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.

Jonathan Dunne

Triple Cross

In this stone, we are reminded of the Gospel accounts of the Crucifixion and how Christ was crucified with two bandits, one on either side. St Luke tells us that one of the criminals rebuked the other for mocking Christ, since they were there for crimes they had committed, whereas this man had done nothing wrong, and he asked Christ to remember him in his kingdom. According to tradition, the Good Thief was crucified to Christ’s right. We see Christ’s cross in the middle, a shining star in his face. The left part of the transverse beam, as we look it, may remind us of the boa constrictor digesting an elephant in The Little Prince. The Good Thief’s cross is similarly high, birds singing from the top of it, but the upright stake is missing and has been replaced by a white line, as if the Good Thief is already ascending into heaven. What is noticeable is the other thief’s cross, which is much smaller and is also attached to the ground by only a white line. The head of this cross reaches up to the arm of Christ; the other goes much higher. The face on this side looks towards us; on the other, it looks to the left and gapes open.


Meanwhile, in language, let us continue with connections made by the addition of a letter. There is a beautiful connection between “die” and “tide”, as if our life in this world was a breath on the shore before we are pulled away by forces out of our control, the water seething and bubbling as it sinks into the sand and is replaced by oxygen. Similarly, “fish” and “shift” – I love this image of the fish darting through the waters, seen for a moment and then shifting out of view with a twist of its tail. Or how about “trail” and “ritual”? A ritual is something we perform on repeated occasions. It can sometimes appear boring, but it wears away a path for us to walk on. Like the fish, we twist and turn and suddenly shift out of view, for while the beach is shallow and covered in shingle, the sea (contained in the middle of “beach”) is deep, there are currents, the line is held in place by surface tension.

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).

Swimming Cross

I call this stone a “swimming cross”. Next to the main cross, which has a road leading up to it, is a smaller cross that seems to be swimming through space, like a seed. We will notice that in order to progress through air or water, it is necessary to join one’s legs together. It is only on land that we walk by separating our legs. If you try to fly or swim with your legs apart, you will quickly flounder. They must be joined together, in one place. This is why the Cross is a superior figure, say, to the Vitruvian Man of Leonardo da Vinci, which has its legs apart. The Cross is stable, it will not break like a wall or a tower. The only other figure that shows similar resistance is the triangle – a pyramid. And a circle, though that may bounce or be pricked like a balloon. One detail I love in this depiction is the small bird that has alighted on the transverse beam of the main cross. On the other side of the transverse beam, there is a flag. Both bear witness.


Meanwhile, in language, we are sheep, and Christ is our shepherd. He is not a hired hand, he will not abandon his sheep when the going gets tough. The sound that a sheep makes is “Baa!” We will find here the same letters as in the Aramaic word for “father”, “Abba!”, a term Christ uses in the Gospel. As sheep, we are meant to call upon God the Father in this way. But there is another sound that we can make, if we add the ego to the end of “Baa!”, and that is “Baal!” Baal is the name of the false god in the Old Testament. As sheep, we must make up our mind which god we are going to call upon. The good thing, though, is that even if we make the mistake of calling upon “Baal”, by adding breath (h) and applying the phonetic pair b-p, we can return to “Alpha”. It is the same when we step from “AM” (another title of God) to “I’m”, we are still in a position, through the addition of breath, to go to “Him”, that is Christ. It is a question of repentance, of inviting Him in.

Flowering Cross

This stone is one of many crosses. Crosses and faces are the most common drawings to appear on stones. Two lines that intersect; two dots and a mouth, sometimes even showing nostrils and teeth. I call this a “flowering cross” because it seems to me to have flowered. It also appears to be attached to a sac, like an embryo. The life of a Christian could be likened to this – having to plant a stick in the ground (the soil) and to wait for it to bear fruit (there are instances of this happening). This involves patience and faith. Also, to others (and to ourselves at times), it may appear as foolishness – waiting for a stick to blossom. But it does.


Meanwhile, in language, it can be seen that “fruit” is connected with “root” – there is no way to bear fruit without drawing on the soil’s nutrients; “root” gives “shoot” by a step in the alphabet (r-s) and the addition of breath (h). A “shoot”, as it appears above the ground, resembles a small “tooth”. But I like the connections with “flower”, which of course is meant to turn our heads (or the heads of insects). Doesn’t “flower” contain “lover” and, in reverse, read “revolve”? It is also connected with “grow” (step in the alphabet, f-g, and phonetic pair l-r). We are here, if for nothing else, to grow and bear fruit.