I grew up with Good Friday. I cannot say that Good Friday for me was a day for celebration, because I was an impressionable child and I read a lot. My knowledge of the world came from books. I was brought up to believe that Good Friday was a day for sacrifice and the ultimate sacrifice was the man who carried his own cross to the hill of Calvary. The story filled me with dread because of the excessive violence and I saw the parallels to my own life. I could see why people saw the crucifixion story as a story of courage and perseverance. If one was suffering, it was good to see that a God suffered alongside us. That we are not alone. If the great and powerful God could go through such suffering for us then we can endure the little bit of pain we were experiencing.
While I understood the idea of Gods suffering for us. I did not buy into it. I asked, if god was so powerful, why was he so powerless in the face of the Romans? I got a scuff at the back of the head in response. They did not know, so they could not explain it to me.
We obediently followed the symbols, ceremoniously not lighting the fire until noon which was when Christ supposedly died. We were told it would burn his body and cause more pain. It was good for us kids as we got to drink soda, something we did not have very often. Cola Champagne, coco cola, and Ting, a grapefruit pop. We ate easter bun and cheese from the yellow and red tin. We went to church. My imagination opened in frightful ways, imagining the man Jesus forced to drag the heavy cross after he had been tortured, along the dusty road struggling to stay upright, people yelling at him, the Romans beating and prodding him, the crown of thorns jammed onto this head hurting him as he struggled the dusty road up the hill to his eventual demise. It was like our grandmother sending us to cut the switch she would use to beat us. We had to carry the tool of our own punishment to the executioner.
I imagined Jesus laying down for the soldiers to hammer the large rusty nails into his hands and then his feet. I imagined the weight of his body pulling on the nails as the cross was being lifted, blood dripping baptizing the ones with the job of raising the cross. I imagined the extreme pain he would have experienced. While there on the cross Jesus forgave his torturers. I imagined, with extreme dread his mother and disciples standing helplessly trying to save their own lives, watched as his essence drained away in the blood dripping from his hands and feet. I imagined the people fearfully repenting their decision to send Jesus to the cross and them screaming for him to get off the cross. You have done all these miracles, you brought the dead from the grave, save yourself. Yes, I wondered why did Jesus not save himself, if he was so powerful. I had no answer. I imagined the earthquake when Jesus died and the sound of the curtains in the temple rending with a terrible sound that echoed around the area and the dead raising up to walk the street. I wonder if that is where zombies came from? My little mind was filled with questions and no answers. So I turned to observe the people around me. The ones who touted the story, justifying the glory of violence as the end to the means of making our lives better. I watched closely. I paid attention. But to no avail. I did not see the purpose to the violence that they sold.
I enjoyed the treats, though. I liked stories so I took in the storytelling. I eventually saw it as stories, because the people who were abusing us were not changed by the blood of christ nor did they seem to recognize the sacrifice that was made for them. Or at least I don’t think they seemed grateful enough to change their ways and become more giving and kind. I figured that Jesus failed in his mission, poor Sod.
Today, I see Good Friday as a symbol of our personal crucifixion. The pain we cause ourselves out of guilt and a sense of obligation to someone else’s expectation. People hooked on drugs and going through their own self-imposed crucifixion. People locked in mental and emotional disease have thrown themselves into their own moment on the cross. Will they die? If they die, will the evidence that they existed be there, except for the knowledge of their existence to the people close to them? Did Jesus die in vain? Are we continuing along the path to calvary, carrying our own cross to prove that we are worthy of life? It was already done. Jesus made the sacrifice. He needs us to live to find peace and forgive ourselves for what we feel we did wrong.
Good Friday to me is the end of the beginning. It is the completion of a cycle of pain and self-negation. Each day when we wake up in anger, in self-doubt, in self-hate, we deny the magic of our own inner child’s sacrifice for our own salvation. Find the way to create peace within your self and allow the healing to begin today, this Good Friday, a day of symbolic sacrifice.
Sonia Nadina Haynes, life coach and emotional healer. Her intention is to assist you to live your life well. www.soniahaynes.com