Dorothy’s Cross

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Dorothy was the kind of relative one needs a chart to understand. Married to the cousin of my grandmother. She seventy. I seven. She the giver of baggies of treats, cans of coke, sweet smiles. She the scolder when her sister told tales of Gypsies coming to take naughty children away.

They lived in an old farm house in Blissfield, Michigan. Green forever. Tractors rumbling. Dirt roads for miles. For this city-born-and-bred girl, the country was magic. I needed no unicorns or fairies. All I needed was a visit to Blissfield.

In her room which was of white bedspread, wood floor, old furniture, the curtains always seemed to dance, the breeze playing with them through the open windows. On the wall beside her bed hung a cross. Not like a cross in my Methodist Church. Dorothy’s cross didn’t have the red flame of the Holy Spirit flickering around the wood. Dorothy’s cross had Jesus, still pinned to the bars.

I didn’t like to look at Dorothy’s cross. Jesus only wore a cloth around his middle, it draped in a way that embarrassed me. Red dripped from curled-up hands, flattened feet. The deep-carved gash in His ribs put a pain in my side. I didn’t like to look at Dorothy’s cross. But the sadness on His face held me. I’d struggle up onto Dorothy’s crisp, white bedspread and look at Jesus until my mom called me to go on outside or to sit and visit for awhile.

I’ve heard it said that Protestants don’t have Jesus on their crosses because they train their eyes on Easter. Jesus didn’t stay dead. He came back. Christ the Lord is risen today! Ha-ah-ah-ah-ah-le-e-lu-u-ia!

That’s good. It’s right. Christ had the victory over sin and the grave. We rush past the pain and betrayal and forsaking, the rending of the skies and Temple curtain. We trample over the grieving Mary and the scattering disciples.

It’s Friday but Sunday is coming.

Yes. It comes. But don’t skip ahead. Today, this Good Friday, is every bit as important as the third day, the coming Easter.

Today I remember the thorns jabbing his scalp and the nails impaling his palms. I remember God’s back turned to His beloved because the darkness of sin on Him was too rancid. I remember that Jesus, in taking our sin, absorbed it into Himself: the hate, the lies, the bitterness, the abuse, sin too ugly to think on. I remember He called out to His Father who did not answer.

Today I remember Dorothy’s cross. My feet dangling off the edge of her perfectly made bed and my eyes looking at Jesus’ feed suspended by a nail driven into a crudely made cross.

On Good Friday, I let grief swell in my heart.

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