A Symbol in the Desert
Walking in the desert we took a different path than the one by the Colorado River as the day was cool. Wanting the warmth of the sun my husband and I hiked up to the high trail. A man was kneeling, head bowed, at the foot of a cross. We passed quietly wondering if this was the man who attached the wooden cross with the plastic Jesus to the Creosote bush at the top of the trail.
The first time I encountered the cross my immediate response was to remove it from public land but quickly these words flashed into my mind, No, don’t, someone needs this Jesus.
As time went by the cross site was improved with a carefully balanced rock wall. I thought of the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem where written petitions are left in the cracks between the stones.
It’s a small and humble thing, a tiny choice, to put a cross in the desert. And it was a small choice made not to remove it.
We struggle to find God as Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Jews, Native Americans ? I’ve come to dislike organized religion yet each has a symbol, each has celebrations, each in its best way gives comfort to those who believe. I wouldn’t want to live where I couldn’t honor all faiths. God is love in any true faith. God is love and love is God. There’s nothing to fight about. No reason not to leave a cross in the desert or any other symbol. It is a good thing for Christians to kneel at the cross, for Muslims, called to prayer 5 times daily, to kneel on their prayer rugs, Buddhists to spin their prayer wheels and pray at their altars, for Jews to put on their prayer shawls, and Native Americans to see God in the power and beauty of the eagle.
I’m glad I made the choice to leave the cross with the plastic Jesus attached to the creosote bush. My husband cares for the earth by picking up garbage on our walks. One day he picked up an empty beer bottle tossed at the foot of the cross. When we got home I kept thinking about that beer bottle wondering if we should have left it as it may have represented a symbol, a leaving behind of a struggle.
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