The Ninth Station: Jesus Falls for the Third Time

March 30, 2017 Comments Off on The Ninth Station: Jesus Falls for the Third Time

Artist: Gus Moody

How are we measuring our Lent so far? How are we measuring ourselves and others and by what measure?  The lyrics of Seasons of Love haunt me when I think of this question.

How do you measure – measure a year?
In daylights – in sunsets
In midnights – in cups of coffee
In inches – in miles
In laughter – in strife

At times we have a tendency to record days and years in just the strife. We live in a culture of scarcity that tells us there isn’t enough riches, resources, love, and all that’s good to go around. It tells us to take what we can grab by the fist and pocket it away before someone else does. Every failure or disappointment is just more of the pie slipping away from us. Shame is what keeps the machine running by whispering in our ear that we aren’t worthy of love and belonging anyway, that we were never going to be as good as everyone else, and that there is little point to taking risks or even bothering to try when it will all just suck anyway. We will get nothing and we are nothing.

Jesus falling for the third time epitomizes how this kind of shame can manifest and how we can respond to others, too. Sometimes we don’t know quite what to say when someone is struggling so we are quick to say something like this to a Jesus falling again moment: “Wow, Jesus, you fell again huh? It’s no biggie. But let me tell you what happened to ME the other day! Way worse!” Or we think, “I’m so much stronger as a fisherman so I’d only fall twice max.” Or better yet, “Poor Jesus, bless his heart.” We tend to focus on the falling with ourselves and others as if that’s the point.

What if the point was more about the resilience to get back up? Or the bravery to carry an impossible weight and keep going anyway? Or the very love that keeps us showing up not in spite of the cost and falls and shame but because of it? One of my Lenten practices this year was to try meditation as a new way of praying. I thought I was just particularly bad at it because I had a million thoughts racing and it seemed as though the whole point was not to have thoughts. It really isn’t actually about not having thoughts, as many of you are aware. The point is to touch the thought. let it go, and come back to the present moment. I think this is instructive as we think about the ways we think about falling down in a year, in a lifetime even. The point isn’t that we try to eliminate falling, because falling will happen. The point is to touch our wounds, failures, and hurts, let them go, and come back to our authentic, true selves.

So indeed how will we measure this Lent, this year, ourselves? Will it be how many times we’ve fallen or failed? Seasons of Love gives us a clue in how we might measure  — “measure in love”. When we do find ourselves falling again like Jesus, we might remember to touch it, let it go, and come back to ourselves knowing we are worthy of love and belonging. When we see others fall, we might just stand with them in solidarity. These are our seasons of love.

– Nicole Hanley

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