The Second Waypoint: Jesus Carries His Cross and Falls Under Its Weight

We walk on into the forest a little way past the power line and toward a tree, which though standing, is dead. Its bark is stripped, exposing the tender flesh. We notice the death of this tree and the other trees that have died near the power line, some cut down to make way, some diseased. They bring to mind the clear cuts that have ravaged this land to make human life convenient and comfortable. The power line itself, and others like it, carry currents generated from the coal unearthed in mountain top removal, or from gas extracted by fracking of the earth. The soil underfoot is loose and damaged, reminding us of the death of soil due to the violence of industrial agriculture.

The soldiers took Jesus, the mocked him and spat on him. They twisted some thorns into a crown and put it on his head…and they led him to the bar on which he would be crucified and ordered him to take it up. Jesus began to carry the heavy wooden crossbar along the path from Jerusalem to Golgotha which means, “place of the skulls.” Some say he stumbled and fell under the weight of the cross. Perhaps he remembered the words of Job: “I have rubbed my face in the dust. My breath grows weak.”

It was the practice of the Roman Empire to make those who were to be executed by crucifixion carry the horizontal bar that would be nailed to the vertical pole from which they would hang. Jesus, weakened by torture, fell under its weight. The fear we carry, fear that can make us react with anger and violence, is heavy, a weight that can bring us down into the dust. There we lose our ability to breathe, to take in air, and so to be alive. Meanwhile, the harm we have wreaked on others with our harsh defenses and offenses, gives rise to all kinds of violence, often with guns. Here we bring to our hearts those who have been killed or maimed by guns, whether in war, or on our streets, or in our churches, synagogues, schools. We bring to our hearts our earth, suffering the violence of blasting, drilling, gouging, poisoning. We bring to our hearts those among us who seek to overcome fear with love.

This waypoint confronts us with the uncomfortable realization that stumbling and falling is inevitable. We don’t want to stumble. We resist falling. We want to avoid rubbing our face in the dust at all costs. But there is no other way. We will be brought low. While down, will we still breathe? Can we accept, like Jesus, that descent is part of the journey? Can we trust the depths, the wisdom and love that waits in darkness?

Continue to the Third Waypoint (Click Here)

Filming and editing by Katie Jones Pomeroy // Online design and social media coordination by Joy Houck Bauer