work”. Be still, and these will happen. Learn to find the silence that allows the noise to be. Happiness abounds from this point forward.