I once knew of a sinner who would carry his cross with the slowest building agony. He would sometimes throw it down to the ground and spit on it in anger. Kick dirt over it and mark it with the sharpest stones he could find. Scratch obscene words into it, not caring what anyone would see. He knew God would, and that amused him. But then he would pick it back up onto his back and continue where he left off. He was on the passage of the sinner and his cross.
Where he was from, every sinner had to carry his cross up to the rose covered mountains outside of the town. All of the sinners had to do this at one point in their lives and they had the freedom to choose when. Some believed God told them when to go, others decided to pick up and console the evils inside them, while there were others who never went until they neared the grasp of death; some were forced out of their death beds to carry their cross to the mountains. It was a day long journey for everyone; no one ever returned past sundown. After the first step on the road was made, the rest felt like eternity. For all those on their way, the dirt road to the mountains was one of hopeless anguish.
The one I knew took up his cross to battle the demons within him. Throughout his journey, this man walked on the sands of Inferno, scorching his feet. Blisters opened on his soles. Blood rolled in droplets from the scratches on his back. Deep black bruises lined up and down his spine. Pieces of wood were splintered into his skin. The weight of the cross pushed them further in to his hands so that when he carried it, he tried to keep his face away. Not once did he fall, but he threw his cross many times and paced in frustrated circles. He often put his hands to his face but remembered to keep them away from his eyes so that he would not splinter them. When he finally resolved to complete his passage and continued some steps forward, he almost immediately stopped in his tracks. The mountains were only a few miles away but he stopped in front of a tree he recognized. It was a small tree with willow like branches and lavender colored blossoms. He took one from the tree and absorbed its fragrance. His mind flashed back to joyful memories and moments of innocence and the ocean. He then began to tread away from the dirt road of the sinners with the cross still on his back and proceeded down the valley below, towards the nearby sea. The cool long grasses soothed his feet as he passed. The coolness of the soil also seemed to heal his aches and relax his mind. He felt his energy slowly restore itself with each step he took in the valley. The air around him was no longer overbearing, it refreshed him. The sun was no longer sweltering or deadly to endure; it was a delightful jewel in the sky that made everything look entirely familiar. He no longer squinted or felt the splinters in his body or the slices on his back. He gazed at the friendly clouds and almost smiled at the sunlight that touched everything around him until he reached the water’s edge. Then with all his might, gathered from deep within all his pain, glory, and suffering, he tossed the cross that he carried into the water as far as he could. And as he watched it float where it landed, he felt his soul being washed over, absolved from torture. Tears did not come. Blood did not fall. The sun did not go down. He was washed anew. Not cleansed from his sins but cleansed from the dark. His cross disappeared under the water. Though he did not make it to the rose covered mountains, he was fine. God had heard him. He remained watching the lapping waves of the ocean. The one that he knew.