I have been thinking a lot about what it means to express our beliefs publicly after Sister Maxine’s post yesterday about billboard morality. Though a billboard is truly an awesome way to declare one’s faith and values, the cross is the “typical” visual way we do this on a day to day basis.
Too often the cross has been reduced to mere fashion accessory (not that fashion is a bad thing) or an all too familiar Christian image that barely registers on our spiritual radar. It sometimes takes a very unusual depiction or placement of the cross to make us think twice about what the cross means. For me, that unusual moment came in the form of a giant 198-foot steel cross off Highway 57. “The Cross of the Crossways” is apparently the world’s largest cross and it is located right here in the midwest in Effingham, Illinois.
Thrusting heavenward out of easy-to-reach flat farmland, the cross seems even bigger than it already is … The massive slab into which it’s anchored is awash in piped-in church music and surrounded by monuments for each of the Ten Commandments, which deliver inspirational audio homilies at the touch of a button.” (source)
I’ll tell you, that cross not only took my breath away for it’s sheer magnitude but also for the amazing witness value. Maybe it was built for that person driving down the highway and who is in a rough space and in need of a sign … imagine the shock as this cross appears on the horizon.
One might think that as a nun, I’d have more opportunities to see crosses and crucifixes. But being on mission in the midst of the worlds means I experience life just like other folks do. But “hidden” crosses are all around us! “Hidden” crosses are those glimpses we have where a couple tree branches randomly form a cross, an architectural pattern forms a cross, etc. Here’s a photo I took while in Avila over the summer. Do you see the cross? I remember reading somewhere that Saint Francis of Assisi would always see these “hidden” crosses all over the place and use the opportunity to say a quick prayer. I am going to try the same!