Tag Archives: Parents

The Way Of The Cross

I was going to read through someone else’s meditations on the Stations of the Cross. Then I remembered that I’m a Catholic writer with a vivid imagination, so I thought I’d write my own.

The First Station: Jesus is condemned to death.

I know why this is happening. He doesn’t have to die. He’s dying because we’re weak; because we’re sinful; because there’s a huge, dark chasm between us and His Father, and He wants to bridge that gap. He’s dying because He loves us, and He desperately wants us to love Him back. Still, He doesn’t have to die. I just feel like this could have, really should have happened another way. Who am I in this scenario? If it were me, would I, like Pilate, knowing Jesus was innocent, be a coward and let Him die? Would I be one of the soldiers? If so, would I just do what the others were doing and beat Him and insult Him? Would I have the courage to at least question the others? Would I be one in the crowd practically cheering Pilate on? Would I be one of His friends who ran away? Would I be a silent friend who stood by at a distance? How close am I really willing to get? I don’t like these questions, but they’re there. This is what my sins cost Him, and this is the price He’s willing to pay for my soul. I am grateful, but I know I can never thank Him enough.

The Second Station: Jesus receives His cross.

I know that sins are heavy. They hurt. When I realize I’ve done something particularly wrong, I feel it. It makes me sad, and it makes me ashamed of myself. I physically feel that guilt. That’s just for one person; that’s just for me. Jesus, who is fully human, had to carry my own sins, but everyone else’s, too. Even the thought is terrifying. On top of carrying all the sins of everyone ever, He was brutally beaten and insulted, He had to carry the instrument of His own physical death. Through all of it, He was silent. I can’t even fathom that. It would make me so angry. We are quick to be angry, particularly at Judas, but had he even hoped for the Lord’s forgiveness, he would have been forgiven. Jesus wants to forgive us, but the weight of our sins makes us afraid to go to our Savior. That’s exactly who He is: our Savior, and we can trust Him. He desperately wants us to trust Him.

The Third Station: Jesus falls the first time.

God fell. The strongest Person in the universe fell. He wasn’t weak. He was brave. He is brave. He was willing to fall for us. He was willing to fall for me. He was willing to die for me. Thinking of Him falling kills me because I can’t do a thing about it. I can’t go back in time and make it right. We say that after Original Sin was the “fall.” He didn’t have to fall. He could have stopped all of this. He allowed Himself to fall. He was doing His Father’s will, but it was a choice, too. This is what our fall cost. This is what it looks like. God is willing to fall with us. He’s willing to come down to our level. If we’ve fallen as low as it’s possible for a human to fall, God will find us there.

The Fourth Station: Jesus meets His Mother.

To be sinless in a sinful world must have been strange, both for Jesus and his Mother. Obviously this whole ordeal was terrible for Him, but His Mother, who was, and is, the closest person to His Heart, had to watch the whole thing. I imagine her being there would have been a comfort for Him. Would it not also have been painful? She had to suffer, too. She had to watch her Son suffer and die for sins that were not her own. A part of me wonders how she could have been there and not be resentful, but of course, I know. She would have known that it was worth it. I’m grateful that she was there to comfort Jesus since I can’t be. What would I even say if I could be? Neither “Thank you,” nor “I’m sorry this is happening to you,” seem to cut it; and what can just a glance really say? Somehow I think she could say it all with just a look.

The Fifth Station: Simon helps Jesus carry the cross.

Simon was a stranger. He didn’t know Jesus. To him, Jesus was just a guy–a criminal for all he knew–who was too physically weak to carry that cross. Jesus, in His humanity, needed help. Still, Jesus is God, and God needed help. I keep coming back to the fact that things could have happened differently. Again, this is a moment that looks like weakness. From a strictly human perspective, I suppose it is. Truthfully, though, it’s a moment of love. Throughout this ordeal, what Jesus needed most was love. This time, Jesus initiated it. He allowed someone to help Him in His weakness. He needed to love someone because very few people were loving Him. I expect that changed Simon a lot, and I expect by the end of their short encounter, He loved Jesus. I wonder if anything was said between them. I wonder what I would have done had I been in Simon’s place. If Jesus had been a stranger to me, and I had been there at the time, would I have agreed to help? Would I have refused? Would I have seen Him for who He really was? Would I have spoken to Him? Would I have listened and responded had He said anything to me? There were people there who knew Him from before. They were watching from a distance, but after seeing Him fall, no one thought to help. They were afraid to help. What makes me most uncomfortable is the thought that I might have been afraid to help. In the end it was a stranger who helped Him, and it wasn’t exactly willingly. Jesus said that when we help “the least of these,” we’re helping Him. More often than not, “the least of these” are strangers. I need to remember that when I am given the chance to take the place of Simon.

The Sixth Station: Veronica wipes the face of Jesus:

Veronica was brave. At this point, there was very little anyone could do. I sometimes find myself wondering about odd details like what the weather was like that day. Usually I picture the sky being overcast, but what if it wasn’t? What if there wasn’t a cloud in the sky? That would almost make the whole thing worse. What if the sun was shining bright on the whole bloody mess to show it in all its evil cruelty? For the most part, it was horrible, and awful, and cruel, and evil. Then out of nowhere, Veronica steps out of the crowd and offers Jesus what little comfort she could. I don’t even know if they had known each other from before. Maybe she was a stranger, too. Maybe this small act of kindness put her in danger. Maybe it cost her greatly, but to her, it was worth it. I think she knew who He was. Because of that, He shared something of Himself with her in a particularly special way. Jesus wants to do the same for us. He loves us. If we love Him, directly through devotion and prayer, or by helping “the least of these,” we do for Him what Veronica bravely did. Sometimes that’s what it takes. Sometimes it takes bravery. Let us be brave, and when we aren’t feeling brave, we can ask her to pray for us.

The Seventh Station: Jesus falls a second time.

Was this fall worse than the first? What was the cause of it? was it something specific? was it something external, merely physical, or was it some particularly horrible sins? Was it the weight of World War II? Was it the weight of all the abortions happening today? Was it the weight of two millennia of people rejecting His love? Why did He fall? When I think about it, I want to help Him up. I want to end His suffering, but that’s because I know Him. I know that this second fall was my fault. I ignored Him for a long time. I rejected His love for a while. I want to help Him up because I know Him. Do I want to help strangers up when they fall? Do I try? Do I at least pray for them? I can at least do that. Sometimes I forget to, and that, too, I think, is part of why He fell this second time. He will fall with us and for us as many times as it takes to show us who He is and how loved we are.

The Eighth Station: The women of Jerusalem weep for Jesus.

Jesus encounters another small act of love. All these women can do is weep for Him. Sometimes that’s all we can do when we encounter horrible things, especially injustice. Here Jesus shows His strength. He tells the women not to weep for Him. He offers them some comfort, and tells them that they should weep for themselves. They love Him. They are loyal to Him. Being loyal to the Lord, and staying loyal, is sometimes difficult. The first several centuries after Christs’s death were dangerous for anyone who would be called His followers. It more often than not meant a bloody death not unlike His own. For some, this is still the case. For many, though, calling yourself Christian usually means being seen as strange, and sometimes being shunned by colleges or neighbors. For the most part, it’s mostly dangerous to our image. What is most important to us? Our God, or our ego; our reputation? I imagine this is what He meant. Still, had I been there; had I been one of those women, I would have wept for Him. Maybe it was all He could say because He had to keep walking, but I would want Him to see that what He was doing mattered to me, and it matters to me that He still suffers for our sins.

The Ninth Station: Jesus falls a third time.

He fell because He was exhausted. Not only was He carrying the sins of the world; not only had He been tortured and insulted; not only was He carrying the physical weight of the cross; He was certainly being spiritually abused, too. This was the Devil’s last stand. He knew that Jesus was our Savior, and he knew that he had lost this war. He tried, nonetheless, to bring the Lord down. This was the last battle. Yet again, I want to do something. I see in my mind the Lord on the ground, bleeding and exhausted, and I wish there was even a word I could speak to Him. I wish I could take His hand, even for just a moment and give Him an ounce of comfort. I don’t know what gave Him the strength and courage to get back up, but He did. Maybe it’s this desire, and that of so many others that gave Him what He needed to get back up. I hope so. He has to know that I love Him. I know He knows that, but when you love someone, you tell them. Tell Him what He already knows, but desperately needs to hear.

The Tenth Station: Jesus is stripped of His clothes.

What more could they–what more could we–do to Him? We could do this. We stripped Him of His clothes, but in so much of what we do, we sometimes unknowingly strip each other of our humanity. Jesus said to love our enemies. In this moment, we were His enemies. He didn’t hate us. He loved us. Ultimately, we aren’t meant to have enemies. If we have enemies, we see them as just that: enemies. We don’t see them as people. This comes out more subtly, in so many ways, however. Our sinful nature leads us to see others as objects of pleasure, or as convenience items, or as inconveniences to be disposed of. Even at this moment, Jesus did not see us this way. He saw us as people in need of redemption. Even at our worst, He loved us, and even at our worst today, He still loves us.

The Eleventh Station: Jesus is nailed to the Cross.

One of the final things Jesus does before His death, as He is being nailed to the Cross, is to ask that we be forgiven. We didn’t know what we were doing. We didn’t know that we were killing God. Still, He was human. Sure, He wasn’t sinful, but we had done everything humanly possible to hurt Him and shame Him, and He still loved us. Before any of this, He gave us the Eucharist, knowing this would happen, so that He could always be a part of our lives. Why He would want to be part of my life, after what my sins cost Him, is beyond me. That’s not how God is. That’s who He is. He is greater than any evil this world can throw at Him. He is greater than my fear, my confusion, my weakness, my sinfulness, or anything else. He simply loves me. Maybe it doesn’t make sense, but love doesn’t have to. It just is.

The Twelfth Station: Jesus dies on the Cross.

God is dead. God is dead, and I killed Him. It didn’t have to happen this way. He didn’t have to die to save my soul; to save humanity. He died for us to show us what we’re worth to Him. No matter what the world says, and no matter what I think because of that, God says I’m worth dying for. Still, God is dead, and my sins killed Him. I am tempted to feel guilty about this, and when I sin, I rightly do. He doesn’t want me to carry that guilt, though. He doesn’t want me to carry the shame. He already did that. He wants me to come to Him, and ask forgiveness. He wants to forgive me. He wants to be with me. That’s why I can look at a crucifix and say, “Thank you,” though I’m tempted to leave things at “I’m sorry.” Don’t just leave things at “Thank you,” though. Thank Him for the sky. Thank Him for hot water. Thank Him for the ability to read this. Even small things are so meaningful to Him, and that, too makes it worth it.

The Thirteenth Station: Jesus’ Body is given to His Mother.

This is a very human moment. Mary was Jesus’ mother. She had just lost her Son. It seems wrong that a person’s child should be the first to die. I’d like to think she knew what it meant, and I believe that she knew He would rise again. Nonetheless, her Child had died the most horrible death possible. He had suffered the most a human could suffer. If I were in her place, I’m not sure I would have had the hope I knew she had. I think again to the friends who ran away. Would I be with them, or would I be with Mary to receive Jesus’ body? What would I say to her? There probably would be nothing to say. I don’t think a single word of comfort would really be available, not when God is dead.

The Fourteenth Station: Jesus is laid in a tomb.

The finality of it just seems weird. What would I do, not knowing that this was not the end of the story? I think I’d be in shock. Death wasn’t supposed to happen; isn’t supposed to happen. It is meant to seem strange because it isn’t right. Yet God is willing to go even this far to save us. He died so that, in the end, we don’t have to. Jesus died and was laid in a tomb, and most thought that this was the end. Those in power hoped that this was the end. Time and time again, through the centuries, we are proven wrong. God is never outdone. The finality seems weird because it’s like an unresolved chord at the end of a song, or a spot on a canvas that hasn’t been painted, or the end of a story that hasn’t been written. Knowing that this isn’t the end of the story, but the sad end of a chapter, gives us what we need when we must hope against hope.

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Songs Of Good And Evil

Last night I played an open mic at the Gulu Gulu Cafe. It was great fun. There weren’t too many super great performers, but it didn’t matter. The hosts were horrible and hilarious as always and the audience was pretty into the music, which is always a plus. There was also one slam poet who performed a very personal poem about getting sober. Artistically, it was nothing special, but it definitely came from the heart, and that’s really what matters when it comes to poetry, in my opinion.

I finished writing a song yesterday. It still doesn’t have a title. I almost played it last night but ended up deciding not to for two reasons. Firstly, I didn’t feel like I had the lyrics quite memorized enough. Secondly, the feature performer played a song that he said was basically about the fact that there is evil in the world. While he was introducing the next song, my dad said, “You should play ‘Good In Things.'” It was sort of funny because “Good In Things” is basically the ┬ápolar opposite of his song. I don’t normally talk about God when I perform, even though I want to, partly because I’m chicken and I don’t want people to think I’m a dork. I’ll admit, I am self conscious when I’m on stage. Last night however, I got on stage and said, “I’ll make this quick since my first song is kind of long, but it’s called ‘Good In Things’ because yes, bad things happen, but it could always be worse. Furthermore, God has his hand in everything. Ergo, everything is awesome and there is good in things.” Then I proceeded to play a seven minute long, obnoxiously happy song.

On the way home, my dad told me something that really made me happy. He said, “When people are up there the audience is usually sort of doing their own thing: eating dinner or playing games or what have you, but when you’re up there, there’s usually a handful of people who are absolutely captivated. I think it’s because your lyrics are so positive. You may end up saving someone’s life. There was a woman in the audience tonight who had a look on her face like, ‘maybe the world is worth saving after all.'”

I tend not to watch the audience when I’m performing because I sort of go into my own little world, so I really didn’t know this. It was exactly the kind of thing I wanted to hear, though. It made me feel like even though I’m pretty much unknown on a large scale, my music is touching and maybe really helping people. That’s really what I want from it. I don’t care so much about being famous. I just want to be well known so that I can reach more people. I’m ready to start outwardly talking about the real meaning behind my lyrics when I perform. Before I got on stage last night, I asked God to bless my performance, and I think he did. There is evil in the world and evil in people, but we are created in the image of God, and this is his world. We just have to drown out the evil with love and joy, and we can totally do that.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

The Magnificent Court Of Dreams And Sleep

I don’t use an alarm clock. I need help getting out of bed and into my wheelchair, so my parents are essentially my alarm clock. This is the reason I invented the Magnificent Court of Dreams and Sleep. There are many members of this court, and I shall name them for the entertainment of my readers.

Firstly, there are the Guardians of the Chamber. These are two tall, slender figures, clad in sleek, gold armor. They each are armed with long, slender swords. There is also a guardian known as the Sleep Watcher who is armed with a bow who stands slightly farther down the hall from my bedroom. These guardians are meant to keep the enemy of sleep (parents) from entering the room.

Secondly, there is an old man stationed right outside my closet. He is fairly unremarkable, except for a small, clock which hangs around his neck on a golden chain. This is the Time Keeper. His duty is to stop time when necessary so I can sleep as long as I want.

Thirdly, there are two small, winged spirits stationed over my bed. They are twins known as the Day Weaver and Night Weaver. These two young spirits are responsible for giving me daydreams and night dreams.

Lastly, there is the Commander of the Army of Sleep. Her purpose is to drive out the insane thoughts I have late at night when I can’t sleep. Her army is comprised of strange little spirits capable of entering my mind and fighting insomnia.

I came up with this whole idea basically by accident. I don’t know how long I had been envisioning some of these characters before I actually realized it. Admittedly, a few of them were not spontaneous, but the guards outside my room have been around for years; probably since high school. I really like to sleep.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

It’s A Generational Thing

I missed this story, but my mom told me about it. During or after the George Zimmerman case, one of Tres Von Martin’s friends was interviewed. Mom said that the woman called Zimmerman a derogatory name and a bunch of her friends cheered. She was accusing him of being racist, so she was asked, “isn’t what you’re saying racist?”

My mom said that she denied it and her explanation was that it was a generational thing. Her generation (my generation) just call each other names. We’re just mean because it’s fun and the effect it has on others doesn’t matter because it makes us laugh.

I have a friend who teaches at a dance studio. She said that the kids have absolutely no manners; when they ask for things they don’t say please, and when they are given things they don’t say thank you. They didn’t listen, and some were bullies. Of course there have always been bullies, but it doesn’t make it right.

She said that the parents are even worse. I don’t remember exactly why, but I think the main reason was that they were selfish and got angry when my friend couldn’t do certain things for them (I think they wanted ridiculous things). These people had young kids, which meant they were in their late 20’s or early 30’s; not much older than I am, and they weren’t teaching their kids any manners.

I have noticed and my parents have noticed that some people my age are completely disrespectful to teachers, parents, and adults in general, and they’re even meaner to each other. I was taught from day 1 (4/15/93) that I was supposed to be nice to everyone. I was taught that if you don’t have anything good to say you shouldn’t even open your mouth. I was taught to do good by others and to love them because that was what God said to do. I was taught to respect my parents as well as my friends and to make peace not war.

So how come I sometimes feel like I’m the only one who got that memo? What that girl on TV said was really awful and ignorant, and the fact that people cheered really makes me angry. These people are representing my generation on television, and this is what they come up with? It’s a huge over generalization, and it alienated people like myself and my friends. We pick on each other to a degree, but we know our limits. There is a line, and we don’t cross it because we respect each other.

I don’t understand why respect is such a hard concept for some people to grasp. I suspect it’s partly a familial thing and partly a self defense or self empowerment thing. Some people probably never learn it from their parents, so they don’t pass it on to their kids. Others act disrespectful either to look cool or more powerful to others or to convince themselves that they are.

There is a status quo in our society, and there are smaller versions of it within social groups. People are going to act in different ways depending on how they perceive the status quo. As alluded to above, some people act disrespectfully to try and rise in the status quo or perhaps to break it down. This is a personal rebellion. This can help people gain reputation or power in some groups, but it the bigger scheme of things it’s generally just immature at best.

Respect and humility are actually what break down dividing lines. Being nice is actually what makes people like each other. Love is what helps people find friends in unexpected places. Being on top or being cool isn’t as important as one might think.