Two-fold Ascent: Lessons in Love and Trust

The Hill of the Sorrowful Mysteries, Assisi

  1. The Agony in the Garden

we start the gentle, winding climb

to Francesco’s cave

But my heart is far away…

trying to meditate on the agonies of the Savior,

when I am really overwhelmed by my own agonies

of isolation

and loneliness.

And somehow, I miss:

that the One in Agony plumbed the depths of loneliness.

  1. Scourging at the Pillar

Trying to think on His bleeding back

when all my mind can see

is my own bleeding heart.

And I hate the feeling of being unknown, unseen…

no less than the inability to control the feeling.

And wrestling angrily

with my thoughts

Somehow, I miss:

that this One with the bloody, mutilated back is the One thinking of me.

  1. Crowning with Thorns

I condemn myself for the failure to focus

on the taunting jeers and crown

rained on the head of Love:

overwhelmed by this feeling of inability to love

while the more I want to fight it, the harder it becomes:

to think on anything

but myself.

And still, I miss:

that only Love Itself has the power to love in the face of anything

and we, only through surrendering to Him.

  1. Carrying of the Cross

I keep plodding up this path, with Christ,

who carries up His hill

our Cross, and our failures.

And I hear Him call: “Let go, and let me carry this:

“your loneliness and fear, your feeling unloved, unknown…

“let me give you love

to reach out.”

And still I miss it:

How to stop trying… and to let Him do?

  1. Crucifixion

To complete the journey, we come back down,

to a night in adoration

Before the Crucified.

And my weary heart hits the bottom in exhaustion

Realizing I don’t even have the strength to reach for His hem.

I let go, praying:

reach for me.

And I see what I missed:

That in this loneliness, I find Him,

and in this fear and unsatisfied thirst, I find intimacy

with the thirsty One.


The Mount of the Stations of the Cross, Medjugorje:


Of rocks on bare feet: wet, cold, dirty rocks…

dirty and wet with the blood of the Crucified One.

And the sharpness of the thorns upon that head.

And we begin to climb…


The sky covered with thick, black clouds

pouring the tears of heaven upon the Crucified One.

And the darkness that envelops His heart, heavy with the world’s darkness.

And we climb again…


The weight of this drenched coat on my shoulders.

drenched with the blood and tears of the Man of Sorrows.

And the heaviness of the Cross upon His shoulders.

As we keep climbing.


Of voices lifted in songs of praise and awe

to the Man Who saved us by His sorrows.

And the sound of cries: “Crucify Him!” uttered for us.

As we climb again.

Sharp, heavy, loud, and dark: all piercing

my mind and heart, distracted by fears and woundedness

and self-accusation at the distraction

even on this sacred journey with the Son of God.

And the piercing of His Heart for my cleansing.

And we reach the top.


Breaking through the clouds, and reflecting the bow of His promise,

wrapping over the whole mountain

where the Son hangs in death, to fulfill that promise.

And the light breaking into my heart, with a call:

as we stand at the summit.


this burden of self-centered accusation, of self-condemnation

that He died to keep off my shoulders

to let the Savior save, to let the Lover love, to let God be God:

and leave my self-made yoke in this rock-hewn tomb, buried with Him,

to walk back down, into resurrection.


moving my heart to respond, opening fingers tightly clenched

on this stone in my hand, the physical sign of this burden:

and I let it fall to the ground.

and I start walking down…


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