The other thing that sticks out to me through my week of training at the monastery were the crucifixes all around me. Everywhere I looked, whether it be in the chapel, the dining room, or my sparsely furnished bedroom, there was a crucifix.
As you might know, I have really been struggling with my health. I hate being this sick, and I often wonder why God allows me or anyone else for that matter to live with so much struggle. So for whatever reason, whenever I saw Jesus on the cross this week very obviously suffering, it actually brought me a little comfort. It always reminded me of Henri Nouwen saying that Jesus did not come to take away the pain of the world but to participate in it.
In my protestant circles, I almost never see a crucifix. Protestants use a cross without Jesus on it. We focus in on the resurrected body of Christ and therefore an empty cross.
There actually is an age old debate between Protestants and Catholics as to which version of the cross is the correct one. Some argue that the cross needs to demonstrate Jesus’ suffering body, whereas others say that if we stop there and don’t go to the resurrection then we are not finishing the story.
The words of a very wise mentor and friend kept ringing true in my head through the week. He feels strongly that we need both versions of the cross in order to have a complete picture of the Good News story. I am in 100% agreement with him.
(I would also say that fighting over this is yet another version of silly Christian infighting. But I digress.)
My takeaway from this will essentially be the reminder that God is not only with me, but completely understands my journey of struggle.
I think this will strengthen me in my journey of providing spiritual direction to others.
At least that’s my story and I’m sticking to it:)