October 24, 2009

Redemptive sadness

I spent three nights last month at Mercy Center in Burlingame, California. The Mercy Center has several walking paths that were created years ago by Father Thomas Hand, S.J. One of the paths, called the Water Way, leads you down a slope and into an area shadowed by trees, then along a dark creek that is criss-crossed with fallen branches and tree trunks.

10th station of the crossThis depiction of the Tenth Station of the Cross is nailed to a post at one end of the Water Way. At this point in the story, Christ’s clothes are taken from him: one last humiliation before death.

I am struck by the sadness in each man’s face, and by the way in which Christ is clasping the man’s hand. I don’t believe that redemptive violence is part of the Christian story.* Instead, I believe that God willingly entered into our suffering to be with us, because of love for us. It is a different story.

10th station of the cross, closeup

Click to enlarge

* Shout-out to Shawn Anthony at Lo-Fi Tribe, whose excellent blog seems to have disappeared.