On Bearing the Sign of Christ Into the New Millennium
The surgeon's knife cut just in time to get that cross on my chest for the third millennium A.D. Like a message from the gods, he marked me for a mission to carry the sign, although hidden, into a new age lest the sign be lost or forgotten. My wiry little scar pokes down toward my navel. The crossbeam is short and hardly strong enough to hold a body. No body hangs from the cross except mine. On the back of it and out of proportion. I'm no longer myself, But the image of an idea. I'm being used against my will to bear the sign. There's no erasing it. There's no denying its presence. There's no escaping what it means.
A Note to Paul Friesen
Making crosses is a slippery business, as you surely know. You'd just as well make them out of water as out of wood. The making of crosses may be more difficult than bearing them. Nobody ever said it would be easy. The dream of meaning is as fluid as the seed from which the tree grows. The chimera of belief is as foggy as the clouds from which the rain comes to water the tree. The hallucination of significance is as empty as the air in which the tree flourishes. Anyone can cross two sticks and say, "Look. That's belief." Anyone can draw a picture and say, "Behold. Here's the way it was." Anyone can write a song and say, "That's what it all amounts to." A cross might say, "Come unto me and I will give you rest." Any cross could say, "Behold the lamb of God." All crosses must say, "Here is death. For what it's worth." When you first touch the wood that you will turn into a cross, notice the grain that leads to the foot Where you and I and all mankind stand, Where the water and the blood drip over us, Where redemption flourishes if we work long enough at the wood in our souls from which our special crosses are made.
At the foot of my cross is me. At the foot of my cross is my navel and my stomach and two punctures where the tubes entered to drain my wounds, where for five days water and blood came flowing round and out. At the foot of my cross there is no beloved disciple or a weeping mother or someone throwing dice for my seamless coat. My stigmata are hidden so no one can see where I was pierced. They will be manifest only when I get my loincloth and my crown of thorns. Even so, no one will cradle my body and carry it to a rock enclosure. Nor will I rise on a third day. I will not noodle along to Emmaus. I will not appear in Galilee. No one will take my death to be the good news of salvation. At the foot of my cross is me, and behind it and above it and all around that fragile stick.