Tag Archives: via dolorosa

18: Pressed into Service

18 StationV Jesster79 CC wiki

A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross.” Mark 16:21 NIV

Have you ever been shoved into the fray, given something to do you had no desire to do, finding yourself in the centre of a drama you thought was nothing to do with you? Pity Simon of Cyrene, likely a Jewish trader minding his own business, suddenly thrown into the greatest story ever told.

Was he near the front of the crowd to see what was happening, and next thing he was the thing that was happening? Had he heard about Jesus and the amazing things that were being claimed about this miracle maker? Was he passing on the trade route, used to being respected and then suddenly identified with this troublemaker simply because of his race? That is a story that has been played out time and time again in history, I suppose; the wrong colour skin, the wrong gender, the wrong creed, in the wrong place at the wrong time. And yet. I wonder if Simon might have looked back later and remembered his sudden encounter with Jesus joyfully.

Imagine if the saviour you first came into contact with was a beaten one. A bruised and bloody mess, covered in wounds and spittle. Would you still give him your life? Or do we all hanker for a clean cut, clean shaven, pristine saviour in a suit and tie, with perfect white teeth and a sensible hairstyle? Suppose the first thing he did in his brokenness was to have you carry a heavy load? So heavy that it made your shoulder burn and cut into your flesh? Would you still want to serve him? Would he still win your heart, God struggling and failing, falling and allowing weakness to shine?

Perhaps sometimes we are surprised by the ways Jesus enters our life, how he turns the strangest, even the vilest circumstances into holy encounter. For Simon, ever famed as the carrier of the cross, this seemingly chance pressganging led him into being the first (albeit unwilling) sharer of Christ’s sufferings, and no doubt he followed the rest of the story and watched, bent and sore from the load, and burning from the indignity, as a softly spoken Jewish brother was killed by a vicious regime, and at the same time, whether he knew it or not, saw God turn meekness to majesty, tragedy to triumph, death to life. Nothing would be the same ever again.



©Keren Dibbens-Wyatt

Photo by Jesster79 on Wikimedia used under creative commons license.

6: Wither goest thou?

6 wither Pippalou MF

“The earth dries up and withers, the world languishes and withers, the heavens languish with the earth.” Isaiah 24:4 NIV

More and more clearly it seems to me, life is about transformation from one kind of wholeness to another. And the road that lies between the two is brokenness. For life that begins at all, mostly comes through pain and chaos into a kind of perfection. New born babies, flowers as they first open, nestlings hatching, there is something about newness, youth, beginnings, that is flawless. No blemishes, no wounds, no lost petals to damage their symmetry. But this does not last long. My cat’s once perfect pink nose is now latticed with several scars hard won in garden skirmishes. My skin is not perfect and smooth any more (I recently tried to remove a loose eyelash with tweezers only to heartbreakingly discover it was a wrinkle), and the faultless pink gerbera in the vase that I gaze on now in wonder, will be wilting and decaying soon enough.

But the resurrection we witness also in nature and in the coming and going of the seasons tells us that there is something else afoot. And Jesus lived this out for us, to help even the densest among us begin to understand. Pain is temporary, even if it lasts an earthly lifetime. Death is not the end result. Suffering is a road, not a destination. People are fond of saying that about happiness, but we rarely see the other side of the coin, which is more encouraging for those of us already having a hard time. What we are going through means something, it is a path, a way, a becoming. The via dolorosa is part of the pilgrimage, not where we are headed. The Road to Emmaus is trudged by us all as we walk to a place of enlightenment and revelation, it is not the place we end up.

©Keren Dibbens-Wyatt

Photo from Morguefile.com

192: Place of Skulls

192 golgotha edouardo MF

Three prongs of a wooden pitchfork await us then, after the long and bloody climb that births a new pilgrimage. Flesh already shredded, hanging limp, needing lifting. A mock rising, a thorny gehenna, human refuse disposed of along with God’s golden boy. No longer any separation between the holy of holies and the thieving murderers, the wheat and the tares burn together, and the incense that rises opens the gates of heaven and hell, and all is let loose, so that even the moon burns and the sun melts and the curtain is unseamed.

Everything falls apart here, and the unexpectedness of its totality catches the enemy unawares, open mouthed, jaw in another dimension. All history transfixed by this pivot of pained perfection, in which everything is held together, in this eternal, beautiful, brokenness.


© Keren Dibbens-Wyatt 2016

Photo from morguefile.com