When we walk in the back door from Sunday service, from the breaking of bread and thick intimacy of exchange, there’s this black pen lying on the table.
I pick up the pen and turn my wrist over. How many years had I cut that paling wrist, wearing my brokenness on the outside? I pick up the pen, and on a whim — on a conviction, kind of ridiculously desperate to remember the radical symbolism, to remember the union, the communion — I write it on my wrist, let it bleed like a vow right there into the thin white skin: one little black cross.
I am busted and His, and He is broken and given and mine.
I trace that one black cross: Can you dare to break yourself into a kind of communion, a kind of union? Can you let the way be made for broken places to re-member?
It’s like this is one wild dare to live cruciform, to let life become shaped like a cross. This could be a dare to let life be shaped like union.
It’s a dare to be married to mysteries so Christ has hands again in this world — and specifically mine.
All is sacred in the givenness — the givenness of God through everything, the surrender of everything to Him.
Like a Cross
Just take the first step. And then the next step. Courage is reaching out and taking just a bit of that iron-nail grace.
A book sits in a pond of light on the edge of the dresser. In the kitchen, a crumbling handful of yesterday’s cookies sits on a plate. When I wander out to the red mailbox at the end of our lane, I leave a book and brown paper bag of cookies for the mail carrier.
On the way in, I will myself to pick a bunch of zinnias and glads from the weedy, tangled patch masquerading as a garden. I say their name out loud as I pick — “glads, glads, glads.” Remind me. Rewire me. That cross on my wrist begs like a prayer:
Become cruciform. Like a cross. Transform.
If it is true that to become cruciform, to let your life become shaped like a cross, is to become more fully human — and most fully like Christ — then this is the work most urgent, most needed.
There’s a cross that is your backbone, and all you have to do is reach out your arms.
The way to find the light in the dark is to make your hand reach out — reach out in thanks, reach out in giving. And maybe your hand has to reach out so your heart keeps beating — so someone else keeps breathing. Maybe this can be a way to keep breaking the bread and reaching out to pass it down, right through brokenness.
How can I not keep reaching out while I’m still alive?
The way to break time’s hold on me is to be broken and given with my time.
Jesus died crying.
Jesus died of a broken heart. Those words were still warm on His cracked lips:
My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me? — Matthew 27:46
The movement of a life of faith is always toward answering that singular question.
I can see that question hanging over our farm table, up in the gable, from that framed canvas of a thousand little broken squares of color. In the semiabstract painting, there’s no tidy pattern, just light and dark bleeding into this subtle suggestion of Jesus hanging on the cross. He’s hoarse with the begging, for Himself, for us: “God, why have You abandoned Me?” And He surfaces in the patches of color, the broken brushstrokes, the silhouette of Him visible in the chaos — Christ entering all this chaos.
There is the truth: Blessed — lucky — are those who cry.
Blessed are those who are sad, who mourn, who feel the loss of what they love — because they will be held by the One who loves them.
There is a strange and aching happiness only the hurting know — for they shall be held.
I believed this then and believe it now and I’d say I know it to be true—but there is more than believing — there is living what you believe.
Excerpted with permission from Be the Gift by Ann Voskamp, copyright Ann Morton Voskamp.
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“There’s a cross that is your backbone, and all you have to do is reach out your arms.” Arms that shall be held. Do you believe it? This coming weekend, may we soak in the fullness and depth of Jesus’ love for us. May we absorb the gift and give in return. Come share your thoughts with us on our blog. We would love to hear from you about becoming cruciform. ~ Laurie McClure, Faith.Full