Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Cross in Osijek

In June 2003, during my first visit to Croatia, Pope John Paul II came to Osijek.  The only thing I remember about that day was that the whole city shut down.  There was not a car on the street, not a business working.  Osijek was a ghost town.  Most had gone to the airport landing field - the only place in the city that could hold the throng of people (220,000 in a city of fewer than 100,000) who came to see Papa. The city put up a large cross for the event.

The other day, I took my car to Osijek to be serviced.  The Kia station happens to be very close to the cross. As I was walking to a cafe I stared at the symbol, amazed by the simplicity of the structure juxtaposed by the immense meaning it carries.  I looked forward to spending more time in contemplation when I returned.

When it was time to pick up my car I started back along the same path I had walked just a few hours ago.  But the cross wasn't where I thought it was.  In fact, despite its size, I couldn't find any sign of it.  How could something so big be so hard to find - especially when I knew exactly where it was?  Was it possible they took it down in the small time I was gone?

As I continued walking, smaller, obviously fake crosses started tricking me.  I knew they weren't the real thing, but the very fact that I was so keenly aware of looking for the cross forced me to recognize - and then dismiss - every small streetlight.  It was a confusing and frustrating experience.

Finally I found it.  When I did, I realized it stood in a different location than I previously thought.  Even though I had concentrated on it so thoroughly earlier, I had not taken its context into consideration.   My confidence even made me wonder if someone else had done something with it.

As it should, the cross revealed something.  When I reflected on my experience, I realized I have the tendency to solidify my idea of God.  Sometimes my understanding of God turns into a god.  God becomes so concrete in my mind that I don't allow the Lord's mysteriousness to captivate me.  I often predict what God will do, rather than praying for the Father's will to be done.  Thankfully, the Lord is not limited to my insufficient understanding.

Raymond E. Brown has something to say about this:
It remains a paradox that we worship a God whose thoughts are not our thoughts, and yet we tend to be so sure about what He would think fitting. Every clearly discernible action of his has been a surprise; how can we be so sure what He must do?

 "Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!" Romans 11:33-34 (ESV)

1 comment:

Milo Wilson said...

wow jeremy. You just rocked my world. great stuff! keep it up!