It was now about noon and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon because of an eclipse of the sun. Then the veil of the temple was torn down the middle. Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit”; and when he had said this he breathed his last.
(This post is part of a Lenten series on praying the Stations of the Cross - a devotional practice that is said to have started with Mary after the death and resurrection of Jesus. To start at the beginning, see the overview provided on March 5, 2023, and then go from there!)
Jesus had once said “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s” (Mark 12:17). Now, he gives his earthly body back to the earth and his Spirit back to his Father God. As it is for us too, God had been at work in the earthly body, but we all return our bodies back to the earth eventually and surrender our spirits back to the Father.
Here at Station XIII, there is some relief that the pain of Jesus’ dying is over, some peace in surrender. It’s okay to feel relief when the pain stops.
And yet there is so much more than the end of physical pain here. From the moment of his conception in Mary’s womb, Jesus’ whole earthly life had been all about breaking down the division between God and humanity. He was creating access for us to God, right here in our earthly existence. That accessed was finalized in this moment of his death with the tearing of the temple curtain. No more division between God and us – we’re invited to walk right into the inner sanctum.
The emotional darkness for Jesus’ disciples must have been profound as he died. It is so notable that they are barely mentioned through this whole Passion story, including this most important moment of Jesus’ sacrifice. Where were they? Hiding and afraid…hopeless and confused…struggling to believe God could still be with them when powers and crowds so clearly were not…? They could not be ready for this until the Spirit came later – they needed power beyond themselves, both to bear the grief and also to see the glory to come.
Were the disciples still subscribing to a “winner takes all” attitude, able only to see this as a fight they had lost? With their leader humiliated and put to death, they felt unsafe, rejected, and even embarrassed. But those who stayed with Jesus until the end (the Marys and John were there) were not out to win, just to be close to Jesus. They loved him, and they stayed in connected relationship with him even in the moment of his death.
Am I more drawn to winning or to abiding?
A note about mindfulness
The confusion of our circumstances can distract us from the work God is doing beneath the surface. Showing up fully in the present moment, no matter what we feel, is the first step in abiding with Christ. Mindfulness can help us show up fully for both the crucifixion and the resurrection to come, giving us glimmers of what God has in store for those who persevere through life’s trials.
(For a list of mindfulness practices that help you abide where Jesus is, in the present moment, no matter what you are feeling, check out the Guides for Practice available here.)
I am Irene Kraegel. I am licensed as a clinical psychologist and teach mindfulness on a faith-based university campus. I practice mindfulness because it opens me up to God (a.k.a. brings joy). I am writing here in hopes of sharing some of my experiences and thoughts related to the practice of mindfulness in the life of a Christian. Thanks for reading!
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