The Stations of the Cross are particularly Roman Catholic tradition. During Lent the practice of praying through the Stations is encouraged in a number of different ways. In my own parish this Lent we chose to organise a ‘slow walk’ through the Stations. Doing the fourteen stations over four weeks with four different presenters.
This last week covered Stations 4 through 7 – Jesus meets him mother; Simon of Cyrene helps him carry the cross; Jesus meets Veronica and Jesus falling for the second time.
I confess I have never been a great fan of Stations of the Cross. Some of the devotions have no obvious root in Scripture and the brisk pace of standing, kneeling and consideration doesn’t usually do much for me. But these slower stations are getting to me.
One of closest friends is going through a tremendously difficult period at the moment. And as a result, I am trying to walk alongside her in her suffering. When asked to contemplate the fifth station – where Simon of Cyrene takes up the cross – we were encourage to recall those burdens we carry for others. It struck me, that whilst I am trying walk alongside my friend, I most certainly do not carry her burden. I hope I ease it a fraction, but I cannot offer any real relief. No one can.
For the first time, the presence of Veronica actually made sense. Veronica wipes the face of Jesus. It is a tender caring action. No doubt it is appreciated. It doesn’t relieve the burden and it doesn’t change the journey, but the caring action is important nonetheless.
On a daily basis I wish I could be Simon. I wish I could shoulder some of the burden. But in this particular case my lot is to content myself with being Veronica.
Praying always for the grace of God for everyone who is touched by these particular circumstances. And in particular praying for my friend.