Tomorrow is the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. During these turbulent times, a reflection:
The word TRAVEL comes from the same root as the word TRAVAIL. When one travels, when one moves to a new place, when one ventures out of one’s comfort zone to explore new things and new possibili- ties, there is always the possibility, if not the inevitability, of suffering and pain.
Life is hard. I am not saying that it has to be one long trudge for a few decades and then you die. (There is another saying similar to this.) No, life has joys and wonders and even delights and bliss. But don’t kid yourself, there are a lot difficult things in life. Work, relationships, illness and ultimately death. But knowing that there are crosses to bear, makes bearing them a bit more do-able, just as denying them doesn’t make them go away. As is becoming the theme of my life: the more you focus on the easy and the effortless, the more problematic and harder your life actually becomes. The journey, the way, the path will always have its difficulties.
That is why we are called to be people of endurance. I won’t name names, but I have known, in each and every one of the parishes I had the privilege to serve; strong, sturdy, solid, tough people. I was awed by these people. They were people who were willing to take up their cross, of work, of illness, of family and follow in the footsteps of Christ up the hills of their personal Calvarys.
How did they do it? Simply put, they were people of vision. In a reflection on martyrdom an au- thor wrote: Virtually every painting of someone being martyred has this motif, the martyr has his or her eyes lifted up towards heaven, in contrast to the eyes of the executioners and onlookers which are cast downwards in hatred, envy, and group-think or in the blank stare of mindlessness. People who are will- ing to take up their cross and follow in the footsteps of Christ, people of endurance, people who are not afraid of “the hard,” are people of vision. They can see beyond their trials, beyond their suffering, beyond their ordeal. That’s what keeps them going, that’s what fuels their love, that’s what helps them endure.
The lesson of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross is a harsh lesson, to be sure, but it is a lesson that if learned, will reap a bounty of Life, of Hope, of Goodness, of Peace, of Joy.