As we move along the path of spiritual growth, we are invited to embrace a life of balance. The symbol of the cross can be a reminder of that invitation, no matter what our religion or spiritual beliefs.
Consulting Higher Wisdom
This past weekend, as I was sitting in my respective corner and the kids’ were hiding in theirs (after a week of frenetic travel and activities), I decided it was as good a time as any to consult some higher wisdom. I pulled out my spiritual wisdom cards and drew six from the deck for insight. The foundational card that was placed in the center of the spread was the card for “Creative and Spiritual Passion.” The next card, placed on top of the first card was the card for meditation and retreat. I then placed four other cards – two, horizontally on either side of the first two cards and two vertically, one above and one below the center cards. Interestingly, both horizontal cards also represented meditation, reflection and retreat. The two vertical cards, like the foundational card, represented creative passion, along with the final reminder that in order for work to be fulfilling, it must also reflect a spiritual motivation. When I looked at the cards as a complete message, it was a terrific reminder to balance the spiritual with the material aspects of my life. HMMMM I think there might be a universal message here!
Maintaining a Balance
The universal message here is BALANCE. For me, balance means that I maintain the spiritual practices that sustain me (meditation, journalling, yoga, contemplation, prayer, chant), cultivate the creative practices that feed me (in some ways, literally), nurture the relationships that enliven me (with family, friends, and in work), and allow time for work and for play. In a more general sense, it is about the balance of the spiritual (the being) and the material (the doing). I do not believe it is a coincidence that this message revealed itself to me in the shape of the cross. I believe it is this message of balance that is the ultimate meaning of the cross, and a message that can transcend spiritual beliefs and religious practice. Even saying this, I can feel the collective hair standing up on the back of readers’ necks (for a wide variety of reasons). Before you get your undies in a bundle over this idea…let me further explain!
My Own Journey with the Cross
Growing up Catholic, the cross was one of the central symbols that infused my life. The cross, in the form of a crucifix, hung in every room of our home. All four of Lumby kids received a crucifix as a First Communion present, along with a rosary, with a cross in the form of a crucifix hanging from the end of the string of beads. Every classroom at St. Alphonsus elementary school had a crucifix hanging on the wall and every morning, we stood up at our desks, said the Pledge of Allegiance, then turned to the crucifix, hung our heads in prayer, made the sign of the cross and recited our morning prayers, sealing the deal with another sign of the cross. I think you get the picture – the CROSS was it, specifically, the cross in a form of a crucifix on which hung the bloody, crucified body of Jesus. The preponderance of this image spoke of the theology we were expected to embrace – a theology focused on the suffering and death of Jesus. “Jesus died for our sins.” While there is a deep truth behind this kind of theology, the human Jesus and more importantly, the resurrected Christ sometimes got lost in all those mea culpas!
A Cross beyond the Suffering
While I can appreciate the image of the cross as crucifix as a reminder of Jesus’ suffering and death, the cross can be so much more than that. As my wisdom cards reminded me, the cross is ultimately a symbol that represents balance and was in fact, utilized in this way by people and cultures who far-preceded Christianity. For example, the Celtic people (from whom my gene pool originates), used the cross as a symbol of balance and as a reminder of the wheel of change and the cycle of the seasons of the earth. The cross was a spiritual as well as a material symbol. It reminded the Celtic people of the higher spiritual consciousness that governed the cycles of material birth, growth, death and rebirth. Like the Christians after them, the Celtic people embraced the cross as a symbol of death, but more importantly it was a symbol that invited balance and promised new life. It was a reminder that our human life must contain a balance, like the earth, between seasons of planting and harvest (doing) and seasons of lying fallow (being). It is this message of the cross – about balance and wholeness that transcends our spiritual beliefs and religious practices and can become a universal message for all to embrace. (ok, you can breathe now!) 😉
How are you balancing the material (doing) and the spiritual (the being) aspects of your life?
Where are you being invited to explore a more healthy balance in your life?
How is your spiritual life informing your material life?
Authentic Freedom Ministries