the cross

the cross

well here we are, the monday after easter sunday.  it’s my favorite season of the year & every time i re-read the story and engage with the unexpected events from palm sunday to resurrection day i am reminded yet again how Jesus turns things upside down and inside out.  i wrote this post last week, but never posted it in all the hub-ub.  so i thought i’d just wait and post this today, a little bit after the fact…

to me, holy week is about downward mobility as a path to life.    Jesus, the promised messiah, rides into Jerusalem a hero and goes out on a cross next to two criminals.  he washes his followers feet.  he’s flat on his face crying out for mercy just like the rest of us.  he takes the path of most resistance instead of the path of least.   he embodies the message that going down, not rising above, is the message of the kingdom.  and we all know this a brutal message in so many ways because of what it actually requires of us.

i collect crosses.  this photo is one little nook in my house where they’re most concentrated, but i have a bunch more than that (never noticed how crooked they all are, ha ha, it’s a metaphor for my life, that’s for sure).   i love the image of the cross because it reminds me of what i constantly need to be reminded of:

the ways of the kingdom are utterly contrary to the ways of the world.

so in the spirit of post-easter week & the beauty of the cross, i thought i’d share what the cross means to me this year.  not the crosses on my wall or on my necklaces i always wear, but The Cross.  the cross that was carried when Jesus could barely walk.  the cross that his hands and feet were nailed to.  the cross that he took his last breath on.  the cross at the top of hill that was surrounded by people who just a few days before were sure he was somehow going to save them in the way they expected. the cross that took his life momentarily but not in the end.

there’s no doubt in my mind i need to continually remember what the cross really means, not in a happy-clappy-trite-only-on-easter way, but in the deep places of my heart and experience that extends far beyond holy week.

this year, the cross reminds me that:

yeah, without pain and suffering, it’s really hard to experience new life.  all the end-around-ways we try to avoid things are a big waste of time.

my natural tendency is to find a way to take an easier way out.  even Jesus tried.

i always want to move up, not down.  down is harder.  down hurts.  down is confusing.

God uses the weirdest things to make a point.

shame must be scorned.  Jesus didn’t hang on that cross so i/we could live in shame.

love looks like sacrifice.  not talking about sacrifice.  actually sacrificing. damn, it’s easier to talk about it.

love hurts.

God’s way of redeeming injustice and my ways are two different things.

victory needs a new definition; i’m almost positive it isn’t the one was taught to me in most of my christian experience.

the world’s, the church’s , addiction to strength, power, and upward-mobility thinking need some serious shifting.

Jesus modeled what we are actually supposed to do as his followers.  imagine what would the world look like if we actually did it?|

without hope, we perish.

yeah, it is finished.  like, really finished.   and that it is a mind-bender if i embrace what that really means, not just for me but for everyone.

out of death and darkness, hope and new life emerges. sometimes in the most unexpected ways.

just my thoughts this week.  i am thankful for the reminder.

what about you.   what does the cross mean to you this year?

* * * * *

ps: you can read a little bit about our easter gathering on the refuge blog–out of death and darkness hope and life emerges. more on that later this week.

ppss: coming up next week is a new series i’m excited about, a collection of real stories from some lovely refuge friends,  small and powerful “signs of hope” post-easter.   it’ll be fun.

Kathy Escobar

Kathy Escobar is dedicated to creating safe and brave spaces for transformation and healing in real life, online, and outside. She co-pastors at The Refuge, a hub for healing community, social action, and creative collaboration in North Denver, co-directs #communityheals, a non-profit organization dedicated to making spaces for transformation accessible for all, and is the author of Practicing: Changing Yourself to Change the World, Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward When Everything You Believe is Coming Apart and several other books.


  • You and Henri say it so well.

    “The way of Jesus is radically different. It is the way not of upward mobility but of downward mobility. It is going to the bottom, staying behind the sets, and choosing the last place! Why is the way of Jesus worth choosing? Because it is the way to the Kingdom, the way Jesus took, and the way that brings everlasting life.” H Nouwen

  • Well-written kathy!!! I think Jesus and the Father must have had some winks and knowing glances with each Other as to the topsy-turvyness of life so often with Them. He became the lowest servant and thus became the Most exalted….. what a contrast eh??? Cant wait till you come back to Portland again, stephanie told me she was in your group and talked to you so your getting marked down for next time you make it this way missy lol

  • Christ is risen from the dead
    trampling down death by death
    and upon those in the tombs bestowing life.

    And a joyous remainder of this Eastertide to you!

  • mary – ah, he is my all-time favorite. no doubt. such a beautiful quote.

    robert – thanks my friend. i always look forward to hearing from you. it was fun getting to hang out with stephanie a bit, too, love the work they do. yes, would love to connect next time i’m in pdx & hang out with your church/sunday school/whatever.

    steve – beauty. thanks. and easter joy & hope back to you from across the miles.


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