Stations of the Cross
We are numbed by the photographs of men and women, young and old, civilian and military, terrorist and peacekeeper, from every religious and ethnic background, lying dead or wounded with their clothing partially or totally ripped from their bodies by bullets, bombs or shrapnel. We especially mourn the young, not yet fully hatched into adulthood, who bear the burden of so much warfare and violence. Before being nailed to the cross, Jesus was stripped of his garments by the same dark forces of greed, hatred, fear, and oppression operative today.
A Florida topless bar, 2001. Immediately prior to leaving Florida for the attacks on the World Trade Center, Mohamed Atta and a fellow terrorist were reported to have visited a topless bar in the vicinity of their flight training school. Upon departing, they left a Koran. Some in the media said that this showed that they were simply hirelings as no devout Muslims would visit such a place nor leave behind the Holy Book. But perhaps instead they saw it as an act of religious courage – so strong now in their faith that religious zealots stumble, mishearing the call of God’s commandments and bringing death instead of life?
Wooden ironing board reconfigured to stand at different heights representing women’s toil. Each board supports an iron on which is attached a portrait of a young woman. They are of different ethnic makeup and races. The board covers are striped black and white to reference prison attire. Beneath each portrait hangs a simple white shift, lit and displaying a Star of David. On the way to his crucifixion, Jesus meets women of Jerusalem who mourn his fate. He cautions them not to weep for him but for themselves and their children given the days ahead saying: “Happy are the barren, the wombs that never bore a child…” And thus, 2,000 years later we find the same forces that put Jesus to death, murdering Jews and other “undesirables” in concentration camps, the murder led by those who called themselves Christian.
Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, mid 1990s. A 5-year siege of its residents (mainly Muslim) by Serbian forces (mainly Christian) leaving 12,000 dead (1,600 children), was the worst European siege since WWII. As the people began to starve, they slaughtered the zoo animals for food. We all stumble and fall but for what?
A white silk handkerchief hovers over an urn in the bottom of which rests an iridescent Blue Morpho butterfly. On the road to execution, a woman reaches out of the crowd and wipes Jesus’ face. Just to look at him – hair matted with blood, skin streaked with sweat and dirt – was painful, but to wipe his face in public was an act both of devotion and courage. Yet in this act, she recognizes the mystery of God’s grace in the eyes of her beloved.
New York City, 9/11. It is a warm and sunny September morning. There is comfort in the known environment, the familiar faces, even in that which is commonplace. Suddenly the sky rains fire down upon you and nothing is ever the same again. It is a warm and sunny day in Jerusalem where you have gone to conduct business and suddenly two soldiers from the occupying forces require you to carry the cross of a condemned man to the site of crucifixion. Nothing is ever the same again.
Clifford Goes to Dog School, Blue’s Big Birthday, Caillou, Angelina Has Wings, The Little Golden Book of God, Just Me And My Mom. Contemporary books mothers know from bedtime reading. Coupled with the photographs taken at eventful moments in a child’s life, they provide a data bank of memories. Many families ago a thirty-three-year-old Jesus looked into the eyes of his beloved mother and saw a well of sadness and suffering no theology could comfort. No more stories to be told. No more treasured moments to be captured by the camera of the eye. It was over and sorrow overwhelms.
A colonial styled courtroom jury box enclosing a pedestal-supported scorched corporal and iron. At the base is a pile of similarly scorched corporals representing those prophets of Israel condemned to death in previous eras. Off to both sides are banks of television sets broadcasting on static. Set among them are speakers proclaiming in twenty different languages “Crucify Him!” as Jesus is condemned to death. The media circus is over. The act of those in power has been accomplished.
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