I wrote this and it was originally published by SCM on their Facebook page – please do check out the page and read others’ reflections on the stations of the cross. The page can be found here:
Simon of Cyrene Carries the Cross – Debbie White
They compelled a passer-by, who was coming in from the country, to carry his cross; it was Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus. (Mark 15:21)
It is the simplicity of this station which most appeals to me. This isn’t to say that it is not a highly skilled piece of sculpture, but it instantly conveys meaning. It reminds me of the (now partly broken) Nativity scene we had as children, which was also a very simple wooden depiction. A lot of the Holy Week narrative seems complicated but in this, we simply see a man walking to his certain death, helped by Simon of Cyrene – whether he was compelled to do so or not, this is an act of self-sacrifice, and a significant one. The biblical accounts don’t say very much about Simon, but all the synoptic Gospels include him.
Holy Week and Easter are not going to be ‘normal’ this year. Many of us will be used to multiple church services, and I know I’m going to find it really hard not having church particularly on Good Friday and Easter Sunday. The pattern of Holy Week is one where I often rely on liturgy and hymns to carry me through it, from triumph to loneliness to despair, and to the quiet victory of Easter.
Particularly this year, things are not simple for many of us, and we may have too many crosses of our own to bear to feel that we can help others. We all have burdens, just as Simon of Cyrene must have done. Some remain unnamed and unknown, but we know, and God knows. This does not make our burdens any less, and grief, whether for ourselves or others, can be a powerful thing. The simple solidarity of Simon is a beautiful reminder of the path to which each of us is called to follow, burdens and all.
This very simple depiction of the Fifth Station of the Cross is at the Church of the Incarnation, California. It was carved by Elwin Millerick and can be found at the link below, along with the others in the series: