It nestles below the dashboard, in a niche with a reminder of Sandy Hook, some stray change, and a cheap medal. It’s edges are delicate curves and and the color is faded, the texture dried. But the shape is unmistakable: a cruciform, woven from last year’s Palm, has held its shape and is a tender reminder of choices made.
It is an invitation, too, to remember that we are the heart and hands of Christ, woven into shape by the choices made each day. In other words, the cross whispers about what matters, what is done and why it is done. Individuals matter, and what we do and how we do it, matters. Our choices inevitably impact self and others and sometimes even the broader collective good. The cross is a reminder of that reality. That tiny cross, barely visible, speaks of the intricacies of the life journey, the shared continuum of choices, and the multitude of variables in decision-making. Most of all, that cross points out that choices are a critical part of the journey of life.
That journey takes a critical turn as Lent draws to a close. The annual celebration of Palm Sunday re-opens the story of Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem and highlights choices, decisions: Jesus’, the crowds, the Romans. It bleeds with questions about fair and just, right and suffering, law and reason, ignorance and bullying. It replicates so many of life’s most painful moments. It speaks across centuries of the most difficult challenges faced by human beings engulfed in institutions and structures, power and poverty. And it is marked by the waving and blessing of palm and the linking of palm and purpose. In the twenty-first century, the palm itself still enjoys the richness of meaning. And the paradoxes of human life remain: the promise and the possibility, the illusions and the hopes, the disappointments and the resiliences, the attempted and the failures, the successes and the accidents.
Such a tiny cross sitting in a car becomes far more than an ornament; it has a voice. And the voice is the invitation to look at choices and the ways to make them, to find the examined options and live a conscious presence where choices consequences and accepting the consequence are part of the experience. It is about looking with honesty and clarity and being attentive to the at is present in self and in others. It is about facing despair and finding wisdom.
The voice is a chance to re-consider the multitude of things taken for granted each day, to acknowledge the layers of interdependence that characterize each person’s existence, and the significance of all types of interaction. The tiny cross, noticed and cradled, whispers of both the vastness of the universe and the mortal limits that frame humanity.
More than a label, more than a fashion statement, the cross speaks of the profound experience of human life. After all, the very flexibility of the palm at the outset yields to the weaving of a cruciform. And so it is with the human journey, a process of becoming what others can see, and believing that it matters, and weaving a life experience into what matters. The cross, and it’s voice, are renewed in a new space, for a new generation. And still, the humanness of choice and purpose remains…as real as it was when Jesus entered Jerusalem.