Crosses

The Cross is a universal symbol. It is to be found everywhere, even in the constellations. It is in effect two intersecting lines, people interlacing arms in order to gee someone up – that is, a Cross provides support, it is a foundation, unlike a single line (a wall, a tower), which can easily be broken. A Cross was used in Roman times as a shameful means of putting someone to death. I imagine it is agonizing. The person on the Cross is at their most vulnerable, all parts exposed, arms outstretched. There is nowhere to hide. For God made man, it is the ultimate act of giving, nothing held back. For us, it is the denial of the ego, of our selfish impulses, because the Cross represents the ego (I) with a line drawn through it: †. It also represents, however, a plus-sign: +. This is what Christ meant by his seemingly paradoxical statement: “Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 10:39). Jesus tells us to “deny ourselves, take up our Cross and follow him” (Matthew 16:24). We curb our passions, don’t give in to anger or lust, don’t try to avoid suffering. We endure, albeit only for a moment, and find our sight has been cleansed, our spiritual eye (I) has been opened (O). We count down, from 1 to 0. The Cross is a doorway, a signal of intent. Push a little, and it opens. Reveals the light. Like a child’s fist.

These are Crosses I have come across in my everyday life, in Bulgaria and other countries, on holiday or while performing an errand. I hope these photographs will serve to remind us of the presence of God in our daily lives.

This photo was taken in Alanya, Turkey. A double Cross like this is quite unusual.
This photo was taken at Cherepish Monastery, north of Sofia. I love the way the light has cast a shadow of the window on the first row of saints.
Kladnitsa Monastery, near Sofia. Eaves also form a Cross.
Vakarel Monastery, just east of Sofia. A Cross in the sky is similar to a face (a brow, mouth and two eyes).
Gabra, east of Sofia. Bent grasses draw Crosses all over the place.
This is one of my favourite Bulgarian monasteries – Seslavtsi, near Sofia, with its remarkable and rarely seen early seventeenth-century frescoes. The metal bars of the window have cast their own Cross on the wall.
Nedelishte Monastery. This was not an easy monastery to get to, in the west of Bulgaria, near the border with Serbia. I love the way the cobweb has formed a Cross with the window. To the right, the unmercenary physician Saint Panteleimon.
Gorni Pasarel Monastery, Sofia. This monastery is just a shell. The Cross is like a key. Of course, the two leaves of the door also form a Cross.
Dolni Pasarel Monastery, Sofia. Here the plaster has fallen away to reveal the beams.
This is a magical place – the Seven Rila Lakes. I was struck by the vein in the rock and the crack. Note the little stones that have become lodged there.
A photo from Wisley Gardens in Surrey, England. The fountain has formed a Cross.
The shadow from a bridge has cast a rather dramatic Cross on the waters of the Douro River in Porto, Portugal.
The intersection of an oar and a rowlock have created a rather beautiful Cross in the fishing town of Bueu, Galicia (north-west Spain). Note the strange writing, which actually says “lagoas” (“lagoons”), reflected in the water.
Mooring ropes in Bueu have the same effect.
This for me is a remarkable photo because the fishing boat’s winch in Rianxo, west Galicia, really does resemble a Crucifix.
During a walk on Vitosha, the mountain south of Sofia, I came across two twigs perfectly positioned to resemble a Cross.
This photo was taken at Kadamliya Waterfall in central Bulgaria. The tree and the rock form a Cross with the grass. How the tree remains rooted to the spot, I do not know!
This pink evening primrose in Velingrad, Bulgaria, forms a perfect Cross.
A brown insect that bears an uncanny resemblance to the Crucifix.
This is a different kind of winch – for lifting pilgrims in baskets to the aerial monasteries of Meteora in Greece. They don’t work anymore, and pilgrims have to climb stone steps instead.
Again, two twigs on Vitosha, the mountain south of Sofia, have formed a Cross, but here the Cross has a chain.
When we disembarked at Fiskardo on the Greek island of Cephalonia, I was struck by the Cross revealed by plaster on the wall.
I tried many times to capture this Cross, a reflection that appeared in the morning on a house in Sofia.
The classic Cross – two contrails in Berlin.
A dislodged paving stone on a street in Sofia.
Poppies have clear Crosses. This particularly luxurious specimen is to be found on the premises of the Georgian Patriarchate in Tbilisi.
Not all Crosses are pretty! This iron Cross is found in the village of Exogi, Ithaca.
On a walk on Ithaca, I came across this rather remarkable Cross formed by the vegetation.
I love this Cross, which has almost been obliterated by the footsteps of pilgrims on the Mount of Temptation outside the city of Jericho.
These girders in a basement in Metsovo, Greece, seem to represent Christ with the two thieves.

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