It is a moving experience, but not without its challenges. Each station was simply marked with a Roman numeral on the walls of the narrow streets throughout the city to indicate its location. As we paused to reflect upon the events that transpired there, whether Jesus’ falling or meeting the women of Jerusalem, we were bombarded with the sounds, smells, and distractions of a city beginning the day. A car would wiz past us going down a narrow street, or shops would be opening with loud conversations out front, or water would be pitched not too far from where we were standing as the sidewalks were being cleaned at the start of a new day.
It was not the contemplative picturesque scene I had envisioned, nor experienced in the pristine, well choreographed and organized Stations of the Cross in my local church. But all of its many distractions mirrored the inward distractions that often occur in the controlled church setting. So many times the challenge to quiet the mind from the cacophony of ideas and events of the day makes being present to reflect upon our Lord’s last moments a battle. Let alone the simple fact of getting to the church to participate after a full day.
Yet, it came as a reminder that none of those final steps of Jesus was pristine. His steps came were taken through the hustle and bustle of those same streets, confronting each bystander with the reality of what was transpiring before their eyes. Each one was invited into the scene, each one was given the decision to follow or walk away, each one had their day interrupted with the brutality and depths of human sinfulness on full display in front of their eyes. Each one was left with a decision on how to respond and what to do as they encountered Jesus amidst their day.
We, too, are confronted with the reality of those final steps of Jesus during Lent. We, too, have a choice in what we do with them. We must choose to take time out to reflect upon them, by setting aside times to do so (perhaps in walking them in the Stations of the Cross on Wednesday nights), or to let life sweep us away in its activities and endeavors. Even when we make time to be present to walk them, we battle to be truly present in each moment.
Lent comes as a reminder to each of us that God breaks into our lives, schedules, and calendars because He loves us too much not too. He desires that we walk with Him to put to death that which draws us away from Him in order that we may be more transformed in His likeness. Such a process will not be complete until we rise in glory, but it is a journey to pursue each and every day leading up to that Final Day. May we continue to learn to contemplate those mighty acts that were wrought for our salvation, and allow the Holy Spirit to continue the good work He began in us at our baptism until its completion.