Black Cross

Georgia OKeeffe’s Black Cross hangs in the Chicago Museum of Art. The way she exaggerates and simplifies the objects she painted somehow brings spiritual clarity.

Black Cross stands off center and is magnificently strong. An orange red and yellow horizon glows just above the horizontal wood arms of the cross that stretch beyond the canvas. Below gray mountains roll as far as the eye can see. The exaggerated strong beams of the cross become a shadowed lens as one views the landscape ahead.

The cross is the central image of Christianity because it unites heaven and earth. The pain and suffering in life are not evidence that we are cursed or forgotten. Instead Jesus taught that the suffering of this life even death itself is dramatic stage for love to be known, shared, and experienced.

“love endures all things”

Last week I stood next to my father’s hospital bed. He was so weak. His body required life support to breath and for his heart to pump. There was no fixing him. I rubbed his feet, I read to him, I told him jokes, I held his hand and caressed his head. But I did not pray he would live. I did not leave his side until his last shallow exhale.

Death is not the worst thing. It can be untimely, painful, ugly, violent, and feel cruel. But it is not the worst part of the human experience.

Jesus taught us this truth. To see through death to the horizon ahead.

So often we fight the wrong battles. We fear the wrong enemy.

Jesus taught the disciples to take up their cross, to lose their life to find it. Jesus viewed death as an entrance, a doorway, as a beginning.

Spiritual maturity is discovered through the process of dying. Sin takes many forms. The definitions of a sin is anything that separates from God…or if it helps…anything that separates us from love. We all sin. We all have addictions, fears, possessiveness, violence, hatred, insecurities, and vanity that keep us from giving and receiving love.

Spirituality is the practice of letting die what does not serve love.

Helping my dad die was one of the most difficult and beautiful experiences in my life. The invitation for me was to gently let go of all the thoughts that hammered at my mind, “this is awful, I don’t want him to die, I don’t want to see this”. And stay. In letting go, I also found the way to love. In letting go, I made room to sense true love.

In dying we are born to eternal life.

Observe Good Friday in some way today. Whether it be alone or in a strange church or in the familiar Sanctuary. Find a way to sit in front of a cross. Sit with Jesus. And long to die to what separates you from love. Long for a world to die to sin and become just, peaceful, and loving.


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