About a decade ago, I went with my then spouse, and another couple overseas to visit some friends in Denmark. I’d been to Copenhagen as a college student in the early 90s and loved it. I was happy to return for whatever reason, being with close friends made it all the sweeter.
We decided to go to Germany and see where the Beatles got their start. We booked an early morning train/ferry to Kaiserkeller with a plan to spend one night there, and return to Copenhagen the next day. How liberating to literally, in the midst of an evening cocktail on a Monday, decide to travel to another country the next day. We were open, without expectation and fully present.
We’d just left a coffee shop in Hamburg, when my friend asked me about my cross. “What does that ‘mean’ to you?” Seemed a random question at the time, but looking back I realize that only when we are out of our own heads and predictable environments, can such inquiry and exploration take place.
Although surprised, I had no trouble answering: “It means connectedness, that we all intersect with each other and all of life… it means love.”
When my Daughter died in 1997 I’d removed my cross as an outward expression that I was refuting God’s presence. I felt that only one of two explanations existed for my suffering. “Either God doesn’t exist at all, or does, but doesn’t care about me.”
It took several years and a return (little by little) to Faith, before I could put it back on. But when the day came, I returned it to my neck, where it has remained ever since. I’d never thought much about the “symbol” itself, so I surprised even myself when I answered my friend’s question with such an authentic response.
But it fit perfectly. I knew, even then that the idea of religion, contrasted with spirituality was similar, yet different. The concepts of ‘Jesus dying on a cross’ (religion) vs. the ’notion of interconnected-ness with all of life’ (spirituality) had similar implications. But one felt like I was back in (rigid) Catholic school while the other felt like a comfortable pair of slippers and my favorite sweats (home).
To this day I wear my same cross and still feel connected to the “meaning” I’d assigned it in Germany. “It means love.” However we come to know that we are love itself, emanating miracles as sure as we are receiving them is unimportant. If religion is the vehicle, fantastic. If spirituality is the path, perfect! The means of the journey is irrelevant. The deep knowing that each of us (from flower to human) is perfection itself is all that matters.