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  • Writer's pictureDr. Anthony Lilles

Under the Shadow of the Cross

Under the Shadow of the Cross, an uneventful silence can take hold. We want something to happen but instead we are pulled into a sort of idleness. We want some sort of result, something that will help us prove to ourselves that this time was not wasted. Instead, there is an empty expanse and the only horizons we see are lonely, raising more questions than answers. What difficult voids wait in the heart! Yet, here, the Living God has created an ache that He yearns for us to share, a sharing in we know not what.

This silent stillness at times seems oppressive and something to be avoided. So we distract ourselves with our daily routine and with our routines in prayer and piety. We conjure memories of the last time we felt spiritual, but no memory can satisfy the need to be still. So we wait, humbled, haunted by the thought that no feat of spiritual industry can remove the piercing thorn. God Himself does not touch it but permits us to discover Him in our inadequacy. Thus, in the vestiges of religious accomplishments, our heart aches on deserted ground, sharing in we know not what.

In the public square, this same silent prayer boldly rings for the cruciform shadow that we know in our hearts also covers the marketplace of ideas. Infuriated health officials vent oblivious to the ringing tolls of coming glory. Pedantic political powers relentlessly blame, but resonances of grace bathe the humble. No deadly hum of satanic accusation can thwart the hidden splendor lurking within hearts enchanted with prayer's good spell.

Something noble is being conceived in sacred hiddenness while the powerful cast about unaware of the perilous precipice before them. A new unheard of hope stirs, even as earthly dreams seem shattered, in a sinner's fellowship, sharing in we know not what.

Whether amidst the exigencies of the daily grind or hidden in the privacy of one's room, a deeper kind of prayer finds those eyes who search for us in love. Only as we learn to rest in the seeming idleness of love will we ever catch a fleeting glimpse of His inexhaustible gaze. Only a shared gaze catches unexpected voids and the haunting expectations that await us in love cannot be guessed until they are welcomed by the soul, even in its not knowing.

Idleness before the Cross of Christ takes on new meaning -- for in that intimate stillness to which He calls us one heart speaks to another, an abyss calls to abyss, voids co-inhere in that surprised possession of the other, that astonishing, but hope for, mutual delight. He aches, knowing our plight, having chosen to take our side and we ache, seeing His plight for our sake. Here is the landscape of mutual recognition: He suffers our misery for love and seeing that He has so suffered for us, we wish to suffer in love for Him. Something no words can say is shared, under the shadowof the Cross, known by that loving faith alone.

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