There’s a bird’s nest on our cross. I’m afraid that someone will decide it’s untidy and will go up there and clear it off. I suppose it does look a bit untidy. But I love that this mother robin decided to build her nest up there. In this Holy Week, the symbolism of the cross looms large, and I struggle with the paradox of it. What would possess us to make this, an instrument of torture and of death, the symbol of our faith? We make it look pretty, we dress it up in jewels and plate it in gold and silver, we shape it out of ceramic and carve it into beautifully elaborate designs, and still it is a cross. It is the form of the tree on which we claim that God hung, nailed there by hatred and prejudice and fear. Why would we wear such a thing around our necks?
The bird’s nest points toward an answer. Because, while this cross is a symbol of Christ’s death, it is a reminder of life. The life that God wants for us, that God calls us to. At the foot of the cross, we remember that we are human and broken, and that, when faced with God’s light, we are just exactly the sorts of creatures who would choose darkness, because darkness is so much easier. Darkness allows us to conceal our faults and to pretend that we have it all figured out and that we do not need anything outside of ourselves. Darkness hides our shames and our pains and our brokenness, and it is so much easier to pretend that we are not broken. Until we cannot pretend anymore. Until the day when we wake up to find that our brokenness is all that we have left. And there we are, at the foot of the cross.
And up there, on the top right-hand corner of the cross, is a robin’s nest. The beginnings of new life. And the light shines into the darkness, seeping through the cracks, revealing brokenness, yes, but also growth. Revealing pain, yes, but also healing. Revealing shame and resentment and everything that we wish we were not, but then breaking us open to reveal the heart of us, the heart that is made in the image of God. The very best of us. From out of the darkness of the cross, we are called to sing to the Lord a new song, a song of dry bones knit together, a song of empty tombs, a song of life out of death. A resurrection song.