By Mary Sayad

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    THE BROKEN CROSS
    February 2006

    I held it in my hands, admiring its beauty and its intricate details. I knew that the artist who designed it must have poured his heart and love into its workmanship. Its magnetism sang with unscripted inspiration and creativity. I was mesmerized by something I couldn't describe or understand. It was abused; art mistreated; both art and spirituality treated with indifference.

    As I tried to make sense as to why this otherwise stunning cross, was abused, and/or unappreciated, I proceeded to mentally imagine restoring it to its original state. It measured approximately nine inches in length. The back of the cross indicated that it was made in Jerusalem. It became more special and unique to me because its back was also lined with the fourteen stations of the cross. Several parts of the front of the cross were broken and misplaced, yet, the mother of pearl border and the mother of pearl fine lace edging that remained, revealed its undeniable splendor. The mother of pearl's iridescence gently shimmered. The part of the cross's mother of pearl border which was missing revealed solid wood. Undoubtedly, the wood is from olive trees. Olive trees are abundant in that region.

    Some of the mother of pearl border pieces were in a plastic bag along with the cross. The background of the cross was also lined with delicate mother of pearl floral designs. What an exquisitely detailed design!

    The Jesus figure was dismantled and his left arm was broken from his shoulder. I was upset to the point of distraction because I hoped to restore it to its original finish, yet because I didn't have all the missing parts, I knew that I would have to settle with replacing the few available pieces.

    My husband and I traveled a long distance to visit our elderly relatives. They were moving to an Assisted Living Home and were in need of advice and lots of physical man power. We advised them with their decisions and we helped in clearing out their closets and disposing of their many years of accumulated belongings. Pack-Rats know what I'm referring to.

    I found the broken cross lying under some household items. They gave it to me when they saw how I raved over it despite its broken condition. Although I didn't expect any compensation (remember these are my relatives) at this point with my new found treasure, I was satisfied that my time and efforts were mysteriously rewarded.

    During that challenging time, I struggled to balance my sanity and to maintain my emotional stamina. This project was eminently greater than I had expected as both my joyful and sorrowful memories simultaneously clamored for attention. Yes, I unsuccessfully fought off my tears but because time was so short, we worked vigorously and steadily to complete our mission.

    After we returned home I contemplated on repairing the broken cross to the best of my ability. I'm not a craftsman by any means, but I have an innate sense of how things work and how to make simple repairs. My husband, Elias, cut a few pins to put back the missing "nails" in Jesus' hands and feet. We needed tiny nails and the pins were the best choice. I carefully glued and placed the few mother of pearl pieces to the cross. Then, I gently glued Jesus' arm back to his shoulder and held it in position until it dried. We then proceeded to nail the Jesus' figure to his rightful place on the cross. We were carpenters for a day albeit imperfect carpenters, however, the broken cross became an unfinished cross because it was almost restored to its dignified state.

    I then realized that our lives are very much like that repaired and unfinished cross. We live in a broken world where sin, pain, suffering and error dominate our environment. We as Christians are called upon to be examples of love and sacrifice. Our sacrifice may frequently come in the form of giving up of our personal conveniences, time and energy for our neighbors. Our good deeds and charitable love reflect the bountiful love of God our Father.

    Psalm 37:3 Trust in the Lord and do good, that you may dwell in the land and enjoy security.

    The cross is the source of new life. Many peoples would want to diminish this truth. The cross delivers strength and courage in proclaiming the gospel truth of Jesus Christ for we are all called to be ambassadors of Christ. With the cross, we are given the wisdom to develop the grace of compassion and fortitude.

    The broken and unfinished cross, serves as a reminder to strive for perfection in holiness in an imperfect world and to be patient and tolerant of everyone and all things.

    Awareness that Jesus was the supreme radical suddenly overwhelmed my thoughts. I began asking myself, "How can I have the courage to defend the truth?" How can I know, love and serve God in my personal life and still make a difference in the world?"

    The more I searched in the Holy Bible for an explanation, the more I discovered that the answer was and is written in our hearts. I was convinced that no matter the route or the vessel, our destiny is inevitably rooted in Jesus' suffering and Our Heavenly Father's deep and unimaginable love for us.

    Mary, our Blessed Mother is unceasingly praying and beckoning us to follow Jesus her son.

    Daniel 12:3 - But the wise shall shine brightly like the splendor of the firmament, And those who lead the many to justice shall be like the stars forever.

    Your companion in prayer,

    Mary