Wednesday, February 21, 2018

"Any discussion of how pain and suffering fit into God's scheme ultimately leads back to the cross on which He died. ” ― Philip Yancey

                  When I became a Christian in my forties, people liked it because they could always give me a cross for a gift—and they did.  I had a nice collection of crosses, all of them gifts.  Both of my sister-in-laws gave me crosses, one from France and one from old Mexico.  The Archbishop of Athens of the Greek Orthodox Church gave me one when I visited him in Greece.  A nun in a convent in Greece gave me one as did a monk in a Benedictine monastery in Arkansas.  Some people made them for me: former parishioners made three for me, two from Rogers, Arkansas, and one from Dry Fork, Arkansas.  My mother brought me a cedar wood cross from the Holy Land.  A missionary from El Salvador gave me one, and when my Aunt Helen passed away, I got the one that hung in her kitchen for as long as I can remember.  My wife gave me one.  Each one different in size, in materials, in purpose, and in meaning.  I treasured them all, and they hung all over my house and in my office at whatever church I was serving.  What to do with them when we moved to Africa?  I couldn’t give them away, so I put them all in one of my suitcases and brought them with me.  They stayed in that suitcase for a year or more.  Then, we decided to build a small prayer chapel and place for morning devotions.  While they were building it, Karen came up with the idea of pressing them into the wet cement on the walls of the new prayer chapel—and that’s where they are and have been for over a decade.  We are currently re-thatching the prayer chapel for the visit from my youngest son and his family.  There is no metal roof, only thatch, and it’s been several years since its last re-thatching, so it was time.  The picture at the right is of Amos (who used to work for us) doing the thatching on the prayer chapel, and if you look at the walls inside you can see two of the crosses.  We have mounted two very sturdy hooks in the wall, so we can hang a two-person Pawley’s Island Hammock in there.  It’s very peaceful and a wonderful place to get away from electronic devices, rest, and reflect.  I’ve written many sermons and blogs while enjoying that hammock (a gift from Cami and Chris Smith in South Carolina).  Now, next month, my youngest son, his wife, and my three grandchildren can see some of my spiritual history while relaxing in a place of peace.  On the Facebook post, you can see the cross from the Holy Land (small and plain) and one from El Salvador (very colorful).  Of course, you are always invited to come see them for yourself and to relax where you can listen to God.

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