Cross under Tree

This is one of my favourite stones, and it was found on a beach under the shade of the trees, overlooking the northern part of the island. I love the outline of the cross. It is so firmly established, so deep, like a trench, like an incision. The transverse beam is almost black, though in reality the stone is a little blue, blue like the open expanse of sky, the branches resembling the footprints of primitive monsters (waders or dinosaurs).

 

Meanwhile, in language, the cross is a denial of the self (the self in English is a line, I; the cross is the I with a line drawn through it). And yet this same cross can also be a plus-sign. This is one of the most wonderful of Christian paradoxes, and it is given to us by Christ himself in Matthew 10:39: “Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it” (NRSV). I think the cross indicates to us how it might be possible both to lose our life and to find it by being a plus-sign as well, but it is a difficult paradox to take, since I don’t think anyone wants to lose their life, to suffer persecution, to be poor. Perhaps it is more a change of attitude; we accept that the things of this world are not ends in themselves, but the means to giving and receiving love. This is why Christ invites us to lose our life “for his sake”; we are getting much more in return. And, in case we were in any doubt, there is the word connection, simple jumps in the alphabet, but invisible at first sight: lose-more (l-m, r-s). We lose our life, our self-centred concerns and ambitions, and find ourselves in Christ. “Find” may just turn out to be the purpose of “life” (steps in the alphabet, d-e, l-n).

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