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  • Sarah Raad

Watching

Updated: Mar 6, 2021

Oh, the things Our Blessed Lord endures for us!


Christ Carrying the Cross (Tiziano Vecellio (Titian))

When I was a very little girl, during my first few months of Kindergarten, at my local Catholic school, I watched the year 6 children perform the stations of the Cross.


It was the first time I had ever been exposed to the story of Christ’s passion. Before this time, I has seen icons, crucifixes, and Mass, but though my mother often told me to be good so that I did not upset poor Jesus, I had no understanding of who He really was or what He really did…


I remember that day very very clearly…


I remember sitting on the basketball court in the hot sun with my hat on my head. I remember my Year 6 Buddy sitting next to me to keep me quiet. I remember Mrs Gallagher – my Kindergarten Teacher – telling us to sit up straight and cross our legs and listen and look. I remember the school principal addressing the school at the start of the play using a megaphone. I remember being happy and excited and curious.


And then… I remember the play…


The pictures in my mind are clear. Very clear.


I saw a year 6 boy – the Christ-boy – with his ash-blond mullet (it was the eighties after all) carrying a wooden Cross across the bitumen. I saw the four year six boys – two tall ones and two shorter ones – walk around the Christ-boy, whipping him and shouting at him, dressed in red tunics. I saw the groups of year six children standing around the Christ-boy as he walked and jeering at him as the crowd. I saw the smaller, brunette girl with her blue bedsheet veil, crying and lamenting behind the Christ-boy as he walked. I saw the Cyrene-boy wearing brown helping to take the Cross. I saw the girls huddled up as women of Jerusalem, and Veronica with her tea-towel.

And that day – for the first time – I watched.

That day, I watched Christ condemned, and laden with the Cross, I saw His falls and His Blessed Mother, Simon the Cyrene, Saint Veronica, and the women of Jerusalem. I watched Christ stripped, and nailed, and dead, I saw Him taken down, I saw Him buried.


I remember clearly, the feeling that descended on my infant mind. It felt as though all the blood was running away from my face. I felt sick and faint.


I remember my excitement turning to horror and sadness as I watched the play. How could this be true? I wondered to myself. Why did nobody tell me about this before?


I remember asking my Year 6 buddy in whispers on the playground floor…

“Did this happen to Jesus?”

“Yes.”

“But really? Did this happen to Him? This?”

“Yes.”


That afternoon, when my mother collected me from school I cried and cried and cried. Tears that I had kept inside my soul all day came gushing out and nothing that my mother said or did could console me. My little soul could not put my grief into words. It was too much to express at the time. How could I explain the feeling that though everything was still the same – everything had changed.


Now I knew.


Before that March day in 1987, I had never before seen or even heard of the Stations of the Cross.


I saw them that day.


I watched Christ – there in that playground. And watching what Christ endured for LOVE of me changed EVERYTHING for me.

In the last few years, since my children have been old enough, I often take them to pray the Stations of the Cross at my local Parish. The prayers are moving.


The other day my younger son said, “'She sees me kicked and driven like a beast…' That’s what we say in Station Four Mum.”


It brought tears to my eyes. During those forty minutes inside the church on Friday nights during Lent, I cry. Every. Single. Time.


They are the same tears I have kept within my soul since 1987 – the ones born on that nondescript afternoon in a school playground on the bitumen basketball court on a March morning during Lent...


I cry for my Beloved, and for the things He endured for me…


For with sorrow, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.

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