In elementary school, attending the Stations of the Cross became my favorite part of Lent because Mass at that time felt like a routine -- similar to brushing my teeth or shampooing my hair. I’ve got to do it, but it’s not exactly the most enjoyable part of the day.
But during Lent, things felt differently, more somber and less routine. And, even as a child I enjoyed a good story. Fast-forward to present day and I understand the Stations of the Cross a lot better than my elementary school self did. But I still sometimes struggle with how it relates to my own life -- how it’s more than a story.
One recent morning as I was lamenting to myself about all the troubles and trials I’ve been dealing with these last few years (Ignorantly thinking that no one else could possibly be going through what I’m going through), I forced myself to ask:
Who the heck do I think I am?
Why wouldn’t I have to deal with daily challenges?
If God’s own Son went through challenges, why shouldn’t I have to deal with a life filled with ups and downs? Now that didn’t necessarily make me feel better and in no way am I on par with Jesus, but it was a “slap me in the face” kind of thought.
We all carry crosses in our lives -- whether it be losing a loved one to violence, battling a chronic illness, losing a job, finding out a friend isn’t a friend, not being able to find love, the list goes on and on. Life is tough every single day, but we must recognize that God gives us the strength to keep going.
And, there are also glimmers of hope as when Veronica wiped Jesus’ face or when Jesus found the strength to get up each time he fell. Kindness exists in our lives. It could be someone who gives up their seat for us on the bus because our arms are full or that friend who randomly checks in with a quick text or call. Those acts of kindness from our neighbors give us the strength to stand up, dust ourselves off, wipe away our tears and start again down life’s path.
For me, Lent is about:
● Refocusing my mindset so that I remember that I’m not alone -- we all have crosses we must carry. It’s about how we handle each of those crosses that defines us and makes us stronger; and
● Remembering that I must be the woman who wipes Jesus’ brow. I must be the person who sends the kind text or gives up my seat. I must help my neighbors with empathy and kindness.
Lent reminds me to embrace the journey and be there for others when their crosses get too heavy. The Stations of the Cross are more than a story told at Lent, but instead a road map for how to deal with life’s challenges.
Olivia Silver is a former journalist and current communication specialist who handles media relations for a law firm. She volunteers at St. Columbanus by assisting with communications projects. Her Twitter handles: @OliviaSilver and @OliviaClarke312.