Let Me Be to You that Little Piece of Wood

The station of the cross is not foreign to me, and most years some aspect of the journey Jesus took
from being condemned to being laid in the tomb, will resonate with me. Some will stay for years,
others will be a recycle of old – like when Jesus meets his mother, or Simon of Cyrene helps him carry
the cross, or the women weeping for him. But this year something hit differently. Something I wasn’t
looking for.

As I listen to the familiar meditation, I try to place myself in it. I’m always just that little bit further
out, just behind the first row of the crowd watching on. Even when I meditate on Jesus on the cross,
I can see Mary the Mother of Jesus, Mary Magdalen and John the disciple, right at his feet.

Occasionally, I see John or Mary Magdalene look over at me. Their eyes cut through the busyness of
the soldiers that stand between us, and I’m either standing with a crowd or on my knees with only a
small group of people. They look at me with eyes of pain, and never say a word, they just lock eyes
with me, and I shake my head. It’s almost as if I know they’re saying, ‘Draw near’ and my answer is, ‘I
can’t. This is holy ground. This is as close as I can go’. Their gaze lingers a moment longer with so
much love as if to say ‘Sister, you don’t yet get it’ and they return their gaze to that of Mother Mary,
back on Christ. Following their lead, I return my gaze to Him also.

One night, as we’re approaching this moment during a meditation that I know all too well, we reach
the point where Jesus is being nailed to the cross. I heard something I’d never heard before, the
words ‘and they nailed your feet flat to the cross’.
No! Flat to the cross? but that means…
My heart shattered.
As I stood there, trying not to fall into a heap, I couldn’t bear the shift in imagery in my mind’s eyes.

Up until now, in my mind every cross with Jesus on it has always had that little piece of wood, a
platform, under his feet to hold his feet in place against the cross. Even picturing the movie
depiction, the Passion, I can still vividly recall the soldiers pushing Jesus’ legs up and making the
knees bend. Then abruptly push his legs away and secure that piece of wood to the cross, before
returning his feet to it and in mockery drive a nail through his feet onto that block. Could it be that,
that little piece of wood never existed?

As I stood and looked at the painting in front of me praying this same question, ‘Lord, did you not
even have that little platform?’ my heart began to race, my lips quiver, and tears began to blur my
vision. I suddenly felt a sense of being united with the heart of Mary Magdalene at the foot of the
cross, and my heart was moving before I could think, pulling myself off the rubble and running to
Jesus to throw my hands under his feet to help him up. But I couldn’t. My hands could never hold my
Lord up, they were never meant to. ‘Then let me curl up here, Lord, and place the tips of your toes
and feet on my back or have my shoulders. Something. Anything! Lord, use my body to hold yourself
up. If it is my Lord’s will to suffer like this, at least let me be the platform under your feet. I am not
like your Mother, I do not have her strength nor her wisdom to stand witness to this. Let me be that
little piece of wood to you.’

Just as the soldiers in my mind’s eyes were unphased by my futile efforts, so we can become
desensitised to the grotesqueness, cruelty, and offensive nature of the crucifixion – partly because
it’s beyond what we can comprehend when we know it’s Our Lord and God on that cross. But I
believe that is precisely why we should never forget nor numb ourselves, for then we also take away
the beauty of the invitation that is offered to us. All these years, I did not realise, my heart was hanging on that little piece of wood. The difference between being ok and not, relied on that little
block being present, allowing my Lord to push himself up for one more breath. Yet, that is now gone
and my heart has shattered anew. Where His love used to drip and eventually flow to me in that
second row behind the soldiers, now it freely pours on me that has rushed to be like Mary Magdalen
at his feet. In my frantic state of not knowing what to do, with his blood on my hands, shoulders and
back, I hear His sweet voice yearn for me to draw even closer. ‘How is that even possible, Lord? I’m
already at your feet, I cannot draw closer than this’. As I stand at a loss, feeling helpless and broken
hearted – Mother Mary leans in and puts her arm around my shoulder and without taking her eyes
off her son, pulls me in to her side. It is then that I realise – if my Lord is calling my heart closer, then
it must be possible. I need only stay here, and gaze upon Him. As my broken heart of helplessness
meets His suffering and death, my soul also meets His outpouring of love and mercy that washes me
to be cleansed and to be healed – to become whole in Him, my sweet Lord, and my love.

Keynote speaker, founder and director of Virtue Ministry and co-host of the Living Fullness Podcast.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *