The Cross in my Neighborhood
I honestly don't remember the first time I walked the stations of the cross. I know it was probably only a few years ago, but I don't remember the time or the place. But what I do remember is that it was significant. The idea of walking, stopping, gazing at an image of the last days of Jesus' life here on earth. Sitting there in that part of the story. Wondering.
(For an intro to stations of the cross click here. Stations of the cross can come in many different forms and number of stations based on the scripture text. If you're new to the practice, try a few out and see what you like. This one I found particularly lovely from the Smithsonian American Art Museum.)
One time on our way to Prescott, AZ we took the back way there and stumbled upon the Shrine of St. Joseph. (One of those many times my husband graciously entertained my super random, last minute excited request to turn around and "lets see what THAT is".) We came to one of the most beautiful stations of the cross I've seen yet. I don't have any photos because I was so in awe. (Literally google Shrine of St Joseph and click on the map photos - yes, do it now.) And in 2020 it's what I wanted to do for Holy Week. But covid. And so I determined to do it in 2021. But still - covid. And it's closed.
So after a bit of moping (don't get me wrong, there are lots of great places here in Phoenix to walk through the stations of the cross, but I was looking for something else) I wondered. I wondered what it would be like to an audio version of the stations of the cross and walk through my neighborhood. Could be interesting...
But how do I cement my walk in my soul? Do what I do regularly as a prayer practice. Receive a photo.
So I'm sharing my practice below - and if it's something you find interesting I'd love to see what you receive along the way.
Stations of the Cross - Contemplative Photography
- Find an audio recording of the stations of the cross that doesn't annoy you. (This is the one I used and it only sort of annoyed me. it was 18 minutes - some go a lot longer. Afterwards I found some on spotify as well.)
- Put your shoes on (that's kind of a given).
- Don't choose a specific path to follow. The beauty of a contemplative walk is gazing at what is there in front of you - not choosing what you "think will look good" or "fit into the story" beforehand.
- Begin your moderately slow walk.
- As you listen, imagine the story playing out in front of you. If a word captures your attention feel free to stop and see if there's something that stands out to you that represents the word or phrase and receive the image through your camera. Pause the recording if you need to and stand still. Whatever you choose to do here in the moment is fine.
- Not every station will have something that draws you in and there may be some that have multiple things you see. Everything is welcome.
- When you're finished and return home - at some point look at your photos and see if you remember what prompted you to receive them.
- Respond to the practice with a prayer, a collage of your photos, a poem - whatever way you feel like expressing your journey with Jesus.
Here are a few of the phrases that caught my attention and their photos. (I had about 10 photos in total):
Crushing Weight of the Cross
The handmaid of the Lord
The women of Jerusalem
Jesus is stripped (this palm tree has been stripped of it's bark)
Jesus is nailed to a cross