Stations of the Cross

Rachel Farmer reflects on her experience of the Stations of the Cross.

‘For me praying comes alive when I am on a journey.’

The sound of hammer hitting nails bounced off the walls of the cathedral, disturbing the silence. Every eye was fixed on the single nail being knocked into the wooden cross on the stone slabs at our feet. As I pictured two bloodied hands pierced by nails, I felt tears begin to prick.

It was Good Friday and I was part way round a guided reflection on the Stations of the Cross.

As our small group trailed from one small sculpture to another, we listened to the gospel account of Jesus’s journey to the cross. The sculptures showed a figure weighed down by the heavy load, at the next he seemed to be stumbling. The figures conjured up new thoughts and feelings, but there were also items to touch, to smell and even sounds which helped transport us back to the scene. At one point in the journey a spiked crown was handed round and later a cloth soaked in vinegar brought the scent of death close.

This hour-long trail from station to station was part of my own Easter journey. And it wasn’t just a reflection on a historical event. For me hearing, seeing and sensing the events of Holy Week allowed me to hear God’s voice speaking to me in new ways.

I’m not one for silence, I enjoy the buzz of a party, of conversation and loud music, yet in the stillness of that hour I was transported to the cobbled streets of Jerusalem and I thought again about feelings of betrayal, isolation and humiliation.

If prayer is about some kind of deep communication with God, the journey through the Stations of the Cross enabled me to explore new depths in that spiritual relationship. The sound of the hammer was a signal to stop, to wait and to listen to what God wanted to say to me. To ask what part I had played in piercing those hands and how I could walk in the footsteps of those wounded feet.

Prayer can be a struggle…making time, putting aside the ‘to do’ list, thinking of the right words and then feeling bad that it’s been so long since I last did this. Taking part in the prayer stations gave me a framework to pray within and I quickly became immersed in the unfolding story – even though I knew it well. I realized that I am part of the story. The route to the cross for Jesus, and His journey through death and resurrection is why I am here. It’s why I have a chance to know Him and be loved by Him.

For me praying comes alive when I am on a journey. And the journey around the stations opened up a new pattern of prayer, with images, words and even objects to touch, which enabled me to become more engaged in a conversation with God. I can only compare it to sitting in the sand dunes watching people jumping through the crashing waves, to sliding off my shoes and running down the beach to feel the cold water rush around my feet. I enjoy getting my feet wet with God.

Preparing for Easter allows each of us to discover new ways to travel in prayer with God.