“We bow down before Your Cross, O Master, and Your holy Resurrection we glorify!“ (Byzantine Hymn, on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross)
Why the cross? Why would God choose a “cross,“ of all signs, as the sign of His (and our) victory; as the instrument by which He trampled, and we, in Him, continue to trample, death and darkness?
For one thing, when I make the sign of the cross, I become bigger than myself. Because the cross branches out, extending beyond me. As Chesterton noted in his brilliant comparison of the (Buddhist) circle and (Christian) cross: “The circle returns upon itself and is bound. The cross opens its arms to the four winds; it is a signpost for free travelers.“
Indeed, paradoxically, the “yoke“ and “burden“ of the cross-carrying Way make me “free.“ Free of what, exactly? Of the fear and anxiety of a life without meaning, which goes around in circles, closed in on itself without Christ, and without His Way. He teaches me and enables me to walk through things, rather than avoid them; to face my responsibilities, my shortcomings, and my gifts not in self-centered fear, but in humble reaching out to Him and others, in “communion.“ So I move forward, and outward, toward God and others. Because, as Chesterton notes in that same context, “Christianity is centrifugal: it breaks out.“
Thank You, Lord, for breaking us out, – out of hell, and out of the bondage of self. Glory, O Lord, to Your honorable Cross and Resurrection!