I have a small wooden cross that fits right into my hand. The wood is sanded so smoothly that it feels almost soft in my hands. The horizontal prongs of the cross are slightly curved so that it sits perfectly in my grip. It is a simple wooden cross with no embellishment. When I am still in prayer, the cross is my companion. It is a firm, tangible, tactile reminder not only of prayer but of my being upheld and supported in my prayer. Sometimes we need that: something firm to lean against, something solid to hold on to.
Years ago when I was teaching elementary-age children, afternoons were tough for the younger ones. No matter how exciting I tried to make the lesson, no matter how hard the children tried, the afternoons were tough. One of my favorite memories is of a young boy who was so smart and so eager to learn that after lunch, he would sit next to me eager for the lesson. Somewhere mid-way through the lesson, I would feel this warm weight at my side. As I turned to look, I saw this sweet young boy fast asleep leaning on my side. The child’s full, warm weight was fast against me. When he awoke a bit later, the child would sleepily say, “I slept so well knowing that you were there.”
That is the sentiment of my prayer cross. It is something firm to hold on to. It is something that grounds me in my faith. It is an object that reminds me that I, too, can rest because God is near and God’s presence is abiding.
In times of prayer, in times of change, in times of uncertainty, we turn in prayer to our God. I hold my simple wooden cross in my hand, like a sacrament, an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace: something solid and firm to bind me to my God.
The Rev. Sarah Nelson