I tried my best to keep close to person in front, not looking up, not making eye contact with the shop owners or Israeli guards as we weaved in and out of the crowds. The narrow streets partnered with the patter of dozens of feet on the weathered pavers echoing on the ancient stone walls made it hard to focus on anything. People on their way to work, to prayer or their homes scurried on by, while I, the white protestant girl from Texas stood out like a sore thumb, wandering through the streets of Jerusalem. The sights and the smells and sounds were overwhelming so that it would have been easy to miss what was carved out in the stone… “ST. VI”
“What is that?”
“Via Dolorosa. The Way of The Cross. This road is said to be the way Jesus walked on his way to be crucified.”
“Jesus walked here?” I thought as we were swept back into the wave of people. Was I supposed to feel something? Should I have somehow magically known I was walking along the same path as God Incarnate? Either way, I had no choice but to keep walking, tucking the moment away for a later time when I could better digest it.
Somewhere along the way gut-wrenching, life changing account of the Passion became merely a story to listen to, evoking just enough sadness and grief so that I would have something to look forward to on Easter Sunday.
I think I missed the point.
I had put the story at arms’ length, keeping it just far away enough so that thinking about this suffering wouldn’t completely rip me apart. And as a result, God became this distant being, far away in Heaven.
Again, I think I missed the point.
We don’t meditate on Christ’s sufferings to expose guilt or remorse in us, we meditate on it in part to remind us that God is not far off and distant, but God is with us, experiencing even the most brutal parts of life with us through Christ. When God decided to send a son to earth to walk among us, it was God demonstrating holy love for us in the best way possible. Through God-made-flesh, we are reminded that we are never alone.