We have a new crucifix for our home.
At Mass a couple of weeks ago, there was a guest speaker from Bethlehem. He had 2 tables full of beautiful, hand crafted, religious wooden pieces for sale. He explained to our parish how the families of Bethlehem make these items, as a means to support themselves. Yet it seems that the town of Bethlehem is very poor now, because of a great decline in tourists, which is due to the danger there now, such as war, violence, kidnappings and the persecution of being Christians. He had a very heavy accent, and so we could not understand all of what he said, but it seems people are afraid to travel and visit there these days. So in an effort to bring in more income for the families, they are traveling and selling the items they make.
Honestly, I wanted so very many pieces there. There were all kinds of statues, rosary beads, and this large, glorious nativity set. There was even a wooden star at the peak of the front of the manger, that you wound up to play music. Be still my heart! We need a real nativity set, badly, too. We never really had a place to put a nice one before, but we do now. Frankly, now that our youngest are 6, the Little People Nativity Set we have isn’t cutting it anymore. It served our little ones well, in it’s time though. Unfortunately, the large nativity set I pined after, there on that display table that day, was way out of our budget. Although the price was well worth the value of craftsmanship that went into it.
So, we decided on this crucifix, which we all really love. The craftsmanship is so amazing, and the wood grain in this particular piece really adds to the beauty of it. We do still need to get it blessed.
There has been a crucifix hanging in every home I have ever lived in. Naturally, it is a very poignant symbol of Christian faith, and is meant have a place in every home where strong faith prevails. So this crucifix represents that here in our home as well.
But when I look at this one now, hanging in a place of honor in my home, I am keenly aware of the new feelings I experience in the depths of my soul. Perhaps it is heightened awareness of the reality of just what Christ went through, for us. The way, as we grow older and gain the wisdom that comes with time, something we always knew is embraced in a whole new way-with greater appreciation, gratitude, and the gripping meaning of it all. As we raise our children, and try to do so while teaching them in the light that all things, all actions, all lessons, all of LIFE, revolves around, and are tied, in every single way…our faith. It is all sprung forth from God’s creation, and our purpose, as we live our lives, day by day, here on earth. Seeing this crucifix brings all of those things to mind and heart, in one impactful moment, at the very glimpse of Christ there, on that cross, on our wall.
More than that, it has already served me well in another way. It’s been a reality check for me, when I really, really needed one. A well-deserved slap in the face, if you will. Because there was a day, or maybe 2, that I was having a bad day. And by ‘bad day’, I mean one of those self-absorbed, not getting over-myself kind of days. A day when I felt needless stress, for all I had to get done in that day, and the interruptions (blessings in transparent disguise that day…lol), that hindered me from getting it all done quickly. A day where, in this failing economy, I was feeling I had too much work and obligations, (I know…slap me now), and not enough time or focus to get it all done. So on such a day as this, I once again caught glimpse of this crucifix hanging there. And it served that reality check: “THAT, is a bad day”, I thought, looking at it. I recalled the truth of the matter: Here was the Son of the living God, being called a liar for who He was, being tortured in ways that brought about pain none of us will ever truly understand, and giving up His life, after a slow and merciless death…………..not for Himself. But for US! For all of us. For all of mankind, or at least, for each of us who accept his sacrifice, and embrace salvation in our hearts, minds and souls, and live a life accordingly.
And yet here I was…in a bad mood over, ummm….what again? A to-do list that wasn’t really that long. Certainly not painful. And when I really looked at it honestly, it was all blessings, I chose to see in a selfish light that day. They were all, in the end, for good things for ME, when the purposes come full circle. I mentally complained that day because I was tired (though I slept in a cozy warm bed most of the night). It irked me to see that basket of unfolded laundry, knowing deep inside some people must wear the same dirty rags every day. I groaned because I had so much work to do – which brings in the income to support my family, through the gifts God Himself gave me, and of which is a passion (sometimes of service)I feel in my heart. Because I didn’t feel like taking the time, to prepare meals, forgetting to be grateful for answered prayer when we say “give us this day, or daily bread”.
Shame on me, and I meant it, and felt it, when my eyes landed on that cross.
I live a life focused on gratitude, most days. I try to make a habit of starting each day in prayer ( a few times before noon), and counting our abundant blessings. I know in my heart, and remember 95% of the time, that nothing comes to me, to us as a family, that which is not first through the Father. And I feel, and fear, that when you forget to be grateful, the Good Lord tends to get us back on track with a swift and difficult life lesson, which makes us appreciate what we should, once again. Indeed, ALL GOOD comes through Him. We know this to be true. We have simple needs, as a family. As individuals. Yet we are very, very blessed. I would even go so far as to say, we are rich, really, when you consider what is really of value. He provides for us. He always does. He even gave the life of his own Son, as Christ did for us as well, so that we could have MORE, and eternally. It reminds me of that hymn, Whatsoever You Do. For we also know that what is ours, we must share with those in need.
So I think this cross will be hanging in our home for a long time to come. For all it means, for all it symbolizes, and just in case, for the reality check I may need someday again, when I am wrapped up in ME, and forget momentarily, that I have all I will ever need. I have woken up and smelled the coffee, after my partial day of ridiculous, unjustifiable pity. There is work to be done, which we quite enjoy, because work/income is coming our way, in a time some people can’t find a job, or despise their job, and in a time of a failing economy. There are meals to prepare, because we have food. There is laundry to fold, because we have clothing, and a washing machine in which to clean them. We have a home to clean, because we have a roof over our head. And beautiful, healthy children to tend to, because they are the very existence of our answered prayers, and joy of our life! They are just LOVE, making themselves known, all over the place. And all we need to do is remember to be thankful for such immense blessings, and sincerely follow a few other simple rules, and on top of all that we already have, we can then even enter into the home, of Our Father.
Amen, I say to you, Amen.