I was raised in a (supposedly, but really only nominally) Christian family. Family dysfunction & the glaring hypocrisies I observed every Sunday in church drove me away from church/organized religion early. (I like to joke now that I much prefer disorganized religion.)
All of this just to indicate that I’ve been aware all my life of the cross/crucifix as a symbol central to Christianity.
When I read Tom Harpur’s book The Pagan Christ – Recovering the Lost Light, I was blown away to learn that the cross as a pivotal symbol long pre-dated Christianity. (I was blown away by plenty else in the book, which I highly-highly-highly recommend to all & sundry, so I do.)
Harpur explains that the cross as a symbol is meant to represent “spirit plunging into matter,” & is “a constant symbol of our rootedness in the earth on the one hand and our destiny with God on the other.”(1)
Thanks to Harpur (& to general thoughtful musing on my daily walk), I now view the symbol of the cross very differently than the way I was taught to in Sunday School. We were taught it was about Jesus Christ suffering – on my behalf & that of all humanity.
I picture the horizontal line as representing all of humanity – all of Life on Earth, even. Along & along & along it runs…stretching out in an infinite, endless line…
The vertical line (for me, since I’m describing my point of view) is me, little old me, popping up there out of the other line. I’m utterly embedded in the … well… the collective, in humanity, in this great awesome explosion of life/Life – or what Thomas Berry referred to as the Human Project.
I can’t separate myself from it, because I am utterly, utterly & inextricably embedded in it.
So everything I do (for me) requires the awareness that not only am I not alone, not separate, but I am deeply, deeply rooted in humanity, in Life, in this quite amazing Earth community (another Berry phrase).
& further, I see the cross as being inside a circle. There is no beginning or end to the vertical & horizontal lines of humanity/Life & the individual (me, in my case) – they just kind of roll along & roll along on this amazing orb of an orbiting planet that we call home.
So, crosses & circles, eh? (I wrote more about circles in the posting ‘Circles (& Boxes): Magic (& Magic Lost)’ Circles just seem a very important symbol to me.)
Balance, & circular processes. Ancient, immutable. (Although we humans have, of course, utterly upset the balance of Nature, with our seasons now ass-over-teakettle, pretty much, to put it mildly, if not so politely.)
With nuclear accidents & warheads (& so-called “routine” nuclear emissions & nuclear waste) threatening our very existence – our very ability to exist (many things now threaten our existence, but for sure nukes are right up there at the top of the list).
Well, & so to resurrection.
I am feeling “resurrected” this morning (Thursday, Jan. 26th).
I’d been feeling pretty much wiped out for several days there. (CNSC – Canadian Nuclear Safety (sic) Commission – hearings seem to do that to me; they seem to take chunks out of me, I’m now realizing.)
This morning I feel more or less human again. I’ve caught up on lost sleep, spent some time hiding away reading, even had a massage the other day. I needed that!!
Now, I feel resurrected!
Had a walk & some fresh air & it is just plain amazing to me, always, what sleep, fresh air & a simple solitary walk can do for a person.
I dunno whether any of this imagery – the cross, the circle, the possibility of daily resurrection – is of any use to anyone else…but here it is. Make of it what you will!
p.s. to repeat myself, I do highly recommend Tom Harpur’s book The Pagan Christ – Recovering the Lost Light It’s well-researched, well-written, chockfull of revelations & insights that could blow you out of the water. In a good way, I think…
p.p.s. I guess it’s even more important to think “outside the box” than most of us realize, considering that boxes are square & confining, with those sharp edges & dark corners. We live on a round planet – we need to respect circles, not boxes. The blog post on circles referenced above quotes Eustace Conway, so well-described in Elizabeth Gilbert's ever-so-fascinating book The Last American Man. His little riff on boxes goes like this: “Do people live in circles today? No. They live in boxes. They wake up every morning in the box of their bedroom because a box next to them started making beeping noises to tell them it was time to get up. They eat their breakfast out of a box and then they throw that box away into another box. Then they leave the box where they live and get into a box with wheels and drive to work, which is just another big box broken up into lots of little cubicle boxes where a bunch of people spend their days sitting and staring at the computer boxes in front of them. When the day is over, everyone gets into the box with wheels again and goes home to their house boxes and spends the evening staring at the television boxes for entertainment. They get their music from a box, they get their food from a box, they keep their clothing in a box, they live their lives in a box! Does that sound like anybody you know?”(2) Well, hooey people, eh??
p.p.p.s. I’ve blogged about religion/spirituality in the postings
- ‘The Problem with God’
- ‘What is Spirituality FOR?’
- ‘Spirituality: More Thoughts’
- ‘Crosses, Betrayal & Resurrection’
- My Religion
- My Religion, take 2
Runners-up: “We are not lacking in the dynamic forces needed to create the future. We live immersed in a sea of energy beyond all comprehension. But this energy, in an ultimate sense, is ours not by domination but by invocation.” – Thomas Berry in The Great Work – Our Way into the Future, page 175
“Each day we are born again to start our life anew. What we do today is what matters most.” ~ Buddha
(1) The Pagan Christ – Recovering the Lost Light, Tom Harpur Thomas Allen, 2004, pg. 44
(2) The Last American Man, Elizabeth Gilbert, Penguin Books, 2002. Page 19.